Sholem Zokhor

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SHOLEM ZOKHOR

SHOLEM ZOKHOR (Heb. שָׁלוֹם זָכָר; shalom zakhar; "peace to the male child"), name of a traditional home ceremony held on the first Friday evening after the birth of a boy. In some communities it is held on the eve of *circumcision. Besides Sholem Zokhor it is also called Vigil or Vakhnakht (Isserles to Sh. Ar., yd 265:12). For the Sholem Zokhor, relatives and friends gather at the home of the child's parents in order to congratulate them. After reciting the *Shema, the blessing from Genesis 48:16 and diverse psalms, as well as appropriate prayers, are said for the welfare of the mother and the newborn boy. The guests are served drinks, cakes, and fruits; in some places also lentils and chick-peas. Lentils, due to their round shape, symbolize the ever-recurring cycle of birth and decay. They are meant to be a consolation. The moments of sadness of the occasion are steeped in folklore which holds that the child has forgotten the holy Torah which he was taught in heaven before his birth. In Oriental communities, this ceremony is also called Shasha or Blada and includes the recital of special prayers and aggadic readings (from such books as Berit Olam (1948) or Berit Yiẓḥak (Amsterdam, 1719) in honor of the prophet *Elijah, the patron of the child at circumcision. The origin of the Sholem Zokhor ceremony, the participation in which is considered a mitzvah, is to be found in the Talmud where joy is expressed at the birth of a male child ("if a boy is born, peace comes to the world" (Nid. 31b)). In some communities, this ceremony is also called Yeshu'at ha-Ben, or Shevu'at ha-Ben, or simply Ben Zokhor (see Sanh. 32b, bk 80a, and Tos. ibid., s.v.le-vei).

See *Birth.

bibliography:

Eisenstein, Dinim, 417–18; H. Schauss, The Lifetime of a Jew (1950), 42, 56.