Bar/Bat-Mitzvah Study Units

by: Moshe Drelich & Naphtali Harcztark

1. CHANGE — (Physical, emotional, intellectual, social, etc.)
A. Students are to bring in pictures of a parent at different stages of life, from infancy, adolescents, adulthood, etc. (Family portraits can also be used).
B. Students will discuss the pictures and the different responsibilities associated with the pictures.
C. Students will be asked to organize their own time line of development, including not only past and present but also future development and accomplishments.
D. The book or video THE GIVING TREE will be shown or read and used to discuss the universal stages in a person’s life.
E. Mishna in Avot 3:1 will be learned to show the Torah’s appreciation of this development and how we can utilize it in our daily service to Hashem as Bnei Torah
2. LUCKY 13, OR IS IT 12?
A. On a piece of paper students will be asked to define the following terms and then give the antonym of the definition. Terms such as, mature, adult, responsibility, etc.
B. Students will discuss their answers and a collective definition will be determined.
C. Discuss what is the Torah’s requirements are for becoming a bar/bat-mitzvah? (Chronological & physical maturity)
D. What is the difference between rights and obligations? Is there a contradiction between independence and obligation? (kibud av’em – when does it end?)
E. What new obligations and rights come with becoming a bar/bat-mitzvah? How are they similar and different for boys and girls?
F. Gemera Gittin 64a — Business transactions of movable (age 13) and non- movable items (age 20)
G. Explain the blessing of baruch sheptarani and its significance to the child.
H. Parshat Nitzavim 30:19 — free choice
I. Mishna Avot 5:21 — how to prepare for the free choice.
A. Video Valerie family-Taking responsibility for your own actions
B. Hilchot Tshuva – Difference between atonement between man & G-d and between man & man.
C. Rambam Hilchot Mechira laws of selling chapter 7 laws’ 8-15 — Keeping your word.
D. Devorim 23:29 — Honoring and keeping your word.
E. Avot – Compare the meaning between Keser kehuna, malchut, Torah and shem tov.
F. Devarim chapter 24:16 (individual responsibility) 22:8 (protective fence)
A. Students will be asked to compile two lists of rights and obligations that are granted between the ages of 12 through 21 in our secular society and a Torah society. (driving, army service, voting, census, judicial punishment, taxes, etc.)
B. Bamidbar 1:3 — Study of the Ramban (Also study the age service requirement of the leviim from 25 to 30, 30 to 50. Also study Laws of valuation-Vayikra 27:1-7
C. What is community responsibility?(Bamidbar 14:29)
D. Students will be giving a list of committees (usually found in their synagogue or community)and to research: a. Their functions, b. Their impact in their community, c. How the community would be affected if this committee did not exist? d. Who makes up these committees? e. Who directs and guides these committees?
A. Lot versus Avraham – How to react to similar situations (compare in Bereishat chapter 18:2-7 & 19:1-3)
B. Social dramas-Students will be asked to perform and solve different moral and ethical dilemmas
C. Study texts Devarim chapter 22:1-4, (returning lost property, aiding someone in need)
Chapter 24: 10-15 (dignity of a debtor, timely payment of workers)
D. What professions lend themselves to chesed and kindness.
E. Discuss the 3 character traits of a Jew and what do they mean in everyday life?
F. Video – THE INCIDENT (do not stand idly by)
G.Devarim 6:18 (do the decent thing)
A. Minyan song from the Variations album (need for togetherness)
B. Study different people or organizations that impact on the lives of others throughout our community, country and the world. (Hatzala, Hebrew free loan, Hebrew free burial, Jewish guild for the blind, Yad Sarah, Rabbanit Bracha Kapach, Tomchei Shabbat-“Tell me a Mitzvah” by Danny Seigel)
C. A field trip to one of these organizations will be arranged to understand: a. What are their goals? b. How do they accomplish their objectives? c. Why is their work so important?
D. Or to arrange a field trip to a Chassidic community to bridge differences in culture and cultivate a sensitivity and better understanding of our Chassidic brothers and sisters.
A. The purpose of Adam and Noach. (Universal individual)
B. The study of Alenu-“to fix the world”
C. The code of Jewish law and its purpose about our relationship with the rest of the world.
A. Privacy
a. Behavior-Devarim 25:11& 12
b. Speech – Loshan Harah Mesichta Shabbat 24
c. Dress-Hilchot Tznius
d. Self- esteem, self confidance
B. Last posuk in haftorah of Balak
C. Shaarei Tshuva – 3rd Gate paragraph 49 (pg 176)
1. Begin the session by having students reflect on the different “types” (ultra 0rthodox, chasidish, conservative, reform, non- observant, etc.) of Jewish people they know or have come in contact with during their lives. (Relatives, friends, etc.)
2. Have students compile a list on the worksheet. The purpose of the worksheet is to define things that they have in common ( belief in one G-d, Israel, etc.) and things they don’t have in common ( Driving on Shabbat, different mode of dress, kashhrut standards, etc.) with their other Jewish brothers and sisters.
3. Review the list with the students.
4. After reviewing the lists, start by focusing on the common list. What can we apply or adapt from their conduct to our daily lives. The purpose of this is to heighten their sensitivity and awareness to the differences and what can be learned from it.
5. Then review the not-in common list. What should we reject and if faced with a friendship or relationship with this person, how do we reject their way and still maintain a level of mutual respect. Use chapter 32 from Tanya to show different ways of reproaching different types of people.
6. Read story of Aryeh Levin form the Maggids Journeys.
7. Variations song about minyan.
Have students compile a list on the worksheet. The purpose of the worksheet is to define things that they have in common (belief in one G-d, Israel, etc.) and things they don’t have in common (Driving on Shabbat, different mode of dress, kashhrut standards, etc.) with their other Jewish brothers and sisters.

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