Putting on tefillin for the first time

1. A boy begins putting on tefillin two months before his Bar Mitzvah; at first without the berachah, then, a few weeks later with the berachah. This is a directive for all.1

2. The custom is not to recite the blessing “Shehechiyanu” when putting on the tefillin the first time.2

3. Both tefillin of Rashi and Rabbeinu Tam are put on two months before the Bar Mitzvah.3

4. The tefillin should be worn for the entire duration of the prayers.4

5. Some have the custom for the father or teacher to help the boy lay the tefillin for the first time, and make sure that the tefillin are positioned correctly. Thereafter, the boy should be supervised to make sure he is laying them correctly.5

6. If there is a Chol HaMoed within these two months, the starting date should be two months and a week before the Bar Mitzvah.6

The Day of the Bar Mitzvah

1. There should be simchah on the day of the Bar Mitzvah comparable to that of a wedding.7 However Tachanun is recited.8

2. It is right and proper that the Bar Mitzvah boy should give of his own money to tzedakah on the day of his Bar Mitzvah, in the morning before Shacharis, and before Minchah.9 The tzedakah should preferably be given to an institution involved with Chinuch.10 If the Bar Mitzvah day falls on Shabbos he should give the tzedakah on the Friday before and on the Sunday after the Bar Mitzvah. His parents should do likewise.11

3. On the day of the Bar Mitzvah after Shacharis, the congregants gather together, and the father of the Bar Mitzvah boy speaks briefly in honor of the simchah. Afterwards, the Bar Mitzvah boy recites the Maamar, after which cake and Mashke are offered to those assembled.12

4. The custom is for the Bar Mitzvah boy to recite the Maamar “Issa B’Midrash Tehillim which was the Maamar recited by the Rebbe Rashab on his Bar Mitzvah in the year 5653.13

5. During the day, the Bar Mitzvah boy should learn the 14th chapter in Tehillim.14

6. The meal celebrating the Bar Mitzvah is held in the evening.15 It is customary for the Bar Mitzvah boy to repeat the Maamar at the meal, in addition to16 saying Divrei Torah — as is the custom in all communities.17

In a letter,18 the Rebbe expressed his satisfaction on being informed that the Bar Mitzvah boy had said a Derashah based on Likkutei Sichos, and the Rebbe praised the clarity and style in which it was written — in a way that all would understand.

7. One should not interrupt the Bar Mitzvah boy in the middle of his Dvar Torah (by singing etc.) However, in communities where it is the custom to interrupt the Dvar Torah, one should do so in the following way; first the Dvar Torah should be said through from beginning to end. Then the Dvar Torah should be repeated and it is during the repetition that he may be interrupted.19

8. The Bar Mitzvah meal is considered a seudas mitzvah, and at the meal it is proper for the parents to give thanks and praise to Hashem for giving them the merit to raise a child to Bar Mitzvah and to educate him in the ways of Torah and mitzvos.20

9. Those present at the meal should bless the Bar Mitzvah boy in all he requires both materially and spiritually.21 They express the wish that the Bar Mitzvah boy should grow to be a chassid, Yerai Shomayim G‑d fearing, and a lamdan — a “chayal.22 This blessing should be given in the spirit of the well-known saying of the Rebbeim that a chassidisher farbrengen can achieve what even the Archangel Michoel cannot achieve.23 Those attending the Bar Mitzvah should also actively participate in the simchah by saying divrei Torah of their own.24

10. Many have the custom of reading a letter from the Rebbe written in honor of a Bar Mitzvah.25

11. Some have the custom of honoring the Bar Mitzvah boy by having him lead the Benching.26

12. One does not recite the blessing Shehechiyanu on the occasion of the Bar Mitzvah.27

13. It is customary for the Bar Mitzvah boy and his parents to wear Shabbos clothes on the day of the Bar Mitzvah.28

14. According to the letter of the law it is not necessary that a Bar Mitzvah boy do teshuvah for those sins committed before Bar Mitzvah age, however it is proper for a boy to accept upon himself some form of Teshuvah for sins committed in his youth.29

The Aliyah

1. An effort should be made to arrange for the Bar Mitzvah boy’s first Aliyah to be on a Monday or Thursday morning or on Shabbos during Minchah.30

2. G‑d’s name should not be mentioned when the blessing Boruch Shepatorani31 is recited.32 This blessing is not only recited on Shabbos, but can be made on Mondays, Thursdays and Rosh Chodesh as well.