Did you bless your children tonight (Motzaei Shabbos)? Birkas Habonim elucidated – A Minhag Ashkenaz nugget -ביאורים במנהג ברכת הבנים בשבת

Dear readers – I have been working on some special pieces, בעזרת השי”ת, but the more original and high quality and lengthy something is, the more time and effort it may take, which can mean less posting (quality over quantity and frequency). So I leave you high and dry sometimes with no new posts for a while.

But I know that there is a great thirst out for the beautiful and unique type of Torah that we are zoche to from רבש”ה. So I am thinking of to fill that kind of gap, taking some short pieces from רבש”ה to hopefully sustain you in the interim. Sort of like Shorshei Minhag Ashkenaz nuggets. So here is one such nugget, on the minhog of ברכת הבנים, the bentching of children, taken from a shiur given by רבש”ה a few years ago. Enjoy!

ORIGINALLY DONE THREE TIMES AROUND A SHABBOS

Many Jews give their children a blessing, a brocho, birkas habonim, on שבת. Most people who heard of it, who know of it, who do it, who practice this, do it only Friday night, but the original מנהג, as it came down from the ראשונים, was to do it after every major tefilloh of שבת, which means Friday night after davening, Shabbos morning after davening, and מוצאי שבת after davening. And if people are so surprised I’m talking about Motzaei Shabbos, I can tell them (that) the משנה ברורה mentions it in הלכות תשעה באב, that is, if you usually give a brocho on Motzaei Shabbos, and this Motzaei Shabbos falls out on Tisha be’Av, then you do not give the ברכה. But that is the exception to the rule, only מוצאי תשעה באב is it so. But most שבתות are not Motzaei Tisha be’Av, so there is room for giving a brocho for the children on Motzaei Shabbos. This applies to fathers and mothers, and grandparents to their grandchildren, etc.

WHY THRICE?  BIRKAS HABONIM AN EXTENSION OF ‘GOOD SHABBOS’

Now why three times? Because the brocho which we give to our children is an extension of a brocho which we give to everybody else. We meet our friends in Shul after davening, what do we say to them? Gut Shabbos. What is Gut Shabbos? It’s a brocho (like good morning, להבדיל). But with your own child, you extend the brocho, you say something else, you add something, ישימך אלקים כאפרים וכמנשה, or יברכך ה’ וישמרך. When do you say Good Shabbos? When do we say Gut Voch? After maariv, after shacharis umusaf, and after maariv Motzaei Shabbos. Not after mincha. Why not after mincha? Many people do not know the reason.מען זאגט נישט גוט  שבת נאך מנחה(‘one doesn’t say good Shabbos after mincha’). Some people do say it, because they do not know the reason for the minhog not to do so. The reason we do not say it after מנחה, was because (in the old minhag Ashkenaz) people would not leave Shul then. Either because of a shiur or because of aveilus for משה רבנו, they never left Shul. There are still places today where it is so, where they sit in Shul, they have a shiur, etc., they don’t leave Shul then. If you don’t leave Shul you don’t say good Shabbos. ..and therefore there’s no room for an extension of the brocho (of גוט שבת) because there’s no brocho altogether. There are some people nowadays that have come back to this מנהג of blessing the children not just on Friday night, but rather they bless them three times around Shabbos.

BIRKAS HABONIM TODAY

Dear readers – do any of you do this (bentch the children three times around a typical Shabbos)? Do most bentch them just once a Shabbos? I believe that some people only bentch their children on erev Yom Kippur. Anyone know where that comes from? Please feel free to chime in if you can help us here. Thanks in advance.

P.S. I think that ברכת הבנים, done properly, can be beautiful, and strengthen the relationship between parents and children. Birkas habonim as a way of showing love and strengthening familial bonds. Hope that doesn’t sound like modern psychobabble. What do you think?

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13 Responses to “Did you bless your children tonight (Motzaei Shabbos)? Birkas Habonim elucidated – A Minhag Ashkenaz nugget -ביאורים במנהג ברכת הבנים בשבת”

  1. SBA Says:

    1) There is a Ramo in SA OCh 292:2 “venohagu shelo likvoa midrash bein mincha lemaariv”. Very few people seem to know of this.

    2) What is the nusach used to ‘bentch’ girls?

    • Treasures of Ashkenaz Says:

      Hi, thanks for the comments.

      1) The Rama you mention can be seen here. See however the Mishnah Berurah there who qualifies what the Rama says.

      2) I assume ישימך אלקים כשרה רבקה רחל לאה, no?

      3) I was just looking in the sefer מנהגים דק”ק וורמייזא, מהדורת מכון ירושלים, with הגהות of רבש”ה, and I saw there that the Rabbonim would bentch the children as well. Seems that the children got a lot of ברכות in old Ashkenaz!

    • Treasures of Ashkenaz Says:

      I asked רבש”ה about your comment, and he directed me to what it says in the כל בו, סימן מ, where it states the following : ונהגו בהרבה מקומות שלא לעסוק בתורה בין תפלת מנחה לערבית לכבוד משה רבינו ע”ה רבן של נביאים שנפטר באותה שעה כמו ששנינו נשיא שמת כל בתי מדרשות בטלין, והגאון רב שלום ז”ל כתב בשבת במנחה מותר להתעסק בתלמוד ולא עוד אלא שמנהג בבית מדרשו של רבינו בבבל שאחר תפלת המנחה שונין אבות וקורין בתורה ואמת הדבר שאין לבטל בית המדרש מכל וכל רק מתבטלין מעט לכבוד הרב אבי התורה שנפטר באותה שעה….

      The כל בו was before the רמ”א. What the רמ”א writes has to be put in context and perspective. In אשכנז there were ancient minhogim from the time of the Rishonim that predated the רמ”א by a long time, and they stuck to them, as the Chasam Sofer famously comments, that they didn’t abandon such minhogim.

      Also, see the טור in סימן רפב.

      • SBA Says:

        Indeed the Kol Bo was before the Rema and he writes that the Minhag in many places is (as the Rema says) not to learn Torah at that time..
        Maybe that Kolbo is the source of the Rema.

      • Treasures of Ashkenaz Says:

        Okay, perhaps, but I assume that what רבש”ה meant was that minhag Ashkenaz is like what is brought there in the name of הגאון רב שלום and what is stated ואמת הדבר שאין לבטל בית המדרש מכל וכל וכו.

  2. David Says:

    New to this blog, who is רבש”ה?

  3. Treasures of Ashkenaz Says:

    Welcome!

    רבש”ה = רב בנימין שלמה המבורגר שליט”א.

    Rav Hamburger, who resides in Eretz Yisroel, is founder of Machon Moreshes Ashkenaz, mechaber of various seforim, including the שרשי מנהג אשכנז series, and a recognized authority on minhogim.

  4. anshl Says:

    dos loshn-rabim fun “shabes” iz oyf yidish “shabosim” un nisht “shabosos”. tsi iz dos “shabosos” afn ashkenazishn loshn-koydesh?

  5. David Says:

    Thanks! I heard him speak when he was in KAJ – Washington Heights. It was very interesting. I am not a Yekke, but we lived there for quite a few years before making aliyah.
    Keep up the interesting posts.
    KT
    David

  6. Richie Says:

    Yes, I bentsch the kids exactly when you said – Friday night, after Shabbos lunch and also after Havdala. One question for you – I bentsch the kids after bentsching on Friday night (i.e. not before kiddush, which is the popular time). Any source for this Minhag? I also bentsch the kids when they go on a journey. Any source for this Minhag?

    • Treasures of Ashkenaz Says:

      I cannot answer all your questions here. I recommend the KAYJ forum (link on side of main Treasures of Ashkenaz page).

      I know that רבש”ה spoke about ברכת הבנים in Baltimore last year, but I was not there. He has a great amount of material on the subject and hopes to אי”ה cover it in a fifth volume of שרשי מנהג אשכנז. It has been seven or so years since the last volume came out (the recent English synopsis volume is another matter), so the thought of more שרשי מנהג אשכנז (SMA) volumes is great news.

      Hopefully sponsors will step up to help make the long awaited resumption of the publication of SMA a reality soon. מכון מורשת אשכנז needs and deserves the support for it’s vital work!

  7. YDL Says:

    “I bentsch the kids after bentsching on Friday night (i.e. not before kiddush, which is the popular time). Any source for this Minhag?”

    I have never heard of this…it seems to go against the reason of the Minhag. But you are consistent as you also do it after lunch and not before. Very interesting.

    I think bentsching before going on a journey is not so uncommon. The idea is (I think) to wish the person well (Yivarechicha etc) and to impart to them how they should act (Ephraim/Menasheh – who were away from ‘home’, or the Imahos).

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