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From the Archive /
Bar and Bat Mitzvah
That my father told me - Zimmerman

David Zimmeman

Mishmar Hasharon


Recorded by Beeri, his son

As regards the Jewish boy in the small town in the Diaspora the Bar Mitzvah period brought about a change in his life. He started to be considered as an adult for all intents and purpose and he was one of the ten people required for the Minyan (quorum), he was called up to the Torah, not only to the Maftir, which was permitted for any child, but also to one of the seven portions of the Torah permitted only for adults, and he was also added as the third person in the Grace After Meals prayer.

A long time before the Bar Mitzvah celebration the rabbi gave my father the subject for his homily on the subject of “commandments require intent”. My father was required to develop the subject by reading the Gemara and searching for commentaries. He found a contradiction between the various commentators and found a pretext for the contradiction. This matter was called in my father’s time as “simple”, that is to say a simple explanation.

On the day of the Bar Mitzvah my father was called up to the Torah in the synagogue and not for Maftir, but rather for the second portion of the Torah reading, designated for Levites (we belong to the Levite sect).

Thereafter all the congregation from the synagogue and our family members came to father’s home for a Kiddush (blessing on the wine). After they ate and raised a toast they lifted my father on a stool and he recounted his homily, firstly hesitating and in a low voice and then with more confidence while waving his arms around as is customary.

The greatest change came several days later when by father was sent to study in Yeshiva outside of the family town. He would come home for a visit only twice a year – when he finished the times of staying in that foreign place and the studies in Yeshiva this symbolized the start of his adulthood.

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