A Message of Blessing for Mother and Child

A Message of Blessing for Mother and Child

 Foreward

During the Yud-Tes Kislev farbrengen, 5747, the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory, recalled and discussed an interesting custom that has been forgotten in modern times. In the days of old, when childbirth would take place in the home, selected holy verses and names were placed in the mother's room before she gave birth,as a protective measure. Traditionally, the newborn infant was also surrounded with words and objects of holiness, from the moment of birth. These customs are not followed today, in modern hospitals, yet they should be reinstated. Do not wait until the mother and child come home; start at the hospital!

It should be noted that in the case of a hospital delivery room this practice may be subject to careful interpretation of Halacha (Jewish law), and in the case of uncertainty, an authoritative Rav/Moreh Hora'ah needs to be consulted. *

 Blessings and Protection For The Blessed Event

In keeping with an ancient Jewish custom** which has been practiced for centuries, the neonatal home is festooned with pieces of parchment or paper which are inscribed with holy verses, angelic names and the psalm, "Shir Hama'alos - A Song of Ascents...My help will come from the L-rd" (Psalms 121). In some communities the custom takes the form of an amulet worn by the mother. "An accepted Jewish custom assumes the force of Torah," say our sages, (see Tosfos, Menachos 20b), which explains the significance of the observance of this custom. The different traditional versions of this practice will all bestow a benevolent glow of protection and blessing on the postpartum mother and the newborn infant. When these verses are hung up prior to the labor and birth, they will certainly elicit Heavenly blessings so that the labor and birth shall be easy and without complications, and afterwards they extend their blessings for a good and long life.

Regarding the newborn baby there is an additonal aspect to bear in mind. It is very important that as soon as a Jewish child is born he/she should be enveloped in an atmosphere of holiness. It is known that what a one-day-old baby sees and hears will have an influence on the child even many years later. Surround the child with objects of holiness and it will help add blessing and success tothe life of the child so that the parents will merit to raise the child "to Torah, to the marriage canopy and to good deeds".

Bring Back The Good Old Traditions 

I would like to propose that special attention be given this subject to that it become widely practiced today.

In past generations, mothers gave birth at home with the assistance of a midwife. Under those circumstances, they certainly took meticulous care that they shouldbe properly surrounded from the time of labor with the appropriate words and verses of holiness.

In our times, women give birth in hospitals for medical reasons, yet they have not given this important custom the attention it warrants. Only after the mother and child return home from the hospital are the "Shir Hama'alos" hung up in and around the appropriate rooms of the house.

And yet, it is quite obvious that it is even more important that the appropriate items which afford protection should be present at the time of birth in the hospital***.

Shir Hama'alos In The Hospital

Therefore, it is important to call this to the attention of Jewish people everywhere, so that even when the birthing mother and infant are in the hospital, one should endeavor to hang up a "Shir Hama'alos" in the room of the mother and the child, and if possible to place one on the cradle of the baby, similar to the custom which is practiced in their home. For these virtuous acts are even more important when they are closer to the birth.

Certainly, with a bit of encouragement you will also be able to convince the hospital authorities of the benefits of this practice and they will happily agree to permit it.

Medical wisdom acknowledges that the good health and successful care of a patient depends to  agreat extent on his/her spiritual-mental condition. It is therefore vital to remove any trace of worry or insecurity froma patient to ensure that he/she will have a complete mental and spiritual calm, the optimal state of mind and a pleasant attitude.

This is especially true in obstetrics when the mother's psychological condition is of extreme importance. The birthing mother's attitude must be completely calm and relaxed.

A Blessing For Doctor and Patient 

When you explain to the doctor and the administration of the hospital that the "Shir Hama'alos" which hangs in the room will quell all fear, induce calm and inspire an optimistic attitude in the mother who has faith in the power of these holy words, there will certainly be no opposition on their part, and they will happily agree to put up these papers to satisfy the birthing mother so that she will be calm, composed and relaxed.

In the long run, the doctors will also benefit from this practice. A good doctor, who is also honest and realistic, is basically concerned with the well-being of the patient. If any complication or deterioration should G-d forbid arise in the condition of the patient, it will cause the caring doctor to be upset and disturbed. The conscientous doctor obviously seeks to put the patient at ease, physically, mentally and spiritually, which in turn, allows the doctor to be more relaxed, enabling him/her to administer their expert medical care in the best possible manner.

Therefore, when the verses of "Shir Hama'alos" will be hung up in her room, the mother will be at ease, the attending physician will also be at ease, and the resulting medical care will be of a much greater quality.

Spread The Word- Blessings For All

Consequently, it is advisable to publicize this custom wherever Jews live, so that the verses of "Shir Hama'alos" may be put up in the mother's room and in the baby's nursery to afford a measure of protection; it would be most appropriate and propitious to put up these verses in the mother's room as soon as she arrives at the hospital, when she goes in to give birth and after the birth. Certainly, all this will be accomplished with appropriate approval, gladly granted by the medical staff and hospital authorities.

A practice so beneficial should be prevalent not only in major cities where there are many Jewish women giving birth, but also in small town where there may be only a few Jewish mothers

More Children- Better Children, Bring Moshiach

May it be the will of G-d that by bringing more children into the world, quantitatively, and also by improving the spiritual quality of giving birth, by increasing the heavenly protection and blessing, this will bring to the coming of the "Son of Dovid". As our sages tell us:

The son of Dovid (Moshiach) will not come before all the souls in Guf (the spiritual region inhabited by the souls of the not-yet-born) will have been disposed of (will have been born into the world). (Yevamos 62a).

A Time Of Honored Tradition 

Childbirth is an exciting and exhilirating experience for any mother or father. At this joyous time, it is important to remember that in creation of this precious new being there is a third partner: G-d.

The Shir Hamalos (Song of Ascents, Psalm 121) contains prayers with traditional words and phrases of the Kabbalah (the esoteric realm of the Torah). The verses of this Psalm states our declaration of dependence upon the Creator for our safety and well being, with His commitment to guard us at all times. These treasured verses protect and safeguard the mother and child during this special time. it is customary to have thees writings with the mother at the onset of labor, throughout the birthing process and consequently in the nursery, next to or in the baby's bassinet.

This time-honored tradition is an integral part of the Jewish birthing experience. Jewish education begins at the moment of birth, when the new baby is surrounded with holy letters and verses. Set the tone for a future Jewish life by expressing your very being and essence - your Jewishness!

Two Shir Hamalos cards are kept with the mother from the onset of labor throughout the delivery, preferably in an envelope. Upon birth, one Shir Hamalos card is placed in the infant's bassinet.

At home, the Shir Hamalos should be placed in the mother's and baby's rooms, as well as around the crib. It is customary to hang a copy above/on the front door of the home and above/on the door of the nursery room for a minimum of 30 days.

May your family merit much Yiddishe nachas and happiness from your child(ren).

Best wishes for a quick, easy, safe delivery and for a healthy newborn!

The sources of this custom are shrouded in antiquity and references may be found in the following works: Rozeil Hamalach, Tishbie, Eidus L'Yisroel, Kesser Shem Tov (Gagin), Segulos Yisroel, etc.

***See Talmud Berachos 54b: "Three persons require guarding (against evil spirits: Rashi)...A sick person, a birthing mother..." In the case of a hospital delivery room a Rav/Moreh Horaah should be consulted whether the text must be "double covered". 

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