Get to Know Bar Mitzvah Blessings ( + the Right Message for Bar Mitzvah Cards)

Blessings are a vital component of every Bar Mitzvah – close behind it is the blessing you leave in a card. Learn more about both.

Blessings are an important component of every Bar Mitzvah. In advance of the big day, it’s helpful to get acquainted with the different types of blessings and understand the meaning of each.

Understanding Common Bar Mitzvah Blessings

The Aliyah Blessing

In Hebrew, this blessing means “to ascend.” It’s a highlight of every Bar Mitzvah service. The Bar Mitzvah boy gives the aliyah when he is “called up” to the Torah. He recites the blessing before the Torah reading begins and at its conclusion (although sometimes the boy himself will be the Torah reader that day). This wonderful resource has everything you need to know for preparing to get the aliyah and the step-by-step process during the Bar Mitzvah. 

The Father’s Bar Mitzvah Blessing

Following his son’s aliyah, the father recites a blessing to thank G-d for absolving him of responsibility for his son’s decisions (although, of course, parents continue to raise and care for their beloved son even after his Bar Mitzvah!). The Father’s Blessing empowers the Bar Mitzvah boy by ensuring he understands that G-d sees him as a responsible young man. Here is more useful information about the Father’s Blessing. 

Blessing on the Tallit

In some synagogues, it is customary for the Bar Mitzvah boy to wear the prayer shawl called a tallit, and a specific prayer is recited when he puts it on. Here is more information, not only about this blessing, but also about inspecting and donning the tallit.

Blessings for Tefillin

Tefillin are the small black leather cubes containing parchment scrolls that are inscribed with the Shema and other biblical passages. They are wrapped on the arm and head of adult men during weekday morning prayers. Here is more information about blessings for tefillin. While the aliyah and reading from the Torah are the most well-known ways to mark a Bar Mitzvah, observing the mitzvah of Tefillin is the most significant way to mark a boy’s Bar Mitzvah and offers him the opportunity to continue observing this mitzvah far beyond his special day.

Bar Mitzvah Blessing on Challah Bread

Often, at the outset of the Bar Mitzvah reception, a family member is honored with reciting the blessing over bread, called hamotzi. Here’s more information about that blessing and about associated rituals. 

Blessing over Wine and Grape Juice

Because of their significance and how they are used, wine and grape juice have their own blessing, called borei pri hagafen. Here’s more about it.

The Shema Prayer

Shema (Hebrew: “hear”) is the Jewish statement of faith in one G-d. It comprises three scriptural texts from Deuteronomy and Numbers, which, together with appropriate prayers, forms an integral part of evening and morning services. This prayer is so significant that we have a Biblical commandment to recite the Shema twice daily, once in the morning and once at night. Learn more about it here.

What’s the Right Message for a Bar Mitzvah Card?

I’m sometimes asked what to say to a Bar Mitzvah boy in his card or in person on the big day. The answer is easy: “Mazal Tov!” or any variation of it will do just fine. Although “Mazal Tov” literally means “good luck” in Hebrew, in common usage it also conveys congratulations. (For more on the meaning of Mazel Tav, watch this video in which I explain it in depth.)

So, simply writing “Mazal Tov on your Bar Mitzvah!” in your card is fine. But you should feel free to personalize it. For example:

  • “Best wishes and Mazal Tov to you as you celebrate your bar mitzvah!”
  • “Congratulations and Mazal Tov on your Bar Mitzvah! We are so proud of you!”
  • “This day is incredibly meaningful, and you’ve worked so hard for it. Mazal Tov.”

If you want to go a little deeper, you can craft a message based on the many inspirational ideas shared our Bar Mitzvah Prep School. Here are three examples:

  • “Remember the history of your people that preceded you and imagine the history that will follow you. With blessings that you become a powerful link to the history of our people.”
  • “You aren’t being given car keys yet, but G-d has just infused you with your complete G-dly soul. That’s infinite power. You are powerful! We can’t wait to see how you’ll be harnessing this power.”
  • “The Jewish people have a long history of surviving against all obstacles. Our secret is our faith in G-d. Develop your faith in G-d and you will have the power to overcome anything.”

Of course, crafting a longer, more personal message highlighting one or more of the Bar Mitzvah boy’s outstanding attributes will make your message even more memorable. 

And if you are celebrating a special young man in your life… a heartfelt Mazal Tov to you and your family! If you want any further information or help while preparing, check out our bar mitzvah prep courses.


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