- Family and Society
- General Questions
Are parents required to recite any specific prayers commemorating the birth of a male or female child?
Tradition has it that in contemporary times where in we lack a Bet HaMikdash and are, therefore, not able to be bring Sacrifices [Korbanot], anyone who recites the Biblical portions of the sacrifices is deemed as if he or she actually brought a Korban in the Bet HaMikdash. This concept is the rationale for reciting the Korbanot every day. The Mishna Berura notes that it is not sufficient to merely recite these portions but also to actually understand the meaning of what is being said. (Mishna Berura , Orech Chayyim 48:1) Of concern to HaRav Shlomo Hakohan, the Rav of Vilna, was that this principle should mandate parents to recite specific Biblical verses upon the birth of children. The Torah specifically states that a woman was required to bring a Korban on the 41st day of the birth of a male child and on the 81st day of the birth of a female child. Accordingly, on these dates a woman should recite the Biblical verses dealing with the original Sacrificial obligation. Namely, [Tazria,] -VaYikra 12:1–12:7. Just as the Sages decreed that the verses of other Korbanot should be recited, so too should a mother of a new born child recite the Biblical verses that refer to her obligation to bring a sacrifice. Her recitation should be deemed as if she actually brought her mandatory Korban. At first, moreover, Rav Shlomo HaKohan, suggested that the requirement to recite these verses should be obligatory to both the father as well as the mother of a new born child. The paternal obligation was, perhaps, due to the Talmudic rule that the husband is personally obligated to bring any Korban that his wife was required to bring (Nedarim 35). Since the recitation serves in lieu of the Korban, the father should also be mandated to recite it. He subsequently rejects this paternal obligation for a variety of reasons. A main argument is that bringing a Korban has a financial element in that it cost money. Husbands were obligated from marriage to assume all the Sacrificial financial obligations of their brides. Since in contemporary times there is no financial obligation rather only a commitment to recite verses, the husband has no obligation at all in this matter. Indeed, the atonement was only applicable to the mother no matter who paid for the Korban. HaRav Shlomo HaKohan concludes that mothers of new born children should recite the suitable Biblical verses on the appropriate 41st or 81st dates of the birth of their children. He sees no reason to exempt women from this obligation (Responsa Binyon Shlomo, Volume 1:Siman 1:5,pp.68-70). Yet, this custom is not generally practiced. I do, however, recall learning a sefer who suggested that a father reenact some form of the ancient practice by receiving an Aliyah to the Torah near or on the 41st day of the birth of a boy or the 81st day commemorating the birth of a girl. This custom would reenact in some form the Biblical concern. Rabbi J. Simcha Cohen