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Home > Bar Mitzvah Guide > Bar Mitzvah Meaning

What is a Bar Mitzvah?
by Rivka C. Berman

A note: Throughout this segment there are many instances where the terms “bar mitzvah” and “bat mitzvah” are interchangeable. In sections where gender doesn’t matter, the sentences will open with a reference to “bar or bat mitzvah.” Following this, bar and bat will be used interchangeably.

Bar and Bat Mitzvah: Literal Meaning

Rabbi Eliyahu Kitov, author of The Jew and His Home, points out that the words “bar mitzvah” and “bat mitzvah” mean “son of the commandment” and “daughter of the commandment” respectively. To be the son or daughter of the commandments is a positive state. The opposite of this is to be a “ba’al aveirah,” and the word “ba’al” means “husband.”

A Jew’s relationship to the word of God as embodied by the mitzvot unbreakable, like the everlasting bond between parent and child. But divorcing from the bond of sin is possible and praiseworthy.

Though the celebration of this rite of passage is based on the concept of a Jewish boy and girl transitioning from childhood to young adulthood, it is perceived somewhat differently by the many streams in Judaism.

Mazornet/Jewish Celebrations is happy to include information and resources regarding the meaning, the history, the rituals, customs, conventions, and practices of celebrating a Bar Mitzvah and Bat Mitzvah prevalent in the three main Jewish denominations: Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform. Mazal Tov and Enjoy! 


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