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A Self-Guided Study
Revised August 2020
This guide may be used for those who are new to a Hebraic understanding of Scripture, faith and lifestyle as well as for those who would like the honor of obtaining a Bar or Bat Mitzvah with us in our local community. Though such a ceremony is not explicitly commanded in Scripture, it is in a sense a rite of passage, marking the movement from childhood to adulthood, from innocence to moral and spiritual accountability. For those moving toward a Torah pursuant lifestyle in Messiah Yeshua as an adult, it is also a sort of rite of passage. Though there may be a wide knowledge of Scripture as previously taught, there is yet more to be learned as is revealed through the study of Hebrew and a Hebraic context. We find that there is definitely a time of adjustment as all previous beliefs are examined in light of additional information and background.
Traditionally, a Bar or Bat Mitzvah (Son or Daughter of the Commandments) occurs around the ages of 12 and 13, which coincides with the arrival of puberty and the awakening within the young person of the fuller meaning of life, responsibility and character. Similar to many cultures this can be seen in traditional Christianity as the time for the rite of Confirmation. Spiritual and moral choices are being made that will establish a direction for the rest of their lives. A wise and discerning parent will recognize this as a crucial time to help a young person set that course wisely.
Those who come to Messiah Yeshua as an adult may have many years within the faith, knowing Him as Jesus of Nazareth and may have gone through such a Confirmation earlier in life. They will see the same Person, the Son of the Living God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, but they will be seeing him now more clearly in the context which our YHWH chose. They may well be surprised and struggling with the idea of acceptance of all that is taught from Genesis/Beresheit through Revelation/Hitgalut as being applicable for today; particularly observance of the Feast Days, Shabbat and the dietary guidelines.
Taking the time to establish a firm foundation of understanding is wise. Whether it is during teen years or adult years, this time of transition is intensely important to the stability and fruitfulness of life in Messiah Yeshua and among His people. A Bar or Bat Mitzvah is an honor or status conferred on one who has met the requirements for understanding established by the elders of each Torah pursuant community. When someone of any age has achieved this status, they are viewed by the community as being fully established in covenantal relationship with YHWH Elohim and the community, and are to be viewed by the members with the honor and respect such a status entails.
There will never be one “right” course for all people to develop this foundation, but we have reviewed a great deal of material and have found these listed here to be of great value in that process. These guidelines are comprehensive and attempt to address the knowledge of Torah (both Written and Living Torah) as well as personal, emotional, relational, and spiritual needs for our members to move toward the maturity into Messiah our Head that our community strives to develop.
It just isn’t possible to move through this transition quickly, whether adolescent or adult. Understanding comes as the Ruach/Spirit leads, line upon line and precept upon precept. We can say that we believe a good working knowledge of the basic stories, people, places and events is necessary first before moving into deeper levels of understanding, as a protective measure against immature interpretation or application. For those adults coming into a Hebraic understanding, you may also find it helpful to read Barb’s book: New to Torah: A Practical Guide to Pursuing Messiah, the Living Word, for support in dealing with all the changes this transition brings.
We suggest that all students maintain a notebook chronicling all they have done toward establishing their foundation of Scriptural understanding and/or earning their Bar/Bat Mitzvah, including written assignments. This guide may be printed out and used as a check off list for that purpose. We have seen many people study a great deal with various teachers from various sources yet without an established foundation of understanding, these teachings can be easily misconstrued.
If the honor of being a Son or Daughter of the Commandments is desired, this record may then be presented to the Leaders/Elders of the community and witnesses at a Bar/Bat Mitzvah ceremony. They may also choose to ask another member of the community, or a parent, to be confirmed by the leadership, to assist them in maintaining accountability along the way. We do not have formal Bar/Bat Mitzvah classes and do not foresee this in the near future so each candidate will need to be proactive and responsible to document what they have studied.
These guidelines may be modified as determined by the leadership of Set Apart Ministries. Some of them may have been met prior to participation with Set Apart Ministries at the discretion of our leaders yet the honor would not be conferred with less than one year’s participation with our community. We affirm that knowledge alone is not sufficient but needs to be clearly shown as part of one’s lifestyle, discipline, and relationships, walking it out in love. We are a Zadok ministry more so than an Eli ministry (see Sons of Zadok by C.R. Oliver)
May these guidelines prove fruitful in your life as you follow after Messiah, becoming more like Him, as a member of His Set Apart people!
Barbara L. Klika, MSW Undershepherd
Janell I. Schroeder, BBA, Elder