It's a Girl!
Thank Heaven for little girls. A guide to celebrating the newborn.
Parents of a new baby girl are filled with joy and are looking for a way to concretize that ceremonially. When a Jewish boy is born, there's a Shalom Zachar, a Bris and sometimes even a Pidyon Ha'Ben. There's lots of guests, a festive meal, and often a photographer and videographer.
But what do we do for a baby girl?!
To answer this question, let's look at a Torah which says that Abraham was blessed with "everything" (Genesis 24:1). The Talmud explains that this "big blessing" refers to a baby girl (Baba Batra 16b).
Survival of the Jewish nation is primarily due to women.
Why is a baby girl singled out for this great praise, "everything?"
With the blessing of a baby daughter comes a realization of the fullness of life. The song says: "thank heaven for little girls." The Jewish people have always thanked heaven for Jewish women, because our survival as a nation has been primarily because of Jewish women.
- The biblical matriarchs guided the Jewish people through nation-building and familial challenges.
- During the slavery in Egypt, the women kept their faith and continued having children, despite the bleak outlook for redemption.
- During the years of wandering in the desert, the women refused to participate in the Golden Calf and the sin of the spies.
- The heroine of Purim was Esther, and the heroine of Chanukah was Yehudit.
At every crucial juncture in Jewish history, women have come to the forefront, steering the Jewish people in the right direction.
Beyond this, Jewishness is passed on via the mother. If the mother is Jewish, the child is 100 percent Jewish. Jewish identity passed through the mother has been universally accepted by Jews for 3,000 years, and was decided by God, as recorded in Deut. 7:3-4. The Talmud (Kiddushin 68b) explains how this law is evident from those passages.
Jewish identity passes through the mother, as universally accepted by Jews for 3,000 years.
From the fact that Jewishness goes by the mother, we see that the woman is entrusted with the awesome duty of instilling faith in God, observance of mitzvot, and Jewish pride. Metaphorically, the mother gives the baby food and love that brings out it's internal potential.
Celebrating the birth of a Jewish daughter is therefore a celebration of Jewish survival, of Jewish values, and of Jewish destiny.
The naming of a Jewish daughter is a most profound spiritual moment. The naming ceremony is linked to the public reading of the Torah. During the Torah reading, a special "Mi Sheberach" blessing is said. The blessing begins with a prayer for the mother's health. It continues with the giving of the baby's name – and a prayer that this new Jewish daughter should grow to be a wise and understanding Jewish woman of goodness and greatness.
The baby naming is traditionally followed by a "kiddush" in honor of the baby girl, where friends and relatives gather to share good food, speak words of Torah, and share the family's profound joy.
All the details of how to choose a name for the baby, and the significance of a Jewish name, are found in the article, "Naming Your Baby"
with thanks to Rabbi Mitch Mandel