It seems like it was only yesterday, when you got them their very first kiddush cup. Just a tiny one, so that they can hold while singing the kiddush along with you. They got about two words right, but were as proud as can be, to feel included.
Then it was time for their very own siddur. The one that includes just the basic prayers like Modeh Ani, Shma, and illustrations of kids with big eyes looking up to Hashem.
And then they were already in school. All of a sudden they were telling the story of the Parsha at the Shabbat table, and this time it was your turn to feel proud.
At that point, you somehow had the audacity to blink, and all of a sudden it's their Bat and Bat Mitzvah. Mazel Tov! It's absolutely inconceivable that 12 or 13 years have somehow gone by. You know the saying - "The days are long but the years are short?". Well, 12 or 13 of those short years have passed, and now it's time to get ready for their Bat or Bar Mitzvah.
Whether you're the parent, sibling, family member or friend of the person celebrating, a Bat and Bar mitzvah are very exciting events to plan, attend and celebrate.
What makes 12 and 13 such a special age? Why don't we stop being special people, with special ceremonies, and decide to make a big fuss about a different age, like 16… Maybe name it after a flavor of some kind… Perhaps not sour, but sweet…?
Why not? Let's take a few paragraphs to understand Why Not, and answer these pressing questions and more, shall we?
Have you heard the stories from the past, 2 generations or more back, about young girls, married off at 12? Mothers at 14, grandmothers by the time they're 30?
The world was a different place, back then.
People had to constantly look out for themselves and their families, but not in the same sense that we do today. People had to actually make sure that their family members remained safe and at home, away from the hands of malevolent people.
Jews around the world didn't have the wonderful privilege that we enjoy today, of feeling safe in our country, enjoying a plentiful life and choosing our partners.
The reason young girls were married off at a young age in the past, was to keep them safe. Their parents, looking to keep their daughters from harm, had to marry them off very early, to keep them from being taken away by local thugs. If the girl was unmarried, said thugs would take notice of the pretty little jewish girl, and just take her away. However, if the girl was married, she was safe.
Seems like those wild animals also adhered to some honor code, respecting the fact that the girl is now married and not abducting her. So the solution was to marry off girls at a very young age.
Today we can't imagine a situation where a 12 year old gets married. We go through great lengths to allow our children to remain childish and naive for as long as possible. Most of them are already into makeup by the time they're 12, but that's the current trend, and totally by choice.
What does the young marriage saga have to do with Bat and Bar Mitzvah?
It's a great example of how times have changed.
In the past, children at the age of 12 and 13, were considered semi adults. They were expected to start taking their life seriously, to help their families, and especially, to assume responsibility for their spiritual faith.
A Bat and Bar Mitzvah, at the age of 12 and 13, are considered grown ups, for the sake of Mitzvahs.
When children are born, they're soft and pure. They're not committed to perform any Mitzvahs, and they're not held against any sins they may commit.
As they grow older, around the age of 3, we're expected to start conveying the message of Mitzvahs, responsibility, prayers and brachas to them, so that they can start turning those into habits which will grow with them into everyday habits. Until the age of 12 or 13, their sins are on us, their parents, their spiritual guardians. That's why we say - "Good riddance - She ptarani me olo shel ze", when they become Bat or Bar mitzvah - the burden of their spiritual fate is now laid on their shoulders - goodbye and good luck!
So, even though today, we still make pancakes for our 12 and 13 year olds, in the past, they were considered grown up enough to get married and take responsibility for their physical and spiritual existence.
Well, each culture has their own rite of passage. Just like the Quinceanera, which sanctifies the age of 15, and the well renowned Sweet 16, for us it's 12 and 13.
The answer to this correlates to our previous topic - 12 and 13 are when puberty onsets, and the idea behind Bat and Bar Mitzvah is the responsibility the young adult now takes on. At this age, we believe the kids are ready to take charge and to decide between right and wrong.
Well, first, you have an entire category filled with Bar & Bat Mitzvah Gifts to choose from. But of course we're here to help you choose. So here's the lineup of gifts you should really consider getting for the happy birthday girl or boy -
The Diamond Tree of Life necklace is a classic to last well until the Bat Mitzvah reaches old age AD 120 BH and will pass it onto the next generation.
A fun Mezuzah is a great gift for any event, so here's a giraffe for you! Sorry. A Giraffe mezuzah. And also a Hockey Mezuzah. Yep. Hockey mezuzah. We don't know what about you but we simply can't get enough of these fun mezuzahs.
If you're looking to get some serious items as a gift, or if you're the ones planning the event and need to gather all the essentials, we've got you covered with the Bat and Bat Mitzvah category right here.
This category is organized into sub categories like Tallitos, gifts for the tutor and more. We recommend you use it as a checklist, to make sure you've got everything needed for your happy occasion.
For example, did you remember to get a Torah Pointer? The Ezbah? Here's a classic option made of sterling silver.
A nice little Tallit clip shaped like the walls of Jerusalem is also essential in our book.
And what about a Tallit? You can't have a Bat or Bar mitzvah without a nice Tallit -
You wouldn't believe the amazing selection of Tallitos we have lined up for you. The Women's Tallit category and the Men's Tallit category are both full of beautiful options, you're likely to wind up getting more than one. The whole family can say שהחיינו together, wouldn't that feel special?