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?