Monday, August 3, 2015

Easing Childbirth

There are few moments in life as full of anticipation and hope as that of bringing new life into the world. The excitement of the nine months of pregnancy can also be laced with anxiety. In fact, traditional Jews will often wish an expectant couple “b’sha'a tova” (in a propitious time) rather than Mazal Tov, which is reserved for after the birth. It is, therefore perhaps, not surprising that there are several Jewish segulot (auspicious omens or acts) for expecting parents. Segulot are not replacements for prayer, which is the most effective way to communicate one’s needs to God. But, for some, it serves as a means of helping people focus their prayers by providing a concrete action. 

Psalms and Charity: According to Jewish tradition, the recitation of Psalms and the giving of charity are spiritual remedies for nearly every trouble. However, both of these acts are frequently cited as segulot that are specifically helpful to pregnant women. In particular, it is recommended that Psalm 20 be recited, especially during labor.

Opening the Holy Ark (Peticha): Sources for this custom date back only a few hundred years, and yet it is now a fairly common custom. When a woman enters her ninth month, the husband is given the honor of opening the ark (cabinet in which the Torah scrolls are stored) as a segulah for her to have an easy delivery. 

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