by Rabbi Moishe Dovid Lebovits. We have witnessed the scene of a bar mitzvah boy getting an aliyah and the father making a brachah of baruch shep’tarani. What is the source of this brachah? Why is it said? When is the proper time to say it? Does a parent say it for a daughter who became bas mitzvah? Does one say Hashem’s Name in this brachah like other brachos, or is it said without Hashem’s Name? All these and other questions related to baruch shep’tarani will be discussed below.
This brachah does not have a source in the Gemara. However, the Rishonim do mention the brachah.
Reason for the Brachah
There are two reasons given for this brachah.
1.Until this point, the father was punished for sins his son committed since he did not give the child proper chinuch.
2.The Levush says just the opposite. Until now, the child was punished for the sins of the father.
There is a question on the second reason. If it is true that a child is punished because of the sins of the father, why does it stop when he is bar mitzvah? Others disagree with the Levush.
Meaning of the Brachah
Many poskim discuss the nature of the brachah.
Some explain that until now the father was obligated in the son’s chinuch, and if the father was lax he might be punished. Now that the son is bar mitzvah, he is obligated himself, and the father is exempt from punishment.
Some explain that until a child is bar mitzvah he does not get rewarded for a mitzvah. This causes the father pain, which is like a punishment. When he becomes bar mitzvah he does receive a reward, and now the father is exempt from the pain.
Others maintain that before bar mitzvah neither the father nor the son are punished. When the child becomes bar mitzvah and then does an aveirah, it is a bad reflection on the father who should have trained him well. Regarding this, the father says baruch shep’tarani. He is exempt from punishment even if he may have not trained his son properly.
With Hashem’s Name or Not
There is a huge discussion in the poskim if one should say Hashem’s Name with this brachah or just “baruch shep’tarani mei’onsho shel zeh.” Many maintain that one should not say this with Hashem’s Name, while others say that it should be recited like any other brachah.
Some explain that we omit Hashem’s name because we are not sure how the child will turn out, so the joy is not complete yet. Others contend that many Rishonim do not mention this brachah at all; therefore, even if one says it he should do so without mentioning Hashem’s name.
Others argue that although there is joy that the father is not punished for the sins of his son, he still is not happy that his obligation for chinuch has been diminished, since we all wish to train our children to make sure they are going in the correct path. Therefore, it is not fitting to recite the brachah with Hashem’s name.
Some say that the time to say this brachah is as soon as the child becomes bar mitzvah. Since we wait for leining, the time for the brachah has passed. Therefore, we do not say Hashem’s Name.
Others explain that we are not certain that the child has reached puberty. Therefore, we don’t make a brachah with Hashem’s Name.
The custom is that this brachah is recited without mentioning the name of Hashem or reference to Malchus. Nevertheless, those who do recite it with Hashem’s Name have on whom to rely.
In any case, when the Name of Hashem is not recited the congregants do not answer amen.
This brachah should be said as soon as the boy becomes bar mitzvah.
However, there are different customs in this regard. Some maintain that it should be recited when the boy davens as a shatz for the first time. Others say it when he reads the Torah for the first time, which is usually on Shabbos. The logic is that the mitzvos are written in the Torah, and the brachah refers to the fact that one is exempt from the punishment of not properly fulfilling the mitzvah of training his son in Torah.
There is no need to wait for Shabbos, and if one wishes he may say the brachah during the week at leining if there is a nice crowd. If the boy receives an aliyah during the week, the brachah of baruch shep’tarani should wait until after the Kaddish after leining.
The custom is to say this brachah during leining, since the boy is called by his name to the Torah. This publicizes that this boy is now bar mitzvah, as opposed to when the boy davens for the amud.
The brachah is said after the boy finishes the brachah after the aliyah.
Some boys get maftir the week before their becoming bar mitzvah. The brachah may not be said at this point, since he is not bar mitzvah yet.
If, for whatever reason, one did not recite it at the above times, it may be said afterwardfor thirty days.
In Front of Child
Based upon the nusach of the brachah which mentions the word “zeh,” the brachah should be said in the presence of the bar mitzvah boy. Others maintain that there is no requirement for it to be recited in front of the child. Therefore, if the child’s bar mitzvah falls out in the summer while he is in camp, there is no need for him join his father in the city for the brachah. This is not a common occurrence, as the family usually gets together for the bar mitzvah.
If the father is away on a business trip on the day that his son turns bar mitzvah and he will receive an aliyah, the father should not say the brachah until he returns. If the father wishes, however, he may say it.
Does the Boy Say the Brachah?
It is generally the custom that the father of the bar -mitzvah boy says the brachah, although some opine the boy should say the brachah. This is not the custom.
The dispute can be explained as follows: According to the reason that the father is punished because of the son, it makes sense that the father recites the brachah. However, according to the Levush’s reasoning that the son gets punished, it makes sense for the son to recite the brachah.
Generally, this brachah is said at leining when ten people are present. Since today it is said without Hashem’s Name, there is no need to specifically gather ten people.
The poskim discuss at length why this brachah was only instituted for a bar mitzvah and not for a girl who becomes bas mitzvah.
According to the reason of the Levush, this brachah should be said for girls as well. The reason relating to chinuch might only apply to a boy, but some argue that parents have an obligation to make sure their daughter learns the applicable halachos. Based on this, some question why this brachah is not recited for a bas mitzvah, especially if Hashem’s Name is not mentioned.
Some explain that the brachah refers to relieving the father of the obligation of chinuch for learning Torah, which does not apply to a woman. Others argue that this brachah is recited publicly at leining, so it would not be proper for a girl.
Others say that the reason is that most girls stays in their parents’ home until marriage. Therefore, a girl’s chinuch extends well beyond the bas mitzvah.
Finally, we know that a woman’s husband is destined from the moment of conception, so the future husband’s mazel will protect her from being punished by her father’s sins. Therefore, no brachah is recited when she reaches bas mitzvah.
There are those who rule that one should recite this brachah when a girl becomes bas mitzvah.
If a man raises a young stepson, he recites the brachah when he becomes bar mitzvah, since he is responsible for the child’s chinuch. This would only apply, of course, if the mother has custody of the child.
However, since his sins would not affect the child, the Levush would rule that he would not recite this brachah. Therefore, he should make sure to recite it without Hashem’s Name. Others maintain not to say the brachah at all.
If R”l the bar mitzvah boy’s father is not alive, the grandfather should make the brachah since he assumes responsibility for the chinuch. It should not be said with Hashem’s Name.
When twins become bar mitzvah, the father should say the brachah separately after each child gets an aliyah. This is especially so since brothers do not get aliyos in succession.
When a boy is bar mitzvah on Tishah B’Av the father should say the brachah at the leining by Minchah, but not at Shacharis.
It is interesting to note that the beginning letters of the brachah of baruch shep’tarani mei’onsho shel zeh equals “eleh taryag — these are 613.”
We rule that a father does not say gomel for his child who was saved from a dangerous situation. Nevertheless, he can say baruch shep’tarani for his son, since the father himself is the source of danger to his son.
Bar Mitzvah Seudah
The custom is to make a seudah when a child becomes bar mitzvah.What is the nature of the simchah? The commonly known reason is that until now he was not obligated in mitzvos. The Gemara says that there is a greater reward for one who is commanded than one who is not commanded. If he was exempt from mitzvos until his bar mitzvah, why should he get punished (see above, Levush)? Since before his bar mitzvah he would get punished for the sins of his father and now he does not, we make a seudah.
Another reason can be based on the following: When a child is in the womb, there are two angels, the yetzer tov and yetzer hara. When the child is born the yetzer tov leaves, and does not return until the bar mitzvah. Therefore a seudah is made since one is happy to get his yetzer tov back. This can be compared to a person who lost a very precious object, and then found it. One makes a party on the day he finds it. So too, this child gets his yetzer tov back when he becomes bar mitzvah.
Harav Yaakov Kamenetsky zt”l said the following on this: the seudah for a bar mitzvah is for the boy. The father has to worry even after his child is bar mitzvah that he will go in the right path. Before bar mitzvah the child does not listen when the parent talks because many times he does not understand. Therefore, we punish the boy even by hitting. After bar mitzvah we talk to the boy about Torah, etc. When the father say baruch shep’tarani he is saying he does not have to punish anymore. The seudah made when the child becomes bar mitzvah is saying that now we can talk to him like a big person.
 Maharil, Minhagim Hilchos Krias Hatorah 5; Midrash Rabbah Toldos 63:10; see Darchei Moshe, O.C. 225; Rema 225:2; Leket Yosher page 40. Whether we check for signs of maturity or rely on the fact that in most cases it exists at that age, see Birurei Chaim 3:pages 610-615. Refer to Har Tzvi, O.C. 114; Ketzos Hashulchan 65:badi 13.
 Magen Avraham 225:5. The father is still obligated in chinuch; he just does not get punished for lack of chinuch (see Teshuvos V’hanhagos 4:55). Some maintain that the chinuch to teach Torah to his son is before thirteen years of age, and after that point the father is obligated to train the child in middos, etc. (see Sho’alin V’dorshin 1:5).
 2. See Magen Avraham 225:5.
 See Machatzis Hashekel 225:5.
 On this, see Eliyahu Zuta 225:3. Whether the father is obligated in teaching his child Torah after he becomes bar mitzvah see Minchas Chinuch 392; Shulchan Aruch Harav Hilchos Talmud Torah 1:6.
 Divrei Chamudos Maseches Brachos 9:30. See Bnei Banim 2:18.
 See Chasan Sofer 96; Levushei Mordechai 1:37.
 Divrei Chamudos Maseches Brachos 9:30. See Mor U’ketziah 225.
 Rivevos Ephraim 1:157:1.
 Bnei Banim 2:18.
 Rema 225:2; Chessed L’alafim 16; Yosef Ometz 452; Ben Ish Chai Re’eh 1:17; Kaf Hachaim 16; Birchos Habayis 1:31; Sha’arei Ephraim 4:25.
 Gra 225; Chayei Adam 65:3; Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 61:8; Aruch Hashulchan 4; Chasan Sofer 96; custom of Harav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach zt”l, quoted in Halichos Shlomo 23:40:footnote 151; Shanah B’shanah 5748 pages 280-281. See Divrei Yatziv, O.C. 1:45:17.
 Yad Yitzchak 3:303; Asei Lecha Rav 1:31.
 Mishnah Berurah 225:8; Bnei Banim 2:18.
 Chinuch Yisrael 2:pages 688-689. See Rivevos Ephraim 4:pages 24-25 which posits to perhaps wait until one’s child goes in the right path before saying the brachah.
 Mishneh Halachos 11:183.
 Divrei Yatziv, Y.D. 4:188:17. See Lehoros Nosson 8:7; Otzer Bar Mitzvah pages 286-288.
 Kaf Hachaim 225:16; Hakattan V’hilchosav 83:21; Teshuvos V’hanhagos 2:142; Rivevos Ephraim 1:157:1-2, 7:59, 8:137; Mishneh Halachos 11:183; Yalkut Yosef, O.C. 2:37:10; Sova Smachos 2:page 389:29; B’tzel Hachachmah 5:3:2; 5:132; Halichos Shlomo Tefillah 23:40; Be’er Moshe 1:10; Bnei Banim 2:18; Chanoch L’na’ar 40:3; Natei Gavriel Bar Mitzvah 12:2; Piskei Teshuvos 225:5; Sha’arei Halachah U’minhag 1:page 185; opinion of the Chazon Ish zt”l and Steipler zt”l, quoted in Orchos Rabbeinu 3:page 224:23. Some mention that Sephardim do not have the custom to say this brachah since it is not mentioned in the Gemara and many basic Rishonim (Keser Shem Tov 1:page 320).
 Mishnah Berurah 225:8; Teshuvos V’hanhagos 4:55.
 Halichos Shlomo Tefillah 23:footnote58. See Tzohar 13:page 55:6 which quotes from Harav Chaim Kanievsky shlit”a to say amen. Refer to Sha’arei Ephraim 4:25.
 See Darchei Moshe 225.
 Divrei Chamudos Maseches Brachos 9:30; Magen Avraham 225:5; Mishnah Berurah 6.
 Terumas Hadeshen page 40; Magen Avraham 5; Sha’arei Ephraim 4:25; Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 61:8; Mishnah Berurah 6; Rivevos V’yovlos 2:176; Piskei Teshuvos 225:5.
 Mishnas Yosef 5:56:6.
 Teshuvos V’hanhagos 2:142; Natei Gavriel Bar Mitzvah 12:11. We don’t say the concept of the more the better; since the boy is bar mitzvah today, there is no need to wait.
 Natei Gavriel Bar Mitzvah 12:10.
 Some question why the child is given maftir when he is bar mitzvah (see MiBeis Levi 12:page 16) since he can get this even without being bar mitzvah (see Ohr Yisrael on Milah page 418:24). However, the custom is today that a child does not get maftir, so giving him maftir by his bar mitzvah seems to be the custom (Sha’ar Hatzion 225:7).
 Shanah B’shanah 5748:pages 279-280; Natei Gavriel Bar Mitzvah 12:14. See Ashrei Ha’ish, O.C. 1:page 265:38.
 Sha’arei Rachamim (on Sha’arei Ephraim) 2:1; Sha’arei Ephraim 4:25; Natei Gavriel Bar Mitzvah 12:1.
 Mishneh Halachos 11:184.
 Ketzos Hashulchan 65:badi 14; Tzitz Eliezer 723:4. See Mishneh Halachos 11:184.
 B’tzel Hachachmah 5:132.
 Yad Yitzchak 3:303; Sha’arei Horah 8:pages 43-44; Natei Gavriel Bar Mitzvah 12:3.
 See HakattanV’hilchosav 83:pages 176-177; see Yesodo Yeshurin 2:page 245.
 Natei Gavriel Bar Mitzvah 12:8.
 See B’tzel Hachachmah 5:132.
 The mother does not say the brachah (see Pri Megadim Eishel Avraham 225:5).
 Baruch She’amar page 189.
 Pesach Hadvir 225; Bnei Banim 2:18. See Beis Avi 3:48:1.
 Refer to Sho’alin V’dorshin 1:5.
 Rivevos Ephraim 1:157:1; Tzitz Eliezer 7:23:4. See Divrei Malkiel 1:4.
 B’tzel Hachachmah 5:134.
 Refer to Yabia Omer, O.C. 6:29; Baruch She’amar pages 189-190; Birurei Chaim 3:15 in depth; Miyum Hahalachah 2:79; Asei Lecha Rav 1:31; Be’er Sarim 2:62:3, 3:77:5; Be’er Moshe 1:10; Divrei Shalom 7:84; Mishneh Halachos 11:18; Otzer Bar Mitzvah pages 544-549.
 Pri Megadim Eishel Avraham 225:5; Yabia Omer, O.C. 6:29:3.
 Pri Megadim ibid. See Asei Lecha Rav 1:31, Yabia Omer, O.C. 6:29:3.
 Refer to Rema, Y.D. 246:6; Sefer Chassidim 313; Mishnah Berurah 343:2; Likutei Halachos Maseches Sotah, perek 3:page 11a; Shevet Halevi 6:150; see Divrei Yatziv, Y.D. 139-140; Birurei Chaim 3:pages 592-610. See Mishneh Halachos 11:185; Yabia Omer, O.C. 6:29:3.
 Refer to Beis Yisrael, O.C. 34.
 Asei Lecha Rav 1:31.
 See Teshuvos V’hanhagos 1:156; Birurei Chaim 3:pages 609-610; Beis Avi 3:48.
 Kaf Hachaim 225:15. Others don’t like this reasoning (see Divrei Yisrael, O.C. 34). See Divrei Menachem 38:page 132:38. See Be’er Eliyahu 1:83.
 Kaf Hachaim 225:15. On this see Chashukei Chemed, Maseches Kesubos pages 519-520.
 Yabia Omer, O.C. 6:29:3.
 Regarding a child who his not his real son, see Maseches Megillah 13b, Sanhedrin 19b, Maharsha, She’eilasYa’avetz 1:165, Chasam Sofer, E.H. 76.
 B’tzel Hachachmah 5:3:1. See Mishneh Halachos 3:26.
 B’tzel Hachachmah ibid. In regard to whether the child’s biological father makes the brachah one should ask a rav (Hakattan V’hilchosav 83:page 180:footnote 55).
 B’tzel Hachachmah 5:3:1. See Miyum Hahalachah 3:17. Refer to Yagel Yaakov page 133:footnote 218.
 Mishneh Halachos 3:26. Some frown upon calling this boy to the Torah by the father who is bringing him up and not his real father (Mishneh Halachos 3:26).
 Sha’arei Rachamim on Sha’arei Ephraim 4:20; Rivevos Ephraim 1:157:2, 7:59. See Tuvcha Yabi’u 1:page 192; Miyum Hahalachah 3:17.
 Opinion of Harav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach zt”l quoted in Hakatton V’hilchosav 83:footnote 57; Halichos Shlomo Tefillah 23:41; Lehoros Nosson 8:7:3. See Rivevos Ephraim 8:137; Shevet Halevi 8:29:2.
 Shulchan Aruch, O.C. 141:6; Levush 6; Sha’arei Ephraim 1:30; Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 23:13; Aruch Hashulchan 8; Ohr L’tzyion 2:page 296.
 Divrei Yisrael 1:149.
 Be’er Eliyahu 1:83.
 Nemukei Orach Chaim, O.C. 219:1.
 Some say to recite the brachah of baruch shep’tarani at the seudah (Divrei Malkiel 4:1).
 Mishnah Berurah 225:6.
 Maseches Kiddushin 31a.
 Matanah L’bar Mitzvah page 50.
 Ibid. pages 50-51.
 B’mechitzas Rabbeinu page 256-257.
 See Kaf Hachaim 225:14.