It’s never too late to celebrate!

If you never had a bar mitzvah, it’s not too late. Bar mitzvah simply means “a man bound by the mitzvah,” and the celebration of becoming “a bar mitzvah” marks the day that a boy becomes obligated to do all the mitzvahs. On your thirteenth Jewish birthday, you reach adulthood according to Jewish law, and become responsible for your actions. Whether you were treated to an official ceremony and celebration or not, you automatically became a “bar mitzvah” at the age of thirteen.

This doesn’t mean that you can’t celebrate this special milestone later in life, if you haven’t had a chance before. On the contrary, the privilege of studying the Torah and performing the mitzvot is something to celebrate every day!1

There are no special requirements for an adult bar mitzvah. Each person is free to create a ceremony and celebration that is meaningful for him.

Some choose to model their celebration on a traditional bar mitzvah, and celebrate on the Shabbat closest to their birthday, when their “bar mitzvah Parshah” (the portion that was read on the week of their thirteenth birthday) is read. They can be called to the Torah, and some even learn to chant the portion themselves. This is a fine idea, but not at all obligatory.

Another bar mitzvah milestone is the mitzvah of tefillin. We begin wearing tefillin at age 13, and continue to do so every weekday. If someone lapsed in his observance of this special mitzvah and would like to rededicate himself to putting on tefillin on a consistent basis, he can also celebrate it as a sort of “re-bar mitzvah.” If you would like to arrange such a celebration, speak to your local Chabad rabbi about how you can go about it.

Whether celebrating your bar mitzvah at the age of 13 or at the age of 83, the underlying idea remains the same: Becoming a bar mitzvah is not so much about the ceremony; rather it is an inner, spiritual state of being. When you turned 13, you became a man, mature enough to observe the mitzvahs and continue the beautiful traditions which have been passed down through the generations since Sinai.


Mazal Tov!