Early Bar Mitzvah

January 16, 2016 | by Rabbi Pinchas Waldman

My son will be turning 13 God willing this winter in mid-December. Having spoken to several of our relatives, it will be much better for everyone if we would schedule his Bar Mitzvah for Thanksgiving weekend – about two weeks before his birthday. Is it alright to celebrate a Bar Mitzvah a little bit in advance?

The Aish Rabbi Replies

Before all, Mazal Tov on the upcoming event! May you son grow to be a source of joy and pride for you, his entire family, and all Israel.

There are generally two parts to a Bar Mitzvah. The first is the synagogue service, where the Bar Mitzvah boy is called to the Torah to recite the blessings and chant parts of the reading before the congregation. The second is the celebration – the festive meal served to family and friends, generally accompanied with speeches and music.

In terms of when to stage the two events, the celebration should preferably be held on the boy’s (Hebrew) birthday itself, which is the actual occasion being marked. If that is difficult, it can be celebrated earlier or later, but should be relatively close. (Two weeks is in reasonable range; I would consider a month the absolute maximum.) If the celebration is held on a date other than the boy’s birthday, there should be speeches containing Torah thoughts in them so that the event is considered a “celebration of mitzvah.”

In terms of reading the Torah, that may only be done when a boy has fully reached 13 years (Mishna Berurah 282:12-13). Thus, although you may have the party a bit early, the Bar Mitzvah ceremony itself will have to be held later – typically on the first Shabbat after his birthday.

See here for our main article on the Bar Mitzvah celebration.

Mazal tov again!

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