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 Home > Bar Mitzvah Guide > Orthodox > Baruch Sh'Ptarani

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 Bar Mitzvah Blessing: Baruch Sh'Ptarani
Orthodox Perspective by Rivka C. Berman

If anything is a symbol Judaism’s understanding the realities of human nature, it is the Baruch Sh'ptarani blessing. A father customarily says this blessing at his aliyah during his son’s bar mitzvah. One would think that this would be the time a father would thank God for this wonderful son, this joy, this special child, but no. Instead the blessing states: Baruch sh'ptarani m’onsho shel zeh. “Blessed is He who free me from the penalties due to this one.”

Until a son reaches his bar mitzvah, his father is obligated to educate his son to do this mitzvot. A father thanks God for being given the opportunity to fulfill the mitzvah of teaching his son all the way through childhood. This privilege carries a burden of blame for a son’s misdeeds with it. After bar mitzvah whatever shortcomings there have been in the father’s teachings or if a son is neglectful in his observance, each is responsible for his own deeds.

This blessing starts a child off to becoming a healthy adult. It steers a child clear from getting stuck in the holding pattern of blame. “My parents didn’t love/discipline/give/______ (fill in the blank) me enough, so I can’t be a good husband/father/citizen.”

My father once said a true sign of adulthood accepting that your parents did the best they could with what they had to offer.

Baruch Sh'ptarani for an Adopted Son
As much as Judaism lauds the adoptive parents, it does not recognize the possibility of severing the ties of biological parentage. According to one opinion, even if a son has been adopted and raised by another, the biological father retains the right – if he is present – to receive an aliyah and say the Baruch Sh'ptarani blessing at his son’s bar mitzvah. Since the Baruch Sh'ptarani blessing does not mention God’s name, an adoptive father would not face a halachic problem if he wished to say the blessing for his adopted son. (Schachter, 112)

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