A Jewish Weaning Ceremony

The celebration of an infant's weaning goes back to the feast Abraham held for his son Isaac.

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Psalm 104

"Bless the Lord, O my soul;

O Lord, my God, You are very great;…

You make springs gush forth in torrents;

they make their way between the hills,

giving drink to all the wild beasts;

the wild asses slake their thirst.

The birds of the sky dwell beside them

and sing among the foliage.

You water the mountains from Your lofts;

the earth is sated from the fruit of Your work.

You make the grass grow for the cattle

and herbage for man's labor,

that he may get food out of the earth--

wine that cheers the hearts of men

oil that makes the face shine,

and bread that sustains man's life.

The trees of the Lord drink their fill,

the cedars of Lebanon, His own planting,

where birds make their nests;

the stork has her home in the junipers.

The high mountains are for wild goats;

the crags are a refuge for rock-badgers.

He made the moon to mark the seasons;

the sun knows when to set.

You bring on darkness and it is night,

when all the beasts of the forests stir.

The lions roar for prey,

seeking their food from God.

When the sun rises, they come home

and couch in their dens.

Man then goes out to his work,

to his labor until the evening.

How many are the things You have made, O Lord;

You have made them all with wisdom;

the earth is full of Your creations."

A Series of Blessings

The mother says:

"Blessed are You, God, Ruler of the Universe, who has made me a woman."

Barukh atah Adonai Eloheynu melekh ha-olam she'asani isha.

"Blessed are You, God, Ruler of the Universe, who has enabled me to nurse."

Barukh atah Adonai Eloheynu melekh ha-olam she-natan li l'haynik.

The father says :

"Blessed are you, God, Ruler of the Universe, who sustains life with loving-kindness."

Barukh atah Adonai Eloheynu melekh ha-olam ha-m'khalkel chayim b'chesed.

The mother and father together say:

"Blessed are You, God, Ruler of the Universe, who creates the fruit of the vine."

Barukh atah Adonai Eloheynu melekh ha-olam borei p'ri ha-gafen.

After the parents drink the wine, they give the child a small sip. This symbolizes the end of the child's dependence on his mother's milk. Then they say:

"Blessed are You, God, Ruler of the Universe, who has sustained us and preserved us and brought us to this occasion."

Barukh atah Adonai Eloheynu melekh ha-olam shehecheyanu v'kiyamanu v'higiyanu laz'man hazeh.

"May we, in love, continue to give sustenance to this child and provide for his/her physical needs. May we provide spiritual sustenance through examples of goodness and loving-kindness and by teaching the insights of the Torah and the traditions of our people."

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Mel Silberman

Dr. Mel Silberman is a professor of adult and organizational learning at Temple University and an internationally known expert on teacher training. He is the author of numerous books in his field, the latest being Working PeopleSmart.