Every week, parshaoftheweek.com brings you a rich selection of material on parshat hashavua, the weekly portion traditionally read in synagogues all over the world. Using both classic and contemporary material, we take a look at these portions in a fresh way, relating them to both ancient Jewish concerns as well as cutting-edge modern issues and topics. We also bring you material on the Jewish holidays, as well as insights into life cycle rituals and events...
The birth of a baby is universally recognized as a major event. In the Jewish tradition, as in others, one of our first concerns is the health of both the newborn and the mother. Special prayers, called a Misheberach (מי שברך) - He who blessed our fathers and mothers should bless and heal the mother and her newborn child - are said in synagogue, typically diring the reading of the Torah. The mother also recites the הגומל blessing, recited by men or womern who have come through any type of dangerous experience.
In different communities, there are a variety of ways to celebrate the birth. A שלום זכר - welcome to the male - is a party often held by Ashkenazim and some others on the first Friday night after the birth, typically in the home of the parents or grandparents. In many Sephardic communities, a zeved bat (זבד בת) is held, in thanksgiving for the gift of a new baby girl. Modern celebrations can include a Brita - an entering into the Covenant for a baby girl who, of course, does not undergo any circumcision, and which parallels the male baby's Brit.