The Tabernacle Times
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August 2018 ......................... Av - Elul 5778 ......................... Volume 13 Issue 8

Bar Mitzvah

In Honor of Preston Daniels

Angela Kunkel
by
Angela Renee Kunkel
 
My son,
if you receive my words,
And treasure
my commands within you,
So that you incline your ear
to wisdom,
And apply your heart
to understanding;
Yes, if you cry out
for discernment,
And lift up your voice
for understanding,
If you seek her as silver,
And search for her as
for hidden treasures;
Then you will understand
the fear of the L~rd,
And find the knowledge of G~d.

Proverbs 2:1-5
This would be followed by the Bar/Bat Mitzvah reading from the Torah. The child does not just read the passage in Hebrew (which is challenge enough), but also chants the musical notes that accompany the reading, called the cantillation. These melodies are believed to date back to the time of Moses (see Deuteronomy 31:19-22).

When the reading from the Torah scroll is finished, the Bar/Bat Mitzvah chants the following blessing:
Barukh atah Adonai, eloheynu melekh ha'olam, asher natan lanu torat emet, V’chayey olam nota b'tokheynu. Barukh atah Adonai, noteyn ho'torah. Amen.

Blessed art Thou, O Lord our ,God King of the universe, who has given us the Torah of truth, and has implanted within us everlasting life. Blessed art Thou, O L~rd, giver of the Torah. Amen.
One of the best known traditions of the Jewish people is that of a Bar/Bat Mitzvah. The Bar/Bat Mitzvah is an important step in a child’s life. “Bar” is an Aramaic word for “son” and “Bat” is Hebrew for “daughter”. “Mitzvah” is Hebrew for “commandment”. This is a special time, a milestone, an anointed time where a child takes responsibility for his or her own spiritual life. Some refer to the Bar/Bat Mitzvah as the biblical age of accountability or a crossing over from childhood to adulthood. The historical background of the Bar/Bat Mitzvah is a little difficult to track than other biblical traditions. The most detailed description of a Bar Mitzvah in the Scripture is in the Brit Hadashah (New Testament), the Bar Mitzvah of Yeshua the Messiah.

“His parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover. And when He was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem according to the custom of the feast. When they had finished the days, as they returned, the Boy Yeshua lingered behind in Jerusalem. And Joseph and His mother did not know it; but supposing Him to have been in the company, they went a day’s journey, and sought Him among their relatives and acquaintances. So when they did not find Him, they returned to Jerusalem, seeking Him. Now so it was that after three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions.” ~Luke 2:41-47

In the Torah, the primary age of significance was age 20, when a male was fit for military experience, counted in the census, and obligated to give a half-shekel for the upkeep of the Temple (Exodus 30:14, Numbers 1:3).

Twenty was also important age because those who were this age and older were condemned to die in the wilderness because of the sin of the spies, whereas those who were younger were permitted to enter the Promised Land (Numbers 13:31-33 and 14:29).

The term “bar mitzvah” occurs in the Talmud and it is purely a legal concept. A boy of thirteen was required to fast for a full day on Yom Kippur (Yoma 82a). His vows were considered valid (Ned.5:6), and he was deemed responsible for observing the mitzvot (Avot 5:23). A boy of this age could perform acts having legal implications, such as being a member of the beit din (rabbinic court), being counted as part of a minyan (a quorum of 10 men over the age 13), and he may even buy and sell property.

According to the Midrash, thirteen was the age at which Abraham rejected idolatry and set out on his own spiritual path and Jacob committed himself to a life of Torah study. The Rabbis understood age thirteen as a milestone of physical maturity. Each individual is born with both a yetzer-hara (inclination toward evil) and a yetzer-ha-tov (inclination toward good). However, since the yetzer ha-tov did not completely develop until age thirteen, only at that age could the boy be expected to keep his desires and passions entirely under control.

Today, in many Jewish synagogues, reaching the age of thirteen is not simply when a boy becomes obligated to observe the commandments but rather a time when he is first allowed to participate in and perform the various rituals associated with full membership in the community. After age thirteen a boy would now don the tallit and tefillin, be called up to the Torah, and lead the congregation in prayer.

Preparing for the ceremony takes much preparation. Some Rabbi’s require a two year period of study. The actual ceremony is quite beautiful and significant. Symbolic of his or her new responsibilities, the boy or girl is prepared to actually lead a significant part of the synagogue service. Specifically, the child has mastered various parts of the liturgical service that, depending on the capabilities of the young student, may include such Hebrew prayers as the Shema and the Amidah. In addition to leading part of the service, the Bar/Bat Mitzvah also chants the traditional weekly reading from the Torah. The Bar/Bat Mitzvah then carries the Torah in a processional around the congregation. Once the scroll is opened, the child will then chant the blessings over the scroll.

“Barukh atah Adonai, eloheynu melekh ha'olam, asher bakhar banu mikol ha'amim, V’natan lanu et tora-to. Barukh atah Adonai, noteyn ha'torah. Amen.

Blessed art Thou, O L~rd our G~d, King of the universe, who has chosen us from all peoples and given us the Torah. Blessed art Thou, O L~rd, giver of the Torah. Amen.”


            (Continued at top of next column)
 
Having accomplished his or her primary task of chanting the Scriptures, the child presents the last part of the ceremony-the "sermon" or "teaching". This is more commonly known as the Bar/Bat Mitzvah speech where the child gives a mini-sermon and thanks family and friends for participating in this joyous occasion. The child expounds upon the readings and how the passage is meaningful to his or her life. It can be quite inspiring to hear such comments from a teenager.
Priestly Blessing

As with weddings or other life events, it is common to give the Bar/Bat Mitzvah celebrant a gift to commemorate the occasion. Common gifts include books with religious or educational value, writing implements, savings bonds, or gift certificates. Because the Hebrew word for “life” (“chai”) is also the number 18, monetary gifts in multiples of $18.00 (ie. $18, $36, $180, etc.) are considered to be appropriate. Children of the Commandment usually receive their first tallit from their parents to be used on this occasion.

Among religious Jews, it is customary for a man who is blessed to reach the age of 83 to celebrate a second Bar Mitzvah. Using the reasoning that a normal lifespan is 70 years, an 83-year-old can be considered 13 in a second lifetime.

Preston Daniels personal commitment to Yeshua is an anointed one. Son of Dennis and Poppy Daniels, Preston will publicly express his desire to embrace the Word of HaShem, the ways of HaShem as revealed in the Torah, and as understood and expressed by the Messiah Yeshua on August 11, 2018. Preston has chosen Deuteronomy 13:4 as his Torah reading because it reached out to him.

“You shall walk after the L~rd your G~d and fear Him, and keep His commandments and obey His voice; you shall serve Him and hold fast to Him.”
—Deuteronomy 13:4

To reach this age of accountability and identify with the Jewish culture signifies to Preston that he will be more mature and be able to declare himself as a man. Preston’s idea of Bar Mitzvah means that he will now be more responsible. In the event that his brothers leave home, to him, this “coming of age” means he is ready to take over or take charge.

Preston plans to display his faith in the future by reading his Bible more, praying, and having a better relationship with HaShem.

According to Preston his father, Dennis, has been the most important role model for him. His Father has been significant in helping him prepare for this special event.

Hanukkah is Preston’s favorite Holiday. He enjoys spending this special time of the year with family.

What a joyous occasion to observe and celebrate with Preston, his parents, and his family as he proclaims his heart felt love for G~d.


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