Shabbat Parashat Matot-Masei| 5763
Ask the Rabbi
Question: Is it permitted to make a bar-mitzva during the Nine Days (before Tisha B’Av )?
Answer: The meal held in honor of a bar-mitzva is considered a seudat mitzva (a meal which it is a mitzva to partake in) (Yam Shel Shalom, Bava Kama, ch. 7, siman 37). His main source is Kiddushin 31a, in reference to a statement by the blind amora, Rav Yosef. Rav Yosef said that if he would be convinced that the blind are obligated in mitzvot, he would make a seuda for his colleagues, because one who is commanded in mitzvot receives more reward for their fulfillment.If a celebration is in place just for finding out that one has always been obligated, all the more so is it appropriate when the obligations begin, when one becomes a bar-mitzva. Other sources in Chazal include Bereishit Rabba 53:10. This is certainly so when the party is held on the Jewish birthday itself (assuming the boy is sufficiently physically developed, which we are not required to check). The Magen Avraham (225:4) rules that even a bar-mitzva that is not on the birthday can be considered a seudat mitzva if the bar-mitzva boy publicly says diveri Torah. The apparent logic is that those present are reminded that this boy is indeed involved in the study of Torah, as he is now commanded, and they feel the cause for celebration.
It is permitted to partake of meat and wine at a seudat mitzva even during the week of Tisha B’Av (Rama, Orach Chaim 551:5), and this ruling should apply to a bar-mitzva as well (Yad Ephraim, ad loc.) Some want to learn from the Shulchan Aruch’s silence on the matter that he does not allow meat at a seudat mitzva during the week of Tisha B’Av (see Kaf Hachaim, OC 551:33). However, most poskim are lenient in the matter even for Sephardim. Even a delayed bar-mitzva with divrei Torah may be done during the Nine Days, but it should not be delayed for that purpose (Yad Ephraim, ibid; Kaf Hachaim. Ibid:158 )
During the first part of the Nine Days, one may invite whomever they would normally invite to the seuda, but people who just happen to be around may not take part in the meat and wine. During the week of Tisha B’Av, one should invite only reasonably close relatives and a small group of friends (Rama, ibid; Taz, ad loc.: 12); Mishna Berura, ad loc: 77). Some suggest serving fish and thereby removing the complication this situation raises. Others are lenient with the guest list even on the week of Tisha B’Av (Maharam, quoted in Taz, ibid; Yalkut Yosef pg. 568; see Aruch Hashulchan 551:30), and there is room to rely upon those opinions.
Participants at permitted bar-mitzva celebrations at this time may sing, but neither live nor recorded music should be played.
Receiving an aliya to the Torah and the accompanying ceremonies in shul on Shabbat are not problematic (see Igrot Moshe, Orach Chayim IV, 112.1)
This response is based on a teshuva in Bemareh Habazak III, 61.
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