After the #ReimagineBnaiMitzvah chat, what emerged for me most strongly were not answers but questions. People tweeted a lot of questions: how can we encourage students to take ownership of their own b’nai Lit. Commandment. It is traditionally held that there are 613 mitzvot (plural) in Judaism, both postive commandments (mandating actions) and negative commandments (prohibiting actions). Mitzvah has also become colloquially assumed to mean the idea of a “good deed." journey? Is there a way to do b’nai mitzvah which doesn’t reinforce binary notions of gender? How can we tend to the unique soul of every child, regardless of where they are on the spectrum of gender and sexuality? Is there a core body of material which we expect our b’nai mitzvah students to master? What kind of role does (or should) social justice play in their learning?
These prayers arose in response to the chat. I hope that they will speak to our b’nai mitzvah students, to those who are entrusted with their care—and also to people in “traditional” congregational contexts, and people whose Jewish lives unfold outside of congregational walls.
Before the formal celebration: Prayers before tying A set of fringes tied and knotted on each of the four corners of a tallit, symbolizing and reminding the user of God's commandments. Some Jews wear tzizit under their clothes at all times, with the fringes visible.
Vayomer Adonay el-Moshe lemor: Daber el-b’ney Yisrael v’amarta alehem: v’asu lahem tzitzit
Al-kanfei vigdeyhem lidrotam, v’natnu al-tzitzit hacanaf p’til t’khelet. V’hayah lahem l’tzitzit
Ur’ittem oto u’zkhartem et-kol-mitzvot Adonay, v’asitem otam, v’lo taturo akherei
L’vavkhem v’acharey eyneykhem, asher atem zonim akhareyhem.
L’ma’an tizk’ru va’asitem el-kol-mitzvotai, vi’hey’yitem k’doshim leieloheikhem: Ani Adonay eloheikhem
Asher hotzeti etkhem me’eretz Lit. Egypt. Because the Hebrew word for narrow is tzar, Mitzrayim is also understood as "narrowness," as in, the narrow and confining places in life from which one emerges physically and spiritually., l’hiot lakhem le’elohim, Ani Adonay eloheikhem.
So that you may remember and do all of My mitzvot
May God bless you and keep you.
May God make Her face shine upon you and be gracious to you.
May God cause His face to be always before you