Duty & Memebership
Rabbi Shmuel Avidor Hacohen
For the children celebrating their Bar Mitzvah – it is appropriate that they pay heed to the significance of this term “Bar Mitzvah”. I will not tarry on the “bar” part (ability to do something) although unfortunately there are many Bar Mitzvah celebrations where the “bar” part is the only part that remains (food and drink) while from the Mitzvah (commandment) part nothing remains.
This time I would like to emphasize the structure of the word “commandment”. When we say Bar Mitzvah it is like saying having knowledge or having the ability or being the best, a boy or a girl belong from this point onwards to the framework of the commandment – you can give them an instruction, an order, impose responsibility on them.
It is impossible to impose commandments on one who does not have any knowledge, intelligence and understanding. It is very difficult to say to a baby: be quiet, don’t cry now, because Daddy and Mummy must rest after a hard day at work! Only one who has reached a measure of intelligence, a certain measure of understanding, is one who has the knowledge and has the ability to accept an order while understanding the essence of the order.
And the more knowledgeable a man is, the more he can accept the duty imposed on him with understanding and even with a certain joy.
Only one who really has knowledge, understands that “It is good for a man to carry the burden in his youth”.
The escape from duty, from responsibility, from bearing the burden, from the mission, is signs of childhood, as defined by the Sages: “like a baby escaping from school”. While understanding the duty and the feelings of responsibility are the first signs of maturity, thus when we celebrate the Bar Mitzvah of the son, or the Bat Mitzvah of the daughter, we express our joy and satisfaction of the fact that our children achieved a measure of knowledge or acceptance of the burden and the duty.
And if we say Bar Mitzvah, it is as if we have said “a team”, appropriate and suitable for friendship, and this is particularly important in a society such as ours, built and attributed in entirety to friendship and whereby genuine and real friendship brings it alive.
This house – placed in its foundation stone the commandment of friendship.
This commandment, which was adhered to by the founders and continued by the following generations, constitutes the focus of our current existence, of our beautiful times, and it is from now on also the duty of those same girls and boys who today are Bar and Bat Mitzvah.
And it shall be said openly: this friendship is not reduced only within the framework of the kibbutz, but rather it is expressed tangibly and decisively. For the Bar Mitzvah girls and boys it is their duty and it is necessary that they adhere to their connections with Israel, with the Jewish tradition, with the values of the nation.