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Publisher's Foreword

The Significance of a Bar Mitzvah

Preparations for the Bar Mitzvah

Bar Mitzvah Customs


The Maamar

Sichos Kodesh

Reshimos of Bar Mitzvah

Letters From The Rebbe

The Bar Mitzvah of the Rebbeim


Yalkut Bar Mitzvah
An Anthology of Laws and Customs of a Bar Mitzvah in the Chabad Tradition

Chapter 8
Letters From The Rebbe

by Rabbi Nissan Dovid Dubov

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  Reshimos of Bar MitzvahThe Bar Mitzvah of the Rebbeim  

The Rebbe penned volumes of letters of his blessings to Bar Mitzvah celebrations. Every Bar Mitzvah boy that requested the Rebbe's blessing was sent a letter with a standard text, and the Rebbe often used to add an additional message in his handwriting or as a postscript. Of particular note were the many letters he addressed to war orphans of the Israeli Defense Forces whose fathers had fallen in battle, and for whom a public Bar Mitzvah was celebrated in Kfar Chabad.

Presented here is a brief selection of letters written by the Rebbe in English.

10 Kislev, 5740
Greetings and blessings,

In response to your informing me of your reaching the age of mitzvos,

May it be the will of Hashem that you should grow from the age of 13 for mitzvos to the age of 15 etc., as in the ruling of the Mishnah (Avos Ch. 5), and you should increase with great diligence your study of Torah, both Toras HaNigleh and Toras HaChassidus and you should keep the mitzvos in a beautiful manner, and Hashem should grant you success to be a Chassid, G-d fearing and a Lamdan.

With blessing

P. S. The following is written in English so that if you wish you may show it to your friends, in the spirit of the mitzvah of "Love your fellow as yourself", which if in all matters one needs to help another, how much more so in matters of Yiddishkeit, Torah and Mitzvos.

At first glance, it is strange that the day of the Bar Mitzvah, which is so important that the Zohar declares that for the Bar Mitzvah boy it is almost like the Day of Mattan Torah, when Jews first received the Torah and mitzvos, yet insofar as Tachanun is concerned, which is omitted even on the so-called "Minor Holidays," if the Bar Mitzvah does not occur on Shabbos or Yom Tov (or any other day that Tachanun is not said) - Tachanun is said by the Bar Mitzvah boy, as on any ordinary weekday.

One of the explanations is as follows:

When one considers that human capacities are limited in general, especially the capacities of a boy at the start of the fourteenth year, yet he still has to assume all the duties and responsibilities of a full-fledged Jew, and, moreover, fulfill them with joy, in keeping with the rule: Serve G-d with joy - the question begs itself: How is he going to carry out all that is expected of him? Especially, being a member of a people which is a small minority among the nations of the world; and even in this country, where one has every opportunity to carry out all religious duties, most people are more interested and engaged in the material aspects of life?

The answer is that the Torah and mitzvos have been given by G-d, the Creator of the world, and of man, and He knows all the difficulties that a Jew may encounter. G-d has surely provided every Jew with the necessary strength to overcome any and all difficulties to live up to His Will, for G-d would not expect someone to do something that is beyond his capacity.

If however, there should be a moment of weakness, when carrying out G-d's Will is not in the fullest measure of perfection, G-d in His infinite goodness, makes it possible to "say Tachanun" - to do teshuvah. Indeed, as the Alter Rebbe explains, teshuvah is basically for lack of perfection in avodas Hashem.

Therefore, on the first day of becoming a full-fledged Jew, and after fulfilling the very first mitzvah, namely, Shema, by which a Jew declares his total commitment to G-d and obedience to all His commandments, the Bar Mitzvah boy does say Tachanun the following morning and afternoon (provided it is not Shabbos or Yom Tov, etc.), for the essence of Tachanun is teshuvah, and there is the assurance that "Nothing stands in the way of teshuvah."

This knowledge will, moreover, also stand him in good stead when he will involve himself in the great mitzvah of v'ohavto lre'acho komoicho, to bring the alienated closer to Yiddishkeit. For remembering the rule that "nothing stands in the way of teshuvah," he will eagerly and compassionately apply it to them, especially as, with most cases, the failure to observe fully the Torah and mitzvos is due to extenuating circumstances.

With all the above in mind, and being fortunate in growing up in a family where Yiddishkeit is a living experience in the everyday life, you will start out on your life as a full-fledged Jew with confidence, and will proceed from strength to strength, and be a source of true pride and joy to your dear parents and family, and to all our Jewish people.

By the Grace of G-d
6 Teves, 5719
Brooklyn, N. Y.

Greetings and blessings:

I was pleased to receive your letter informing me of your forthcoming celebration on the 16th of Teves.

I send you my blessing that you should grow up into a fine Jew, which means one who lives his life in accordance with our holy Torah, observing the mitzvos. This road is full of light, but it should be further illuminated by the teachings of Chassidism, which reveal the richness and abundance of the light of our faith, our Torah and mitzvos.

Bar-Mitzvah is a festival, marking the time when a Jewish boy becomes a fully qualified member of our holy nation. It is a great and important day for him. Yet it is not like the other festivals, when either no work is permitted at all, or, if it is, then in a smaller measure. On the day of Bar Mitzvah (if it does not occur on Shabbos) work is permitted, and Tachanun is said in prayer.

There is a lesson in this for the Bar Mitzvah boy; that although the Bar Mitzvah is a great and joyful event, it also places upon him all the duties, responsibilities and privileges that belong to a fully qualified Jew. Such an event cannot be celebrated by a stoppage of work. On the contrary, it calls for increased efforts immediately, showing that the Bar Mitzvah boy has become an active member of our people, according to the requirements of our holy Torah.

But in the course of work, especially in the beginning, it is possible to make mistakes without knowing about them. That is why the Bar Mitzvah says Tachanun on this day, even though it is his festival. For Tachanun is a confession of the mistakes which he may have made, and a prayer for forgiveness, together with a resolution never to repeat them again. It is a resolution to be better, purer and holier, that is, to be worthier of the name "Jew" in the fullest sense of the word.

I will be glad to receive a letter from you about your progress in studies and I wish you much success in them. With the blessing of Mazal tov to you and all the family.


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