Project Genesis

Father’s Blessing at a Bar Mitzvah

Question: Why does the father say a blessing when his son becomes Bar Mitzvah?

Answer: You are correct. When a boy becomes Bar Mitzvah, the father recites a blessing: “Baruch Sh’petarani M’onsho Shel Zeh” “Blessed (is the One) that exempted me from the punishment of this (son)”.

Jewish tradition maintains that a person is not responsible for his/her actions until they reach the age of maturity, which is 13 for a man, and 12 for a woman. Before that point, the parents, who guide, teach and raise the child, are held “responsible”—to some extent—for the actions of their children.

Once a boy becomes Bar Mitzvah, his parents no longer bear the responsibility for the actions of their son. This blessing is an expression of that transition. Of course, a parent is thrilled that their child has reached an age of maturity, but there is a certain relief that comes along with that joy, as they are longer completely responsible for the actions of their child; that relief is expressed in this blessing.

Be well,
Rabbi Yoel Spotts

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