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Blessing By Parents For A Birth

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Rabbi David Sperling

Tevet 20, 5777
Question
Who exactly says the blessing after the birth of a child? Do both father AND mother say shehecheyanu after a baby boy/girl? Also, how long do they have to say the blessing? What if some time has elapsed, even years? Thank you.
Answer
Shalom, Thank you for your question. First of all let me just point out (what you probably meant anyway) that there is a different blessing for the birth of a girl than the blessing for a boy, as the Rabbi in the original answer wrote. But your question is a good one in any case – do both parents say the blessing? The Shulhan Aruch (Orech Haim, 223,1) writes "If ones wife gives birth to a boy he says the blessing HaTov VeHaMativ, and also she (his wife) needs to say the blessing". This is also the case on the Shehecheyanu blessing for the birth of a girl. So, the answer to your question is clear – both the mother and farther need to recite the blessing. However, a few additional points – firstly, the mother must first make sure that she's cleaned up from the birth, and has washed her hands and covered herself before reciting any blessings. (The farther also cannot recite the blessing unless he is in a clean location etc). So she should wait until she is dressed and clean, and then say the blessing. Next, as in all blessings, when two people are equally obligated in the same blessing one of them can say the blessing with the intent to exempt both of them, on the condition that the one listening intends to be "covered" by the one saying the blessing. So to in this case, one of the parents could say the blessing for both of them (if they both have intent to fulfill their obligation in this way) and the other could just say "amen" on hearing the blessing. Personally this is what I believe is the best way to fulfill this blessing (and what I personally did). I asked my wife to recite the blessing for both of us, and recited amen to her blessing. My reasoning for this is that it seems to me that the mother's words of praise after giving birth will be filled with more true thanks to the L-rd than the husbands, and thus be on a higher level and a better blessing. But one can certainly have each one say the blessing themselves. As to the time limit for the blessing – the Mishna Brurah (ibid 3) writes that one can say the blessing even if one did not say it immediately, as the happiness continues beyond the first moment. The latter day Rabbis say that as long as one is still busy telling their family and friends the good news of the birth it is considered as being in the original happiness, and the blessing may be recited. Other Rabbis put the limit at three days after the birth. Everybody would agree that one has missed out saying the blessing if years have elapsed. (But one can always use their own words, outside of the form of blessing, to thank G-d for the merit to have children, even when they are fully grown). Blessings.
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