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Bar Mitzvah & Bat Mitzvah Ceremony

The Mishnah and the Talmud teach that a boy attains religions maturity at the age of 13 and becomes a Bar Mitzvah, or a "Son of the Commandment". At this time, a boy assumes religions duties and is referred to as a man.

The rabbis teach that men are born with yetzer hara, the evil inclination, while the yetzer hatov, the good inclination, begins at the age of 13. According to the Talmud, Abraham was 13 years old when he rejected the idol worship practised by his father. From then on he became a servant of God.

When a boy reaches the end of his 12th year, he is called upon to read the Torah portion (Parashah) for that week and expound on the passage. This is to show his religions coming of age. The rabbi pronounces his blessing over him, enabling him to take part in the minyan, the 10 men required to conduct a prayer service.

The sages connected Psalm 2:7 to the Bar Mitzvah: "Thou art My son, today I have begotten thee". The Bar Mitzvah boy is regarded as having been born again.

Jesus, who was born and raised a Jew, was circumcised on the eighth day after his birth (Luke 2:21) and also underwent the Bar Mitzvah custom. When He reached the end of his 12th year, he presented his Bar Mitzvah sermon to the priests at the Temple in Jerusalem, astonishing everyone present (Luke 2:41-52).

In modern times, 12-year-old girls began to celebrate the Bat Mitzvah, or Daughter of the Commandment. However they are not called upon to read the Torah or give a commentary except in Reform synagogues.

The rabbis say, "I speak to my son about God until he is 13, but from the age of 13, I speak to God about my son". This axiom means that we should have taught our children all the truths of the faith by the time they are 13. Afterwards, we can only pray for them.