bar mitzvah, bat mitzvah

Photo by Stephen Lam
Photo by Stephen Lam

Often translated as “son of the commandment” in Hebrew and Aramaic since “bar” is “son” in Aramaic and “mitzvah” is “commandment” in both Hebrew and Aramaic. [“Bat” is daughter in Hebrew and Aramaic.] [However, a more accurate translation of bar/bat mitzvah is “subject to the commandments.”]

This is a milestone in Judaism in which a person is no longer a child in the eyes of Jewish law and is now responsible for his or her own actions spiritually, ethically and morally. A boy automatically reaches the milestone at age 13, while a girl reaches it at age 12 (bat mitzvah). No ceremony is required to mark the passage, although religious ceremonies and receptions are commonplace.
[Technically, the term refers to the child who is coming of age, and it is strictly correct to refer to someone as “becoming a bar (or bat) mitzvah.” However, the term is commonly used to refer to the coming-of-age ceremony itself, and people often talk about “having a bar mitzvah” or “going to a bar mitzvah.”]


REFERENCE: Religion Stylebook
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