Bar Mitzvah and Bat Mitzvah is a ritual in the Jewish Community which is celebrated by the Jews in happiness of their son or daughter attaining the age of twelve and thirteen respectively. This ritual represents the starting point of the journey of adulthood. ‘Bar Mitzvah’ in the literal sense means ‘son of commandment’ and similarly ‘Bat’ means daughter. Both the terms are in Aramaic language usually spoken by Jews.
The time of Mitzvah is an important time for every boy and girl belonging to Jewish community. At the same time even the parents feel proud about themselves and their child and want to make this event a memorable one. On the day of Mitzvah all the rights and obligations that any Jew adult is required to follow are imposed on the boy or a girl. They are liable to rights like taking part in all the Jewish religious ceremonies and other religious activities. They can enter into any kind of contracts, become a witness in the religious court of law and perform any other legal activities. They can even be counted as a part of ’Miniyan’. Miniyan basically means the necessity or the minimum attendance of people required when any kind of religious activity is to be performed.
The celebrations of Bar Mitzvah and Bat Mitzvah have been introduced in the modern times. Earlier such grand celebrations used to not take place. Basically a boy on attaining the age of thirteen and a girl at the age of twelve automatically becomes of age respectively. In the ancient times, once the boy or a girl attains the age of Mitzvah, either on Saturdays or any other weekdays he/she was called over the weekly readings of their religious prayers and then everyone used to recite blessings for his/her well-being.
13 or 12 is the age when a boy or a girl becomes an adult fully in every possible sense? The answer is no. It is rightly said in “Perkei Avot” that the age of Mitzvah is the age where a boy or a girl becomes ready or prepare themselves to follow the commandments. The right age for marriage is 18 years and at the age of 20 years one should become financially independent i.e, capable enough to earn his livelihood. At the age of 12 or 13, he or she only becomes capable of judging what is right and wrong. So this is the time when a boy or a girl can be held responsible for their deeds.
Are gifts given on this auspicious occasion? Yes! Many people give gifts that would be useful at the age of 12 or 13. Earlier people used to gift anything worth $18 or in the multiples of 18. They considered it as a lucky charm as the number 18 is a fortuitous number for Jewish religion. Doing charity with the hands of your child on the day of Mitzvah is also a great idea.