To Donate Click Here

Mitzvah Mature

Rabbi Yehoshua Alt

To purchase any of the author’s books (hardcopy or e-book) and get it delivered to your door, please send an email to [email protected] or visit (where you can also see the reviews).

To join the thousands of recipients and receive these insights free on a weekly email, obtain previous articles, feedback, comments, suggestions (on how to spread the insights of this publication further, make it more appealing or anything else), to sponsor this publication which has been in six continents and more than forty countries, or if you know anyone who is interested in receiving these insights weekly, please contact the author, Rabbi Yehoshua Alt, at [email protected]. Thank you.

לעילוי נשמת שמואל אביגדור בן יצחק מאיר

These Torah articles can also be viewed in French and Hebrew atהורדות-עלונים.


Please send your feedback to [email protected].

Rabbi Alt merited to learn under the tutelage of R’ Mordechai Friedlander ztz”l for close to five years. He received Semicha from R’ Zalman Nechemia Goldberg ztz”l. Rabbi Alt has written on numerous topics for various websites and publications and is the author of the books, Fascinating Insights and Incredible Insights. His writings inspire people across the spectrum of Jewish observance to live with the vibrancy and beauty of Torah. He lives with his wife and family in a suburb of Yerushalayim where he studies, writes, and teaches. The author is passionate about teaching Jews of all levels of observance.

Listen to the short Fascinating Insights podcast at, where it can also be downloaded!

Please feel free to print some copies of this publication and distribute them in your local shul for the public, thereby having a hand in spreading Torah.

Mitzvah Mature

The Aramaic word בר or Hebrew equivalent בן denotes inclusion into a specified group. A בן עולם הבא,[1] member (literally: son) of the next world, refers to one whose focus and identity are tied up with the eternal life. בר מצוה connotes one who is subject to the commandments.[2]


Why is the term בר מצוה (or בת מצוה for a girl) used in contrast to the term we use for one who sins, a בעל עבירה? A son (or daughter) is an absolute unbreakable bond because no matter what he or she does they still remain a son or daughter. This is different concerning a husband (בעל) and wife where there is the option of divorce. It is breakable.  Similarly, a person that commits a sin can still sever himself from it by refraining from committing the act. It is not intrinsic to him. In contrast, one who doesn’t even perform a mitzvah for a while is still bonded to it. It is inherent in him.


What is the difference between a קטן and a גדול (one who is bar mitzvah and one who isn’t)?[3] גדול means someone who is able to combine all his actions into one unified perspective. Indeed, the root of גדול is אגד, to bind. He is no longer a קטן, minor, whose inconsistent actions are disconnected. קטן relates to קטטה, cutting or discord, as he has a disconnected perception.


When does a boy become bar mitzvah? There is a machlokes if a boy becomes bar mitzvah at the beginning of the day he was born 13 years later or if he becomes bar mitzvah only exactly 13 years later to the minute he was born.[4] R’ Sternbuch[5] writes that the Brisker Rav woke up his son who was born at 3 in the morning on the night of his bar mitzvah (Amud Hashachar was 3:30). The Brisker Rav stayed up all night in order to wake up his son in order that he recite Birchas Hatorah, the Krias Shema of nighttime and Zechiras Yetzias Mitzrayim. This is because that which the boy said before he went to sleep wouldn’t help according to the opinion that the boy becomes bar mitzvah exactly 13 years later to the minute.

[1] See Megilah 28b.

[2] Baba Metzia 96a.

[3] A regular bar mitzvah speech is where the bar mitzvah boy practices a speech that was written for him beforehand and he says it at the bar mitzvah reception. Then there is a novel way (which is also a way of teaching in general), the way in which R’ Dovid Forman’s bar mitzvah speech was. His Rebbi told him to learn his bar mitzvah parsha, which was Parshas Noach, and ask two of his best questions he had on the parsha. He went to his Rebbi with the questions, to which his Rebbi gave him answers. This is how his bar mitzvah speech was formulated. The speech was therefore a part of him.

[4] See the Rema, Orach Chaim, 53:10 with Magen Avraham 53:13, Mishneh L’melech in Ishus, chapter 2, Chassam Sofer, Yoreh Deah, 343, Sheiltos at the end of Bechukosai, Shach in Choshen Mishpat, 35 and the Maharsham, 3:121.

[5] Moadim U’zemanim, siman 288, footnote.

Author of Three Books

Listen to the short Fascinating Insights Podcast at

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *