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Second Bar Mitzvah?

Second Bar Mitzvah?

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Question:

At what age does a Jewish man have his second bar mitzvah? Is it any different than the first time around?

Answer:

Though some people symbolically celebrate a second bar mitzvah at a later point in life, the bar mitzvah essentially marks the day someone becomes obligated to do the mitzvahs. This happens on a boy's thirteenth birthday, whether it was celebrated or not. This is the meaning of the word "bar mitzvah"—a man bound by the mitzvah.

It follows that once someone has passed that age, he is "bar mitzvahed" until the final day of his life. This is something to celebrate every day – the fact that we were enjoined by G‑d to be bound to Him through His Torah and the commandments.1

But some people like to celebrate again, often after a period of spiritual reawakening and rededication to Torah study and observance. So they choose a milestone birthday when they are once again called to the Torah, and they read the Torah portion that they read on their thirteenth birthday (or the Torah portion that would have been read on that date). Now this is a fine idea, but not at all obligatory.

Another bar mitzvah milestone is the mitzvah of tefillin. We begin wearing them at age 13 and continue to do so every weekday from then on. If someone who became lax in his observance would like to rededicate himself to fulfilling this special mitzvah on a constant basis, and celebrate it as a sort of "re-bar mitzvah," that too is a good idea.

Footnotes
1.

And specifically annually on the anniversary of that date, which also happens to be one's birthday.

Rabbi Baruch S. Davidson is a writer who lives with his family in Brooklyn, N.Y.
All names of persons and locations or other identifying features referenced in these questions have been omitted or changed to preserve the anonymity of the questioners.
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Anonymous Winnipeg, Canada via chabadwinnipeg.org June 13, 2013

At my Conservative synagogue, the Rabbis have taught us that once you have had your Bar Mitzvah, you have had it, but it is a lovely idea to celebrate the anniversary of your Bar Mitzvah - particularly the 70th anniversary. This explanation makes a lot of sense to me. It has become quite common for 83 year old men who are in good health, to practice with the Chazzan for awhile and then to chant the same Haftorah that they did 70 years earlier. it is always a wonderful occasion to see these men enjoying their simcha surrounded by children and grandchildren. And, at this chanting of their Haftorah they have a much greater appreciation for it than they did at age 13. Any reason to ascend the Bimah for a Torah honor is a reason to celebrate. Reply

Ed Hoboken, NJ December 8, 2010

Second bar mitzvah I am using the occasion to invite a diverse group of people: siblings and their families, cousins and their families, neighbors, relatives of my wife, as well as active members of my synagogue.

My speech will include the struggles of my parents, grandparents, grandparents in Europe under wartime conditions. This includes the mortal wounding of one grandfather and the other grandfather and his family being killed in the Holocaust. We are so fortunate to be living in the USA. Reply

Bar Mitzvah Photographer Seattle, WA November 13, 2009

Beautiful Events To Remember Some of the most beautiful Bar Mitzvahs I have ever attended were those of adults; especially 2nd ones. Reply

Rabbi Joseph Klein Los Angeles, CA October 27, 2009

Re: 83 Though the explanation for making a Bar Mitzvah at 83 sounds wonderful, this custom has no source in traditional Jewish practice. But, like the rabbi writes, if that will make someone recommit to some Jewish observance, good on them! Reply

Tamara Pechthalt San Andrews, Colombia October 27, 2009

Nothing comes by chance No one just wakes up one day and it’s suddenly 13. It´s a process that we can follow with the calendar. Our readiness can be traced and recognized by the patterns of our mental and physical development .Torah in its wisdom makes such assumptions as educators, psychologist, endocrinologist and other experts make regarding our development in their own area of expertise. Torah has a much higher understanding of who we are and what and when we are ready for something. Nothing happens in a vacuum, it is an ongoing process. We don´t turn 12, 13 or 18 and by magic are more mature. We have been getting ready for this, testing our selves, getting closer to it and will still do it for the rest of our lives. Some will meet that challenge with pride and commitment; some will run away from it. A Bar/ Bat mitzvah is wisdom for us to take and embrace. It´s given to us when we are ready want it or not. It´s a gift and a right that comes with responsibility. Reply

Dan Rusen Richmond, BC October 26, 2009

2nd Bar Mitzvah I thnk you forgot something. It says in scripture that a normal man's life is seventy years, with extra strength - eighty.

Thus thirteen years after one's normal allotted years, at age 83 many men lucky enough to love so long are called to the Torah in celebration of a long life and a second shot at the opportunity to have a special aliyah Reply

Anonymous October 26, 2009

2nd Bar Mitzvah Some people have the custom to make a 2nd Bar Mitzvah celebration at age 83, as they consider 70 years a complete generation. I have personally attended a few of these special occasions and each one was different but delightful. One man read the whole Torah portion, another recited justt the Haftara and another just had an aliya to the Torah and then a kiddush after services for his family, friends and community members. Reply

Anonymous October 25, 2009

Bar mitvahed I am more than a little surprised that you used bar mitvah as a verb. The man is a bar mitvah for the rest of his life. Nothing was done to him. He just woke up one day and found himself to be 13. Reply

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