web analytics
September 22, 2014 / 27 Elul, 5774
At a Glance
Judaism
Sponsored Post
Meir Panim with Soldiers 5774 Roundup: Year of Relief and Service for Israel’s Needy

Meir Panim implements programs that serve Israel’s neediest populations with respect and dignity. Meir Panim also coordinated care packages for families in the South during the Gaza War.



Should An 80-Year-Old Have A Bar Mitzvah?

Cohen-Rabbi-J-Simcha-NEW

Question: A number of synagogues feature bar mitzvah celebrations for elderly Jews. Is this proper?

Answer: The basis for having a party on one’s bar mitzvah is a statement in the Gemara to the effect that if blind people were obligated to observe commandments just like regular people, they would make a special party. In other words the obligation to perform mitzvot is deemed a joy that merits a party (see Kiddushin 31a; also Yam Shel Shlomo).

Thus, it makes sense that 13-year-olds have a party when they become obligated to perform mitzvot for the first time. What if, however, one never had the chance to make such a party? For example, numerous survivors of the Holocaust never had the opportunity to have a bar mitzvah when they turned 13. These survivors feel they missed out and want to publicly demonstrate their joy at being able to observe Judaism without restraints.

There is no obligation or tradition of celebrating a bar mitzvah years after one turns 13. Nonetheless, perhaps we can find some precedent in the Gemara (Moed Katan 28a) which records that several rabbis made parties when they reached the ages of 60, 70, and 80.

At 60, for example, they celebrated the fact that they lived past the age of kareit (dying or having children die during one’s lifetime). This punishment is not meted out to anyone over 60, so reaching this age is reason to celebrate and thank G-d. The ages of 70 and 80 are also cut-off dates for various punishments.

Accordingly, upon reaching these ages in contemporary times, one might seek to celebrate by being called to the Torah and making a party. And perhaps this Gemara also offers some kind of precedent for thanking Hashem with a festive meal, even way past the age of 13.

About the Author: Rabbi Cohen, a Jerusalem Prize recipient, is the author of eight sefarim on Jewish law. His latest, “Jewish Prayer the Right Way” (Urim Publications), is available at Amazon.com and select Judaica stores.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

8 Responses to “Should An 80-Year-Old Have A Bar Mitzvah?”

  1. Due to financial and learning restraints and my extended family and ex husband not caring my son did not have a bar mitzfah at 13..He's 20 now and hoping to study for one now..We wont make a fancy party but we may have a get together after he learns the Torah portions necessary…..so he can know them the rest of his life..Amen

  2. Loren Renee says:

    Absolutely, bring on the fountain pens! Lol

    Seriously, I think any age that moment strikes is okay. People miss out for a variety of reasons, many of today’s seniors lost out due to the war and the years on instability that followed. They may have found it empty after the enormous losses of family and friends. They may not have known they were Jewish, or felt Jewish, or feared being known as a Jew. A balchuva May Have felt their bar/bat mitzva was lacking depth or meaning if their families were overly assimilated or if it was all party no meaning. What is important is what we can do today.

  3. Alan Kardon says:

    Of course, why not? I salute them and wish them the very best. Mazel Tov.

  4. remember us Rabbi Cohen Snow birds in to CENTURY VILLAGE W. PALM??? We are indeed ready for the Bat. Sol is now 89. Where can we meet?

    We so much were enlightened and uplifted by your leadership in the short time that we knew you. Zei gesunt. Keep on writing. Be well
    carol and sol fineblum
    still plugging away in my pro-Israel advocacy writing.

  5. Jerry Blaz says:

    At the age of 70, people reach the age what is considered an heroic age, or g'vurot. Then, 13 years later, a second bar mitzvah can take place, when the individual, now age 83, celebrates the reaching of this second bar mitzvah. At least, that is how I did it when I became 83 years old.

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
ISIS seized control of Quneitra, at least temporarily, towards the end of August 2014.
Israel Watching Northern Border with Syria, Lebanon
Latest Judaism Stories
Hertzberg-092614

Perhaps the most important leadership lesson Elkana taught us is to never underestimate the difference a single person can make.

Teller-Rabbi-Hanoch-NEW

“he’s my rabbi” the Black painter said with pride, pulling out a photo of the Rebbe from his wallet

Rabbi Avi Weiss, head of theYeshivat Chovevei Torah. Rabbi Asher Lopatin will be replacing him as head of the school.

The Torah notes that even when we are dispersed God will return us to Him.

Rabbi Sacks

Simply, for Rambam the number 14 (2×7) was his favored organizing principle.

One of the cornerstones of our Jewish life is chesed, kindness. Chesed can only be taught by example

Our understanding of what is and what is not possible creates imagined ceilings of opportunity for us.

This young, innocent child gave me a powerful, warm surge of energy and strength.

The Chafetz Chaim answered that there are two forms of teshuvah; teshuvah m’ahava and teshuvah m’yirah.

Question: I recently loaned money to a friend who has been able to repay only part of it. This was an interest-free loan. We exchanged a signed IOU, not a proper shtar with witnesses, since I have always trusted her integrity and only wanted a document that confirms what was loaned and what was repaid. Now that shemittah is approaching, what should I do? Should I forgive the loan? And if my friend is not able to repay it, may I deduct the unpaid money from my ma’aser requirement?

Name Withheld

A Role Reversal
‘Return, O Wayward Sons…’
(Chagigah 15a)

When the Kleins returned, however, they were dismayed to see that the renters did a poor job cleaning up after themselves.

In Parshas Re’eh the Torah tells us about the bechira to adhere to the commandments of Hashem and refrain from sin. In Parshas Nitzavim, the Torah tells us that we have the choice to repent after we have sinned.

As Moshe is about to die, why does God tell him about how the Israelites will ruin everything?

Jonah objected to God accepting repentance based on ulterior motives and likely for short duration.

This week’s parsha offers a new covenant; a covenant that speaks to national life unlike any other

More Articles from Rabbi J. Simcha Cohen
Cohen-080814-Sign

Is God apologizing for taking away my Father? Is God telling me that He is sorry?

Cohen-Rabbi-J-Simcha-NEW

Question: At Birkat Kohanim, who says the phrase, “Am k’doshecha ka’amur”?

Question: How can one determine whether someone is a true disciple of a rav, Rebbe, or rosh yeshiva?

Question: Does halacha agree with the Supreme Court decision of Roe v. Wade permitting women to have abortions?

Question: When someone puts on a talit to lead services, should he recite a berachah?

Question: A number of synagogues feature bar mitzvah celebrations for elderly Jews. Is this proper?

Hashem understood their complaint and therefore selected the ritual mitzvah of sukkah to test them.

Question: Why is Shavuot celebrated as a two-day Yom Tov?

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/halacha-hashkafa/should-an-80-year-old-have-a-bar-mitzvah/2014/06/03/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: