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
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
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
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).
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
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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