|Yalkut Bar Mitzvah|
An Anthology of Laws and Customs of a Bar Mitzvah in the Chabad Tradition
Bar Mitzvah Customs
by Rabbi Nissan Dovid Dubov
Published and copyright © by Sichos In English
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- A boy begins putting on tefillin two months before his Bar Mitzvah; at first without the berachah, then, a few weeks later with the berachah. This is a directive for all.
- The custom is not to recite the blessing "Shehechiyanu" when putting on the tefillin the first time.
- Both tefillin of Rashi and Rabbeinu Tam are put on two months before the Bar Mitzvah.
- The tefillin should be worn for the entire duration of the prayers.
- Some have the custom for the father or teacher to help the boy lay the tefillin for the first time, and make sure that the tefillin are positioned correctly. Thereafter, the boy should be supervised to make sure he is laying them correctly.
- If there is a Chol HaMoed within these two months, the starting date should be two months and a week before the Bar Mitzvah.
- There should be simchah on the day of the Bar Mitzvah comparable to that of a wedding. However Tachanun is recited.
- It is right and proper that the Bar Mitzvah boy should give of his own money to tzedakah on the day of his Bar Mitzvah, in the morning before Shacharis, and before Minchah. The tzedakah should preferably be given to an institution involved with Chinuch. If the Bar Mitzvah day falls on Shabbos he should give the tzedakah on the Friday before and on the Sunday after the Bar Mitzvah. His parents should do likewise.
- On the day of the Bar Mitzvah after Shacharis, the congregants gather together, and the father of the Bar Mitzvah boy speaks briefly in honor of the simchah. Afterwards, the Bar Mitzvah boy recites the Maamar, after which cake and Mashke are offered to those assembled.
- The custom is for the Bar Mitzvah boy to recite the Maamar "Issa B'Midrash Tehillim" which was the Maamar recited by the Rebbe Rashab on his Bar Mitzvah in the year 5653.
- During the day, the Bar Mitzvah boy should learn the 14th chapter in Tehillim.
- The meal celebrating the Bar Mitzvah is held in the evening. It is customary for the Bar Mitzvah boy to repeat the Maamar at the meal, in addition to saying Divrei Torah - as is the custom in all communities.
In a letter, the Rebbe expressed his satisfaction on being informed that the Bar Mitzvah boy had said a Derashah based on Likkutei Sichos, and the Rebbe praised the clarity and style in which it was written - in a way that all would understand.
- One should not interrupt the Bar Mitzvah boy in the middle of his Dvar Torah (by singing etc.) However, in communities where it is the custom to interrupt the Dvar Torah, one should do so in the following way; first the Dvar Torah should be said through from beginning to end. Then the Dvar Torah should be repeated and it is during the repetition that he may be interrupted.
- The Bar Mitzvah meal is considered a seudas mitzvah, and at the meal it is proper for the parents to give thanks and praise to Hashem for giving them the merit to raise a child to Bar Mitzvah and to educate him in the ways of Torah and mitzvos.
- Those present at the meal should bless the Bar Mitzvah boy in all he requires both materially and spiritually. They express the wish that the Bar Mitzvah boy should grow to be a chassid, Yerai Shomayim G-d fearing, and a lamdan - a "chayal." This blessing should be given in the spirit of the well-known saying of the Rebbeim that a chassidisher farbrengen can achieve what even the Archangel Michoel cannot achieve. Those attending the Bar Mitzvah should also actively participate in the simchah by saying divrei Torah of their own.
- Many have the custom of reading a letter from the Rebbe written in honor of a Bar Mitzvah.
- Some have the custom of honoring the Bar Mitzvah boy by having him lead the Benching.
- One does not recite the blessing Shehechiyanu on the occasion of the Bar Mitzvah.
- It is customary for the Bar Mitzvah boy and his parents to wear Shabbos clothes on the day of the Bar Mitzvah.
- According to the letter of the law it is not necessary that a Bar Mitzvah boy do teshuvah for those sins committed before Bar Mitzvah age, however it is proper for a boy to accept upon himself some form of Teshuvah for sins committed in his youth.
- An effort should be made to arrange for the Bar Mitzvah boy's first Aliyah to be on a Monday or Thursday morning or on Shabbos during Minchah.
- G-d's name should not be mentioned when the blessing Boruch Shepatorani is recited. This blessing is not only recited on Shabbos, but can be made on Mondays, Thursdays and Rosh Chodesh as well.
- (Back to text) HaYom Yom, entry for Menachem Av 2, p. 75. See also Igros Kodesh of the Rebbe Rayatz, Vol. VII, p. 24. Shulchan Aruch HaRav, Ch. 37 (end). There is an alternative opinion voiced in the Poskim, that since tefillin requires purity of body, they should not be layed before the Bar Mitzvah, however, since the Rebbes of Chabad have voiced their opinion and have declared that this is a directive to the public, therefore it is a mitzvah to listen to their words - Igros Kodesh of the Rebbe, Vol. XVII, p. 61. As regards the timing of the berachah see Igros Kodesh, Vol. XI, p. 76; Vol. 14 p. 63; Likkutei Sichos, Vol. XI, p. 200, where the Rebbe explains that until the boy knows how to lay the tefillin properly, he should not make a berachah for it could be in vain. Since not everybody is the same, and some learn quicker than others, no time limits were set in the directive, only when the boy is proficient and the tefillin layed properly, then a berachah may be recited.
Regarding an orphan - although some suggest that he should lay tefillin at the age of twelve, however the above directive was for all, including an orphan, and he too should put on tefillin for the first time two months before the Bar Mitzvah - Igros Kodesh, Vol. III, p. 136; Vol. 9 p. 193.
- (Back to text) Likkutei Sichos, Vol. XI, p. 289. Sefer Hisvaadiyus 5742, Vol. II, p. 1112.
- (Back to text) See Likkutei Sichos, Vol. II, p. 507; Sefer HaSichos 5749, Vol. II, p. 632, Likkutei Sichos, Vol. XXVI, p. 404.
- (Back to text) Igros Kodesh, Vol. XVIII, p. 266.
- (Back to text) Os Chaim 37:5.
- (Back to text) Likkutei Sichos, Vol. XXI, p. 357, Igros Kodesh, Vol. XXIII, p. 89.
- (Back to text) See note of the Rebbe printed in Sefer HaMaamarim 5702, p. 143. See also Likkutei Sichos, Vol. V, p. 86 and Sefer HaMinhagim-Chabad p. 75 quoting Zohar Chadash, Bereishis 15:4.
- (Back to text) From a letter of the Rebbe 24 Sivan 5728. See Sichos Kodesh, 11 Nissan 5722; sec. 1; Likkutei Sichos, Vol. XXXV, p. 276. There are various reasons offered by the Rebbe why Tachanun is recited; 1) for the day of Bar Mitzvah is not a Yom Tov, rather a workday, which indicates to the Bar Mitzvah boy that he has to work in Torah and mitzvos, 2) it is an auspicious day to supplicate - rather like on a day of a tzaddik's yahrzeit when it is the Chabad custom to recite tachanun; 3) for the intent of Tachanun is teshuvah and this reminds the Bar Mitzvah boy that nothing stands in the way of teshuvah - see Heichal Menachem Vol. 1 p. 45-47. There are other minhagim that do not recite Tachanun. See Darkei Chaim VeShalom (Munkatch) no. 192; Kitzos HaShulchan (by R. Avraham Chaim Noeh) Vol. 1:24:5; Badei HaShulchan ibid., no. 19. See also "The Laws and customs of Bar Mitzvah by R. Adler (Yerushalayim 5734) Ch. 3, p. 73 note 5.
- (Back to text) If he usually gives tzedakah at these times, then more should be given on the day of the Bar Mitzvah - Yechidus, 13 Shvat 5750.
- (Back to text) Likkutei Sichos, Vol. XX, p. 579.
- (Back to text) Yechidus for Bar Mitzvah 5742; Likkutei Sichos, Vol. XX, p. 578; Vol. XXVI, p. 347; Hisvaadiyus 5746, Vol. II, p. 84.
- (Back to text) Sefer HaMinhagim, ibid.
- (Back to text) Likkutei Sichos, Vol. XVI, p. 499. In Igros Kodesh, Vol. XIX, p. 111, the Rebbe writes that this Maamar is easy to learn by heart.
- (Back to text) Yechidus for Bar Mitzvah 5742; Likkutei Sichos, Vol. XX, p. 578, Hisvaadiyus 5746, Vol. II, p. 485.
- (Back to text) See Magen Avraham to Shulchan Aruch, 225:4.
- (Back to text) This was a directive from the Rebbe in a Yechidus with the chassid Reb Yisrael Leibov. The Rebbe said that this may be publicized.
- (Back to text) In Igros Kodesh, Vol. XVII, p. 230 the Rebbe writes that it is his firm opinion that the Bar Mitzvah boy needs to prepare for the Bar Mitzvah, not only the Maamar but also something in nigleh. As to whether the nigleh is said in public, there are different customs. However see Hisvaadiyus 5750, Vol. I, p. 162, where the Rebbe writes that the subject of nigleh should be a pilpul, and since this is a custom that has spread in Klal Yisrael, it is a proof that it is a good custom, and as the Rambam writes in Hilchos Mamrim 2:2 that customs that have spread and been accepted in Klal Yisrael have the status of commandments. See also Zohar, Mishpatim p. 98a, Kaf HaChaim, 225:11; Siddur Otzar HaTefillos, p. 267; Ba'er Haitev 225:4 in the name of Maharshal.
- (Back to text) 3 Nissan 5738.
- (Back to text) From a letter of the Rebbe 4 Tishrei 5718, printed in Likkutei Sichos, Vol. X, p. 208; see Igros Kodesh, Vol. XV, p. 401; Vol. XVI, p. 3.
Apparently the reason behind the custom to interrupt in the middle of the Dvar Torah is so not to embarrass one who does not have what to say. On a number of occasions, the Rebbe spoke about this custom.
In a private audience with the Gerrer Rebbe Reb Pinchas Menachem Alter o.b.m. and Rabbi Menashe Klein on the 13th Elul 5739, the Rebbe related that when the Previous Rebbe came to Poland, he celebrated the Bar Mitzvah of his grandchild. The custom in Poland was to interrupt the boy in the middle. The Previous Rebbe said about this custom, "when you go to a place, you should follow its custom, yet on the other hand there is the beauty in hearing chassidus, therefore the Maamar should be said once in its entirety and then repeated, and interrupted by the repetition." That is how it was. They allowed the Bar Mitzvah to finish once and then in order to keep to the minhag, he repeated the Maamar and was then interrupted. The Rebbe then commented, "When I arrived at the Bar Mitzvah I did not know of such a custom and the whole thing was incredible in my eyes - a Jew says words of Torah and somebody interrupts him!?"
On the 24th of Sivan 5751, the day after the wedding of Rabbi Levi Yitzchak Klein, the son the secretary of the Rebbe, Rabbi Binyomin Klein, the Rebbe inquired of the Mazkir whether the chosson had been interrupted in the middle of the Maamar. The Mazkir answered that following the Rebbe's directive in the past the chosson had not been interrupted. The Rebbe responded that after the chosson has finished the Maamar once, he should repeat it again and be interrupted on the second time around - this is the custom and the custom should not be annulled. The Rebbe then instructed the Mazkir to publicize this matter. (From a collection of the Rebbe's instructions as regards weddings, printed by Kehot p. 139)
- (Back to text) See Sefer HaSichos 5748, Vol. II, p. 403.
- (Back to text) Igros Kodesh, Vol. XXIII, p. 34.
- (Back to text) See Sichah of Shabbos Parshas Metzora Shabbos HaGadol, 12 Nissan 5730, for an explanation of the term Chayal; Likkutei Sichos, Vol. X, pp. 263-4; Vol. IX, pp. 272-4. See also Igros Kodesh, Vol. VII, p. 213.
- (Back to text) Igros Kodesh, Vol. X, p. 376.
- (Back to text) Igros Kodesh, Vol. XIX, p. 271.
- (Back to text) Igros Kodesh, Vol. IV, p. 344.
- (Back to text) Minhagim of Vermaissa 289; Aruch HaShulchan, 199:4; Responsa Maharam Brisk Vol. II, No. 68.
- (Back to text) Sefer HaSichos 5748, Vol. II, p. 403. The reason why the blessing is not made is not because there is a doubt whether the boy will keep Torah and mitzvos, rather because the blessing is only made on an actual pleasure that is here now, and not on a pleasure that will come in the future. The pleasure of the Bar Mitzvah is the fulfillment of mitzvos that will come in the days after the Bar Mitzvah, and throughout his entire lifetime - it lies only in potential on the day of Bar Mitzvah and therefore the blessing is not recited - footnote 71 ibid.
- (Back to text) See Ben Ish Chai Parshas Re'eh 17.
- (Back to text) Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim, 343:11; see Likkutei Sichos, Vol. XIV, p. 144.
- (Back to text) Sefer HaMinhagim, ibid. This is a directive of the Alter Rebbe - See Likkutei Dibburim, Vol. II, p. 267 at length. See also Yechidus of R. S. Zalmanov, printed in Heichal Menachem p. 211 where because of the auspicious nature of the time of Shabbos Minchah, the Rebbe instructed that the Bar Mitzvah boy should have an Aliyah on Thursday, the day of the Bar Mitzvah and also on Shabbos Minchah.
See also Igros Kodesh, Vol. XVII, p. 87 for a reason as to why some have the custom to call the boy up first for Maftir, however, as the Rebbe there explains, this is not an accepted custom (even halachically - see Likkutei Mahariach 136:1, Responsa Divrei Malkiel Vol. 1:4.)
- (Back to text) "Boruch Shepatorani Me'onesh Halozeh" - this is the text in the Alter Rebbe's Siddur - see Kitzos HaShulchan 65:6, Badei HaShulchan 13 ibid. The blessing should be recited when the Bar Mitzvah boy has an Aliyah, not when the father has an Aliyah - Heichal Menachem p. 213.
- (Back to text) From a letter of the Rebbe 27 Nissan 5713. The Previous Rebbe related that the Alter Rebbe did make this blessing reciting G-d's name upon the Bar Mitzvah of his son the Mitteler Rebbe - see Likkutei Dibburim, Vol. II, p. 528. See Kovetz Yagdil Torah (Yerushalayim) Vol. 5 p. 85. In R. Adler's book, "The Laws and customs of Bar Mitzvah" Ch. 5, 3:12 he writes in connection with this matter: I have heard from the elders of Chabad that only the Rebbes of Chabad recite the blessing with G-d's name whereas chassidim do not mention G-d's name, the reason being that since the Rebbe will definitely fulfill the mitzvah of chinuch in its entirety, then so too may the blessing the said in its entirety, whereas others, it may be doubtful whether they have fulfilled the mitzvah of chinuch properly and they therefore do not mention G-d's name. See also Igros Kodesh, Vol. VII, p. 228 where the Rebbe writes in the name of the Previous Rebbe that although the Rebbeim did say Hashem's name, this is not a directive for all.