Mazel Tov to Tonni Schmuckler on winning the Bat Mitzvah Essay Contest! Read and comment on her winning essay below!
Celebration or Delegation?
by Tonni Schmuckler, age 14, from Montreal
A graduation celebrates a completion of studies and freedom of tests and homework. A birthday celebrates another year of life. A Bat Mitzvah celebrates a Jewish girl’s newfound responsibility to Torah and Mitzvot. If you think of it, the oddest celebration in a Jewish girl’s life is her Bat Mitzvah. And yet, it’s the most celebrated. Why someone would want to be Bat Mitzvah puzzles many people.
Before a girl’s twelfth birthday, she is not held accountable for anything. Any Mitzvot she does are under the category of Chinuch (education) and are merits, not obligations. Once she enters the coveted category of Bat Mitzvah, everything changes since she is now obligated to fulfill G-d’s commandments. Which is why a Bat Mitzvah celebration may seem so odd.
So why celebrate? Why celebrate responsibility and obligation? Life is much easier without it. Why pay for something when you’ve been getting it for free?
The answer is simple: The Torah is not an obligation. One may look at it like one, but it’s far from it. G-d’s Torah is more that just a rulebook, it’s the map of life. Life is full of twists and turns, so the gift of the “GPS of life” is not only useful for a girl on the brink of adulthood; it’s downright appropriate.
Not only is the Torah a guidebook, it’s the blueprint of the world. It’s also G-d’s birthday present to each and every Jewish girl. The Creator of The World entrusts the Bat Mitzvah with His most precious object, the Torah. He trusts her! The gift and His trust are definitely worth a celebration.
Unlike your average birthday present, the Torah is the gift that keeps giving. When a Jew takes on the Mitzvot, he takes on peace of mind as well. The knowledge that by following the Torah he can’t go wrong is comforting and helpful in the frenzy of today’s turbulent society.
Besides, becoming a Bat Mitzvah is like joining a club. It’s joining a group of people who follow G-d’s commandments and have a purpose. Up until now, you’ve been a bystander. As of your twelfth birthday, you are a full-fledged member. So a Bat Mitzvah is not only a celebration of G-d’s trust and gift, it’s your inauguration to a people whose purpose is to spread light. In a way, it’s your own personal Matan Torah (receiving of the Torah).
A Bat Mitzvah is not something celebrated on just your twelfth birthday; it’s something you celebrate constantly. Two years ago I celebrated my Bat Mitzvah, and I’m still celebrating today. Happy Bat Mitzvah! Welcome to the club!