Halacha for Wednesday 12 Adar 5784 February 21 2024

“Baruch She’Petarani Me’Onsho Shel Zeh”

Question: Is it correct that on the day of one’s son’s Bar Mitzvah, one should recite the blessing of “Baruch Ata Hashem Elokeinu Melech Ha’Olam She’Petarani Me’Onsho Shel Zeh” (“Blessed are You Hashem, our G-d, King of the universe, Who has exempted me from the punishment of this one”)? Does the same apply when one’s daughter reaches Bat Mitzvah age?

Answer: The Midrash Rabba (Parashat Toldot) states: “One must tend to one’s child for thirteen years. From then on, one must recite ‘Baruch She’Petarani Me’Onsho Shel Zeh.’” The student of the Maharam writes likewise in his Sefer Tashbetz. Similarly, the Sefer Maharil states: “Maharil (acronym for Rabbeinu Yaakov Molin, the great halachic authority on whom most Ashkenazi customs are based; his opinions are frequently quoted by the Rama) recited the blessing ‘Baruch Ata Hashem Elokeinu Melech Ha’Olam She’Petarani Me’Onsho Shel Zeh’ when his son reached Bar Mitzvah age and read from the Torah.” This blessing, including the recitation of Hashem’s name as is the case with any other blessing, is quoted by many great Poskim.

However, the Rama in his work, Darkei Moshe (Chapter 225), quotes the aforementioned Maharil and Midrash Rabba and writes, “However, I have not found this blessing mentioned in the Gemara and it is difficult for me to see people reciting a blessing that is not mentioned in the Gemara.” This means that since this blessing of “Baruch She’Petarani” is not mentioned in the Gemara, we may certainly not recite this blessing with Hashem’s name, although it is mentioned in the Midrash and in the words of many Poskim. Similarly, the Rosh (Chapter 8, Bechorot) writes that we do not recite blessings that are not mentioned in the Mishnah or Gemara, for after Ravina and Rav Asheh compiled the Talmud, no other blessings were instituted. (This ruling has many halachic ramifications.)

The Rama therefore rules in his notation that although this blessing should be recited on the day of one’s son’s Bar Mitzvah in accordance with the opinion of the Maharil, nevertheless, one should recite it without Hashem’s name, i.e. “Baruch She’Petarani Me’Onsho Shel Zeh.” The meaning of this blessing is that thus far, the father was punished sternly for his son’s actions, for a father is responsible for his son’s actions and to educate him in the path of Torah. From now on, the son is responsible for his own actions since he has already grown up and become a full-fledged Jewish man; the father no longer shoulders as much responsibility as before. Others explain just the opposite: Until the son grows up, he may be punished for his father’s sins, for sometimes young children are held accountable for their parents’ sins. However, once he has grown up, he is held accountable only for his own actions (see Halichot Olam Volume 2, page 200, where Maran zt”l discusses this matter at length).

Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l writes that clearly, the same applies to the day one’s daughter reaches the Bat Mitzvah age of twelve and one should recite (without Hashem’s name): “Baruch She’Petarani Me’Onsha Shel Zo.”

Summary: On the day one’s son or daughter becomes Bar/Bat Mitzvah, the father should recite the following blessing, without Hashem’s name: “Baruch She’Petarani Me’Onsho Shel Zeh.” (The Ben Ish Hai adds that one should preferably think Hashem’s name, i.e. “Hashem Elokeinu Melech Ha’Olam,” in one’s mind, but not actually recite it.)

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