What are the earliest explicit sources that reference a celebration upon becoming a bar mitsvah, and indicate that this celebration has some halakhic significance?

The Yam Shel Shelomo to Bava Kamma (7:37) references such an Ashkenazi practice, and seems to indicate that it has halakhic significance, but are there earlier explicit sources for this, (specifically from the Rishonim)?

וסעודת בר מצוה שעושים האשכנזים, לכאורה אין לך סעודת מצוה גדולה מזו, ושמה יוכיח עליה. ועושים שמחה, ונותנים למקום שבח והודיה, שזכה הנער להיות בר מצוה, וגדול המצוה ועושה, והאב זכה שגדלו עד עתה, להכניסו בברית התורה בכללה. וראיה להדיא ספ"ק דקדושין (ל"א ע"א) שאמר רב יוסף לבסוף, השתא דאמר ר' חנינא גדול המצוה ועושה כו', מאן דאמר לי שאין הלכה כר' יהודא, דאמר סומא פטור מן המצות, עבידנא יומא טבא לרבנן

An earlier source which references the practice of a bar mitzvah party is the Zohar (quoted by R. Qafih in Ketavim, vol. 3 p. 1427), but that does not indicate that it has halakhic significance.

So, the goal would be to find references to the practice itself from the 13th century or earlier, and more importantly, references to its halakhic significance from the 15th century or earlier.


2 Answers 2


Shu"t Bnei Banim (siman 17) writes:

The mekor for making a seudas bar mitzvah is learned from bereishis rabba on the pasuk
"ויגדל הילד ויגמל ויעש אברהם משתה גדול ביום הגמל את יצחק", R' Hoshiya Rabbah said, he was weaned from his evil inclination. The mefarshim explain that "ויגדל הילד" means he reached 13 years of age, thus the pasuk is explained thus: "And the boy grew (meaning he reached 13 years of age), and was weaned (of his evil inclination), and Avraham made a great feast (since Yitzchak was weaned from his evil inclination)".

(credit: Double AA)


This article (footnote 33) quotes R. Avigdor Ha-Tzarfati (13th century Vienna) in his Perushim Upesakim al haTorah leRabeinu Avigdor Tzarfati saying the following:

לעשות משתה לבנו ביום שהוא בן י"ג שנים.

And also this site brings up another quotation in his name (among other sources):

בבראשית רבה איתא שביום י”ג שנה של בניו עמד יצחק ויברך ברוך אתה ה’ אלקינו מלך העולם אשר פטרני מעונשו של זה. וכן הפסק שמצוה לברך על בנו כשהוא בן י”ג שנה ויום אחד אותו ברכה, ועומד וקורא בתורה, וצריך לעמוד על בנו לשום ידו על ראשו, ומברך ברכה זאת כדפי’ .וכן נהגו הצרפתים

In Bereshit Rabba it says that on the day when his son was 13 Isaac stood up and recited ‘Blessed are you, Lord our God, King of the Universe, who has redeemed me from punishment because of him.’ And this is the ruling: it is a duty to recite this blessing over one’s son when he is 13 years and one day old, when he stands up to read from the Torah, and one needs to stand over one’s son to place one’s hand on his head, and to recite the blessing as expressed here. And this is the French custom.

  • Side point - it sounds like he's saying you should say two separate brachos for a bar mitzvah of twins. Otherwise Yitzchak would have said מענשיהם של אלו.
    – Heshy
    Mar 27, 2018 at 20:33

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .