Youth Discipleship Training Course in the Hebrew Roots of the Christian Faith
This Bar/Bat Mitzvah study guide is, in reality, a youth discipleship training course in the Hebrew roots of the Christian faith. Its purpose is to help get pre-teens and teens grounded in the truth of the Torah and the gospel, get them saved/born again, and filled with the Spirit of Elohim. We want to help them establish a daily discipline of prayer and Bible study that will hopefully last a lifetime, and to have the ability to boldly and publicly confess their faith in Yeshua.
Proverbs 22:6 says, "Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it." It is our duty as parents, pastors, teachers and congregates to do this. We all must share in this serious responsibility. Ministry to our young people is the greatest ministry a congregation can have, since they are our future and our legacy, for they, and they alone, will carry YHVH's kingdom forward when the older generation is gone.
Please use the study guide below to accomplish this. I have designed this course with my own four children in mind to train them to be torch-bears for YHVH-Yeshua. I pray that you will do the same with the young people in your life.
Ya'acov Natan Lawrence,
Pastor, Congregation Elim and HRMDR
General Guidelines for Bar/Bat Mitzvah
The Bar/Bat Mitzvah tradition within Judaism, though an excellent concept, is not explicitly commanded in Scripture. In a sense, it is a rite marking the passage from childhood to pre-adulthood, and from innocence to moral and spiritual accountability. The Bar/Bat Mitzvah age of 13 for a boy and 12 for a girl corresponds with the arrival of puberty and the awakening within the young person of the fuller meaning of life, responsibility and character. At this age, spiritual and moral choices are being made that will chart a course for the rest of one’s life. A wise and discerning parent will recognize this crucial time in a young person’s life and will seize the opportunity to establish a spiritual and moral foundation that will act as a compass to guide their child for the rest of his or her life. This is a main purpose behind the bar/bat mitzvah ritual. Not only that, but upon accomplishing the program, it gives the young person a sense of great accomplishment and self confidence as he or she prepares to exercise a greater role within the spiritual community. A similar ritual exists in certain Christian denominations where there are catechism or confirmation classes that a young person goes through for several years. In reality, this is a type of spiritual indoctrination in the denomination’s beliefs, resulting in confirmation of one’s faith and full recognition into the spiritual community.
Bar (Son) or Bat (Daughter) Mitzvah (of the Commandment) is an honor or status conferred upon any one of the minimum age requirement who has completed the requirements below. It is up to the leaders and elders of each Torah community to establish their own requirements since there are no universal guidelines established in Judaism. When a child has achieved this status, they are viewed by the community as being fully established in covenantal relationship with YHVH Elohim and the religious community of which they are a part. They are to be viewed by the members of the community with the honor and respect such a status entails.
The earliest age, according to Jewish tradition, for attaining Bar/Bat Mitzvah status is 13 years old for a boy and 12 years old for a girl (the age of puberty). Adults are encouraged to obtain the Bar/Bat Mitzvah honor, as well. There is no maximum age for receiving this honor.
The bar/bat mitzvah candidate must spend an entire Torah cycle and keep YHVH’s annual moedim (set-apart times) in community with Hoshana Rabbah in order for Hoshana Rabbah to grant Bar/Bat Mitzvah status to a person.
It is recommended that bar/bat mitzvah candidates maintain a three-ring notebook chronicling all they have done toward earning their bar/bat mitzvah including writing assignments. A written record must be kept of all articles and books read including the date read and a brief summary or report on each item read. This record can then be presented to the officiants and witnesses at the bar/bat mitzvah ceremony.
Requirements for Children and Adults Seeking Their Bar/Bat Mitzvah
- Read the entire Bible. Memorize the order of the books of the Bible.
- Learn how to use a Bible lexicon, concordance, Bible dictionary, and biblical word dictionary.
- Read and work through either of Kay Arthur’s books "How to Study Your Bible for Kids” (co-authored with Janna Arndt) or “How to Study Your Bible” (Adults)
- Be able to read biblical Hebrew and pronounce words correctly. Know the Hebrew alphabet, vowel points and be able to write the Hebrew letters with ease. Also know the Greek alphabet and be able to read basic biblical Greek.
- Choose and memorize certain key Scripture passages: e.g.: Exod 20:117; Pss 1, 23, 103, 145; Matt 5:320; 1; John 3:1421; 1 Cor 13; 1 John 1 and 2; etc. (each month memorize a new Scripture passage).
- For male students: be a able to conduct a Torah Service.
- For male or female students: conduct an Erev Shabbat Service, Havdallah Service and say the B’rakhah.
- Write your own salvation testimony and statement of faith about your view of the Written Torah and Yeshua the Living Torah.
- Keep a journal of what you have read and write a short summary or book report on each one.
- Be born again, make public confession of Yeshua as Lord and Savior and be fully immersed in water for the remission of sins with a full understanding of Romans 6; 7:1425; 8 and 12.
- Take Hoshana Rabbah’s Statement of Faith and understand what each point means and how to explain each point in a basic way to someone
- To understand who Yeshua is, read the book, More Than a Carpenter, by Josh McDowell.
- To understand who Yeshua was in his historical context, read The Hebrew Vs. the Greek Jesus, by Nehemiah Gordon.
- To understand what Yeshua’s (and his disciple’s) view of the Torah was, read They Loved the Torah, by David Friedman.
- Read Natan Lawrence’s teaching article: Salvation, What Is It and Do You Have It?
- Demonstrate that you have established in your life a daily discipline of devotion and worship. Understand the importance of the following in the life of the Believer:
Go through an entire one-year Torah cycle.
- Daily devotions
- Read and study Natan Lawrence’s five volume Torah and Haftorah commentary, Torah Is Life! YHVH’s Instructions in RighteousnessA Commentary and Study Guide on the Torah (on-line).
- Be committed to keeping the weekly, seventh day Sabbath.
- Be committed to keeping YHVH’s seven annual appointed feasts.
- Be able to diagram out the Tabernacle, explain each of the furnishings of the Tabernacle and relate each aspect of the Tabernacle furnishing and main service to the redemptive work of Yeshua from memory.
- Understand and abide by the biblical dietary laws.
- Understand what it is to be righteous.
- Have a basic understanding of the restoration of the two houses of Israel.
- Read Redeemed IsraelReunited and Restored, by Batya Wooten. (for adult candidates)
- Read One Nation Under GodA Family Study of Biblical Israel, by Crystal Lenhardt. (for child candidates)
- Have a basic understanding of Messianic/biblical customs.
- Read God’s Appointed Customs, by Barney Kasdan.
- Have a basic understanding of the pagan influences in Christianity.
- Read, Too Long In the Sun, by Richard M. Rives or Come Out of Her My People, by C.J. Koster
- Read Natan Lawrence’s teaching article, Secular Humanism: The Devil’s Original Lie and the Religion of the New World Order
- Read a book on the Land of Israel and Jerusalemits history, geography, etc. and do a report on what you have learned.
- Read a book on the History of the Jewish People and the Land of Israel:
- Read Introduction to Jewish HistoryAbraham to the Sages, by Seymour Rossel
- Read Journey Through Jewish HistoryThe Age of Faith and The Age of Freedom, by Seymour Rossel
- Read The Young Reader's Encyclopedia of Jewish History, Ilana Shamir, General Editor, and Dr. Shlomo Shavit, Editor (highly recommended but not required as this book is no longer in print. It is available through library or used book sellers)
- The Bar/Bat Mitzvah candidate must be willing to:
- Learn to tie tzitzits and wear tzitzits all the time as a sign of your devotion to YHVH.
- Read Natan Lawrence’s teaching article, The Law of the Fringes (Tzitzit).
- Be willing to use a prayer shawl or talit at the appropriate times.
Recommended Books for a Bar/Bat Mitzvah to purchase and use as part of their daily spiritual walk:
- The Complete Jewish Bible by David Stern
- The ArtScroll Series Stone Edition Chumash, by Mesorah Publications Ltd.
- The Jewish New Testament Commentary, by David Stern
- Strong’s Expanded Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, by Thomas Nelson Publisher
- Messianic Shabbat Siddur, by Jeremiah Greenberg or a similar siddur.
Please note that all of Ya’acov Natan Lawrence’s teaching articles are available for free download from this website. All books listed are readily available from many Christian book stores or via the internet by typing in the title and author of the book in your web browser’s search engine and then ordering it online. For your convenience, in the near future we will be providing links to where you can purchase these books as well as a printable pdf version with checkboxes so you can keep track of your progress.
Honors/Benefits Conveyed Upon Successful Bar/Bat Mitzvah Candidates
Upon completion of the prescribed course the Messianic community will honor the successful candidate in the following manner (Congregation Elim candidates):
- Provide the candidate with a framed certificate of Bar/Bat Mitzvah completion.
- Will have a special ceremony to honor the successful candidate. This includes reading from the Torah scroll in English and in Hebrew during a Torah service, as well as giving a short drash (teaching/discussion) on the Torah-portion the candidate has just read.
- The community will present the successful candidate with special gifts.