In the months before the Bar Mitzvah

1. Just as in the physical sense tefillin are put on two months before the Bar Mitzvah to allow the boy to learn to perform the mitzvah properly, so too in the spiritual sense there must be a period of preparation. It is therefore correct that the Bar Mitzvah boy should learn the laws of tefillin, including the meditation before donning the tefillin.1

To quote from the Alter Rebbe’s Siddur:2

“When one puts on tefillin, he should bear in mind that the Holy One, blessed be He, commanded us to write on the parchment contained in the tefillin the four specific Biblical passages that mention His Unity and the Exodus from Egypt, in order that we remember the miracles and wonders He performed for us. They indicate His Unity and demonstrate that He has the power and dominion over those above and below to do with them as He wishes. And He has enjoined us to place the tefillin on the arm adjacent to the heart, and on the head over the brain so that we submit our soul, which has its seat in the brain, as well as the desires and thoughts of our heart, to His service. Thus, by putting on the tefillin, one will be mindful of the Creator and restrict his pleasures.”

One should also reflect on the following words of the Alter Rebbe in Tanya, ch. 41: “Specifically, in the case of the tefillin, (he should intend) that the attributes of wisdom and understanding which are in his divine soul may be nullified and absorbed into the attributes of wisdom and understanding of the blessed Ein Sof, which are clothed in particular, in the chapters of Shema and Vehayah Ki Yeviacha. That is to say, that he should use his wisdom and understanding that are in his soul, only for G‑d alone.”

These ideas should be engraved upon the mind and will definitely produce and positively influence good conduct and mitzvah performance.

2. The Rebbe often instructed boys to learn the beginning of Ch. 41 in Tanya as a preparation for the Bar Mitzvah.3 In general the Rebbe encouraged the learning of Tanya at this age,4 and the learning of chassidus in general, both the weekly parshah in Likkutei Torah and Torah Or5 and the easier maamarim in chassidus.6

3. In addition to reciting the Book of Tehillim as it is divided according to the days of the month, one’s own chapter of Tehillim should be recited, and before the Bar Mitzvah it is important that Ch. 13 be recited daily. One should also give — bli neder — a few coins to tzedakah before prayers.7

4. Before the Bar Mitzvah, the boy should be fluent in, and have memorized, a number of chapters of Tehillim, Mishnah and Tanya, and he should review them from time to time.8


1. It was always the custom in Lubavitch for a father to bring his son to the Rebbe for Yechidus so that he receive the Rebbe’s blessing for the Bar Mitzvah.9 In more recent years, groups of Bar Mitzvah boys would enter into Yechidus together with their parents. If at all possible, one should visit the Ohel before the Bar Mitzvah. The Rebbe instructed certain Bar Mitzvah boys to recite the Bar Mitzvah maamar by the Ohel (in its entirety or at least in part.)10

Arrangements for the Simchah

1. The Bar Mitzvah meal should be scheduled for the day of the Bar Mitzvah itself.11 At least ten people should be present and the Bar Mitzvah boy should say divrei Torah, both nigleh and chassidus.12

If for whatever reason it is inconvenient to make the simchah on the day itself, and one wishes to make a large simchah on a later date with the participation of more people — then one may do so. However, a small simchah with at least ten people present should be made on the day of the Bar Mitzvah itself, to mark the actual Bar Mitzvah day.13

The simchah should not be made before the actual date of the Bar Mitzvah.14 See footnote.15

2. One should not squander money in making an extravagant Bar Mitzvah; rather it should be a chassidisher gathering, the effect of which will continue for weeks and months afterwards. Such a gathering will have the effect of increasing the Divine assistance granted to the Bar Mitzvah boy, who was the object of the simchah.16

The Bar Mitzvah should be used as the opportunity and occasion to draw people’s hearts nearer to Yiddishkeit.17

Reading the Sedrah

It is far better that the Bar Mitzvah boy should spend the months of preparation for his Bar Mitzvah learning Halachah that is needed on a day-to-day basis, than to spend a large amount of time learning to read his Sedrah.18