web analytics
November 28, 2014 / 6 Kislev, 5775
At a Glance
Judaism
Sponsored Post
IDC Herzliya Campus A Day on Campus

To mark IDC Herzliya’s 20th anniversary, we spent a day following Prof. Uriel Reichman, IDC’s founder and president, and Jonathan Davis, VP for External Relations, around its delightful campus.



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
IDF Chief Rabbi Rafi Peretz delivers lecture.
IDF Chief Rabbi: Nothing is Holy to Muslims on Temple Mount except Al Aqsa
Latest Judaism Stories
The Story of Jacob and Esau (2010) 11 x 19, bronze relief by Lynda Caspe. Courtesy Derfner Judaica Museum – Hebrew Home at Riverdale

Yaacov returns the stolen blessing of material wealth and physical might to Esav

Rapps-Rabbi-Joshua-logo

The Jew, from the perspective of the name Yaakov, is dependent on the non-Jewish world. This can be seen today in the relationship between the State of Israel and the United States

Lessons-Emunah-logo

Yet, ultimately, looking back, these “setbacks” turned out to be really for the patient’s best – for the good.

In the afternoon, he reached into his pocket to check for the money, but it was empty. “The $50 bill must have fallen out,” Alex exclaimed. “It’s got to be in one of the rooms I was just at.”

Although the conversion ceremony involves more than circumcision and immersion, these are the two essential requirements, without which the conversion is ineffective.

Question: If Abraham was commanded to circumcise his descendants on the eighth day, why do Arabs – who claim to descend from Abraham through Yishmael – wait until their children are 13 to circumcise them? I am aware that this is a matter of little consequence to our people. Nevertheless, this inconsistency is one that piques my curiosity.

M. Goldman
(Via E-mail)

Rashi in Shabbos 9b writes that the reason why the tefillah of Ma’ariv is a reshus is because it was instituted corresponding to the burning of the eimurim from the korbanos – which was performed at night.

It almost sounds as if Hashem is saying, “I have to keep Yaakov from getting too comfortable; otherwise he will forget Me. I can’t promise him sustenance because then he won’t need Me. He won’t write. He won’t call. He won’t love Me anymore.”

The Decree Of 1587
“Two Kabs Of Dinars Were Given…To King Yanai”
(Yevamos 61a)

Simply too many cases of prayers being answered to deny it makes a difference to our fate. It does.

Prayer is our language: Hakol kol Yaakov – the voice is the voice of Jacob – the voice of prayer.

Jacob cries, overcome by the knowledge that his great love for Rachel will end in unbearable pain.

There’s a perfect mirror between Jacob running away from Esav to when he reunites with his brother.

Yitzhak called you Esav and you answered him, then he called you Yaakov and you also answered him!”

Yitzchak thought the Jewish people needed dual leadership: Eisav the physical; Yaakov the spiritual

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: