It’s common knowledge that on the eighth day after a son is born in a Jewish family he will most likely have a circumcision-(Hebrew:בְּרִית מִילָה). Today, we want to teach you about some of the lesser-known customs in Judaism that are held between the time of a Jewish baby’s boy’s birth and his circumcision.
Ashkenazi Jews have a custom called “Shalom Zecher”-שָׁלוֹם זֵכֶר-which takes place on the evening of the Shabbat after the birth, when the happy family invite many friends to their house in order to celebrate the birth with food, drinks and a lot of singing.
A common food served at this time is chickpeas; in Yiddish they’re called arbes. A verse from Genesis 22:17 is also often recited on this occasion:
“כִּי-בָרֵךְ אֲבָרֶכְךָ, וְהַרְבָּה אַרְבֶּה אֶת-זַרְעֲךָ כְּכוֹכְבֵי הַשָּׁמַיִם, וְכַחוֹל, אֲשֶׁר עַל-שְׂפַת הַיָּם”
“Indeed I will greatly bless you, and I will greatly multiply your seed as the stars of the heavens and as the sand which is on the seashore…”
At the same time of rejoicing, there is also a moment of sadness; in the Talmud it says that when the baby is in his mother’s womb he knows entire the Torah by heart; at the moment he is born, an angel comes and gently taps the child’s upper lip and in that moment he forgets all the Torah that he knew. He must begin his study again, all of the days of life on this Earth.
In our next article we shall learn more customs that are celebrated before the circumcision.