Readings for B’nai Mitzvah

mount sinai

Tradition relates
that when Israel gathered at Mount Sinai
to receive the Torah,
Truth was revealed to us
amidst much lightning and great claps of thunder.
God, so the sages taught,
seemed to speak with the voice of a mighty Shofar.

Our sages said: Whatever a faithful student
will perceive and transmit; this is Torah.
However we find ourselves addressed
by the Shofar blast of Truth; this is Torah.
Whenever we stand humbled by Eternity
our hearts filled with love, our arms outstretched
to lift up the fallen, free the captive, embrace the lost—
this, too, is Torah.

Sinai is ever present.
Wherever we gather to seek Wisdom;
However we struggle to renew the covenant,
to discover the Way;
Whenever we listen and hear,
receive and transmit; we stand at Sinai.

Torah is a guide, a voice,
a whisper of Wisdom echoing within and without.
Her mitzvot commit us to justice.
Her teachings move us to compassion.
Her stories bring us to attention
that we might be present to life’s everyday wonders.
May the words of Torah be pleasant in our mouths.
May we and our children and our children’s children
come to study Torah as a gateway to Truth and Love.
May we hearken to the voice of Sinai
addressing us now and here.
May we be moved to exclaim the mystery of Life
revealed in the rising sun, the rustling tree,
the child’s cry and the Shofar’s blast.
Blessed are those who bring Torah to our people Israel.

(Parent takes the Torah from the Ark and says to the Bar/Bat Mitzvah:)
Sinai calls to you as it called to Moses:
establish mitzvot for your life.
Torah calls to you as it called to our people:
set yourself firmly on the Way of Justice and Compassion.

At this time of Bar/Bat Mitzvah you prepare
to ascend the heights of Sinai within.
The path is yours alone and alone you must travel upon it.
Yet you take with you the love and hope of past years.
They will be your companions forever,
as we/I will stand ever beside you.

May Life bless you and keep you.

May its Face be your face
and its Grace your grace.

May it shine within you
and bring you peace.

(If appropriate Torah is passed to the other parent who says:)
Torah is the voice of Sinai speaking to
the human struggle for peace.
Torah is the wisdom of people wrestling
with mitzvot, the Way of Harmony, Justice and Compassion.

As I now hold the Torah so I once held you.
Yet holding on is not the way of life,
and I must now begin to let you go
that you may find your own way.

But I must give you more than the fact of freedom,
I must give you the tools that make freedom meaningful.
Mitzvot are those tools—
the skills you will need to embrace life openly and fully.

So I now hand you the Torah as a symbol
of the power of mitzvah you will henceforth
with ever greater zeal seek for yourself.

(Bar/Bat Mitzvah responds:)
As I have received Torah from your hands,
so do I accept the challenge of Sinai
that comes to me this day.

The challenge is one of both freedom and responsibility,
calling me to affirm not only the dignity of self
but the dignity of others as well.

It is my heritage this day
to enter into a covenant with Life,
seeking the power of mitzvot I need
to live in harmony with my people and my world.

May this covenant bring peace and healing
to all who know me,
and may my struggles be for the good.

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