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    Celebrating a baby – Ask the Rabbi

    Q. Why do we have a celebratory meal when a baby boy is born?

    babyA. It probably began with Abraham and Sarah who made a feast to mark their son Isaac (Gen.21:8).

    Any happy event has a Jewish celebration associated with it, originally because childbirth was associated with danger and there was no guarantee that the mother and child would survive.

    There was also a spiritual and intellectual danger. The unborn child is said to have learnt a great deal in the womb but at birth everything was lost, so that subsequent education was like re-learning. Having a party to mark the birth was to console the baby for his loss of knowledge, and it reassured him that the family and community welcomed his arrival nonetheless.

    All this applies when the baby was a boy, but many circles extend the celebration to the birth of a girl. The source is said to be the Talmudic report (Bava Batra 91a) that Bo’az had 120 children, 60 boys and 60 girls, and he believed in celebrating the birth of both sexes.

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