For the week ending 20 September 2008 / 20 Elul 5768

Premature Bar Mitzvah

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
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Question: A young new immigrant was only twelve years old when a Bar Mitzvah was made for him upon the insistence of his grandmother that he was already thirteen. A few months later the mistake was discovered and the question arose as to whether he should continue putting on tefillin and whether a second Bar Mitzvah should be made when he does reach the age of thirteen. What is the right thing to do?

Answer: This question was dealt with by Rabbi Yitzchak Zilberstein, rav of the Ramat Elchanan community in Bnei Brak, in his first volume of "Borchi Nafshi".

His ruling was that the youngster should not stop putting on tefillin once he has started, especially since some have the custom of starting the fulfillment of the mitzvah of tefillin a year before Bar Mitzvah.

As regards a second Bar Mitzvah there definitely should be a party for the youngster when he becomes thirteen. That is the age when it is no longer the responsibility of the father to provide the chinuch training for mitzvah fulfillment and the privilege of responsibility becomes that of the Bar Mitzvah boy – a real cause for celebration.

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