Published and Copyrighted by
"Kehot" Publication Society
770 Eastern Parkway • Brooklyn, N.Y. 11213
Tel. (718) 778-5436
All rights reserved.
No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form or by any means, including photo-copying and digital, magnetic, or optical storage, without permission in writing from the copyright holder or the publisher.
5760 • 1999
Rabbi Yonah Avtzon for preparing text for publication.
Yosef Yitzchok Turner for designing the layout and typography.
The present publication is an anthology of Chabad
customs regarding pregnancy and childbirth, including the topics: conduct during pregnancy; conduct during delivery; bris milah
; pidyon haben
; birth of a daughter; miscellaneous.
These customs have been compiled from the writings of our Rebbeim and Nesi'im: The Alter Rebbe's Siddur; Igros Kodesh of the Rebbe Rashab N"E; Igros Kodesh of the Rebbe Rayatz N"E; and — a large majority — from the Sichos and Igros Kodesh of the Rebbe Shlita.
Whenever possible the customs have been transcribed verbatim from the words of our Rebbeim and Nesi'im [except for things written in Yiddish that have been translated into Hebrew, or passages that appeared in the middle of some other topic and thus could not be transcribed verbatim].
For the public benefit we have added comments and literature citations beneath each custom.
Notice: Not all of these customs are explicitly designated in their source as being instructions that apply to the general public. Nevertheless — to make this work complete — all of it has been included in this anthology.
All the above was compiled and edited by Rabbi Avraham Y. Holtzberg.
Editorial Board of "Otzar HaChassidim"
Third Night of Chanukah 5752
Ninetieth year of the Rebbe Shlita
Brooklyn, New York
"Be fruitful and multiply" — the first mitzvah
in the Written Torah! The first blessing given to new parents is that they may raise their child "...to the chupah
"; and before the chupah
the blessing given to bride and groom is that they may be fruitful and multiply. Procreation, and the mitzvos
and ceremonies attending and following the birth — bris
, giving a name, pidyon haben
— are among the most joyous occasions in the life cycle of the Jew.
As with all aspects of Jewish life, pregnancy and childbirth are governed by laws and Halachos codified in the Shulchan Aruch and Poskim. These laws have traditionally been supplemented by customs that arose over the millennia of Jewish history. Some customs have become universal, some belong exclusively to certain continents or countries, and some are local to specific towns, villages, or communities.
Chabad too has its unique customs and practices — governing such diverse areas as the text of the prayers, the style of dress, and the shape of the letters in a Torah scroll or mezuzah. And of course, there are unique customs for the events that are the subject of this anthology.
Chabad customs are derived from the written works of our Rebbeim, from the Alter Rebbe to our own Rebbe — their chassidic discourses, Sichos, letters, diaries, and notes. Beyond this, there is a rich "Oral Torah" of instructions issued (or even casual remarks made) verbally by the Rebbeim, or observations of their deeds and practices, witnessed and recorded by chassidim throughout the generations.
Some of these customs were intended to be followed by the general public of Anash. Others were meant to be observed only by certain individuals, while still others are private instructions, to be followed only by those to whom they were communicated. Some customs belong exclusively to the family of the Rebbeim. But all are of significance to the world community of Chabad Chassidim. Even those customs we are not meant to follow in practice are very important for us to know.
Rabbi Avraham Y. Holtzberg has researched the complete range of Chabad literature in compiling this anthology of customs. The customs themselves are presented briefly in the main text, for those who wish to know "the way in which they should go and the deed they should do." For those — including practicing rabbis — who are interested in further details, citations and sources in the literature, and advanced discussions by authorities of Halachah, Kabbalah, and Chassidus, extensive material is presented in the footnotes.
May the mitzvah of procreation lead to the fulfillment of G-d's purpose in the Creation, resulting in the imminent arrival of Mashiach. May our study and practice of these customs speed the process, so that — "together with our youth and our elders, our sons and our daughters" — we may proclaim, "Behold, he has come," immediately, now.
Rosh Chodesh Kislev 5760
Fiftieth year of the Rebbe's Nesius
Brooklyn, New York