My daughter will be Bat Mitzvah'ed this coming year. We have begun reviewing the Torah reading for the week of her Bat Mitzvah to find a message she can talk about, it is Tzav (Leviticus 6:1-8:36), and we are having some difficulty relating its passages to our lives and understanding what it means. Can you help?


This section of the Torah is a most appropriate section for a bar or bat mitzvah. The Torah is discussing the inauguration of Aaron and his children into the priesthood after the construction of the Tabernacle, when they were endowed with a special holiness and empowered to serve G‑d in the Temple on behalf of all the Jewish people. The inauguration ceremony consisted of the priests being dressed in special priestly garments, and being anointed with a fragrant oil which was produced by Moses using a special formula prescribed by G‑d.

This is precisely what a bar or bat mitzvah represents: a young adult taking on a new role and responsibility in his/her devotion to our Torah and our people.

Unlike the common misconception that a bar or bat mitzvah signifies an end, or the graduation upon the successful completion of a bar or bat mitzvah lesson regimen, in truth it symbolizes a new beginning for the young man or woman, the inauguration into a new level of devotion and dedication to our people. Like the priests, they are imbued with a new level of holiness, which will give them special powers to complete their important mission on behalf of the Jewish people.

Both a bar and bat mitzvah are very similar in this regard. However, the connection to the aforementioned Torah section is in a way more apropos for a bat mitzvah. The role of a male is more outside the home whereas the primary role of the woman is to imbue her home with holiness, which spreads from there to the outside. (See a wonderful article, I Am Woman, for more on this topic.) The priests, as well, functioned in the Holy Temple, imbuing it with a holiness that shined forth from Zion to the rest of the world.

From the aforementioned it is also obvious that a bar or bat mitzvah celebration is much more than frivolous partying and fun-like activities. Rather the event is a solemn — albeit joyous — occasion meant to symbolize a young adult's commitment to devote his or her life to holiness and spirituality. This should be taken into consideration when planning this special event, with care taken that the atmosphere should reflect this concept.

You also might be interested in reading the following article: Why can't my daughter have a real bat mitzvah?

Click here for more insights on the Torah reading of Tzav.

Click here for more about bar and bat mitzvah.

Wishing you abundant Jewish nachas,

Chana Weisberg for