We enjoy seeing our youngsters become bar or bat mitzvah. A good deal of study, practice and preparation is required to be able to lead the service, chant the portion and interpret that portion. The event reflects a good amount of rote and conceptual learning. It is also an indicator of a commitment. We all kvell (rejoice) in the youngster’s accomplishments. It’s a joyous rite of passage.
In the early days of the bar mitzvah (no bat mitzvah then) the focal point of the the ceremony was when the father stated, “Blessed be He Who has taken from me the responsibility for this boy”. This can be interpreted as meaning the boy is now completely responsible for all requirements of an adult ritualistically. It can also mean that childhood is over and the young man is on his own in an often grim and dangerous world.
Let’s all rejoice in the fact that it is a beautiful rite of passage and our children remain our responsibility and source of pride and pleasure for a much longer time.