An Anthology of Chabad-Lubavitch Customs
Regarding Pregnancy, Childbirth, Circumcision,
Redemption of the Firtsborn, and the Birth of Girls
Conduct During Pregnancy
Compiled By Rabbi Avraham Yeshaya Holtzberg from The Wrintings of the Rebbeim of Lubavitch
Translated by Shimon Neubort
Published and copyright © by Sichos In English
(718) 778-5436 • info@SichosInEnglish.org • FAX (718) 735-4139
- It is the custom of chassidim who are careful to conduct their lifestyles according to the practices of old that they conceal their wives' pregnancies until they have entered the fifth month. Undoubtedly, this practice has an inner foundation. Of course, the precaution is about publicizing the pregnancy. It does not apply to divulging it to very close relatives without broadcasting it.
- There is a tradition among Anash — handed down by the elder chassidim of the Alter Rebbe who in turn heard it directly from his holy mouth, in the name of our masters the Baal Shem Tov and the Maggid of Mezritch — regarding various practices in the chassidic lifestyle. One of these is that before the end of the third month and the beginning of the fourth, no mention of the pregnancy should be made in a pan or in any note to the Rebbe.
- A pregnant woman should take three birds for kapporos — one [female] for herself, and an additional male and female because of the undetermined sex of the fetus [according to the custom of the AriZal].
- The Jewish custom is not to take a pregnant woman as a kvatterin. The same applies to her accompanying a bride ("unterfiererin").
- I have not heard of a custom among Chassidei Chabad that a woman who has entered her ninth month of pregnancy should immerse herself in the mikveh. 
- It is proper that each weekday morning she should donate a few pennies to charity. Of course, this is in addition to the regular donations she undoubtedly gives. The same applies to Erev Shabbos and Erev Yom Tov — before lighting the candles, she should donate to the Rabbi Meir Baal HaNess charity box — without undertaking a vow [to continue doing so always].
- One should inspect the mezuzos in his home, to ensure that they are kosher.
- When one's wife is pregnant, he should recite Psalm 20 (Lamnatzeiach...Yancha). Upon finishing the psalm he should repeat the second verse (yancha); while reciting it — or just before — he should have in mind that G-d should willingly accept his recital as though he had meditated on all the inner meanings that pertain thereto.
- A woman's conduct during pregnancy affects the child. Consequently, the custom of righteous women is that during the time of their pregnancy each one increases the care with which she attends to matters of Torah and mitzvos, for the benefit of the child. This applies even before she becomes pregnant. (As is known, during pregnancy they are especially cautious not to gaze upon unclean things, but rather to look only at things that are clean and holy. Similar precautions should be taken when she emerges from the place of immersion.
- (Back to text) Igros Kodesh of the Rebbe Rayatz, Vol. 9, p. 290. Likkutei Sichos, Vol. 12, p. 178. Igros Kodesh of the Rebbe, Vol. 3, p. 387; Vol. 4, p. 112; Vol. 5, p. 221; Vol. 7, p. 303; Vol. 8, p. 193; Vol. 11, p. 278.
- (Back to text) Likkutei Sichos, ibid.; Igros Kodesh of the Rebbe, Vol. 8, p. 209 (with the addition that one may tell all one's children about it); Vol. 11, p. 278.
- (Back to text) Cf. Igros Kodesh of the Rebbe Rayatz, Vol. 9, p. 284: "The accepted practice is that until three months of pregnancy it is concealed even from very close relatives..."
- (Back to text) Igros Kodesh of the Rebbe Rayatz, Vol. 9, p. 451.
- (Back to text) Alter Rebbe's Siddur. Likkutei Sichos, Vol. 22, p. 59, note 36:
We need not be concerned about the possibility of twins (as Bach writes ibid. quoting Mordechai Katan 43) — since that is a rare occurrence, and we are only dealing with a custom.
These days the situation requires further clarification, for many times it is known with certainty that she is carrying twins. Since we rely on this knowledge regarding questions of life and death etc., should she also act accordingly with regard to kapporos, or should we say that [she may still ignore it] because it is rare; and especially here, where in any case some authorities say that several males can discharge their obligation with a single rooster.
- (Back to text) In Likkutei Sichos, ibid., par. 6, the question is asked — why would an unborn fetus require any atonement...? He explains that if the woman ate forbidden food while pregnant, this has been transformed into her own blood and flesh and for this, she requires atonement — the food becomes blood in the woman's heart, and also in the heart of the fetus... (see source at length, and references cited there).
- (Back to text) Ibid., note 34:
This is the opinion of the AriZal cited in Magen Avraham, loc. cit., quoting Shaloh (beg. of p. 236b), second opinion in the Alter Rebbe's Shulchan Aruch (605:3), and Bach, loc. cit.: "I have discovered a text quoted from Mordechai Katan stating that a pregnant woman requires three kapporos, and this also appears to be the opinion of Darkei Moshe, loc. cit. (par. 2): 'furthermore, it is customary to take for a pregnant woman two hens and one rooster, since we are in doubt whether she will give birth to a son or a daughter'; we find the same thing in Eliyahu Zuta, loc. cit. (par 4), and Eliyahu Rabbah, loc. cit. (par. 8)."
Ibid., note 35:
This is the text of the Alter Rebbe in his Siddur, "Procedure for Kapporos," where he does not cite the first opinion. Examine the exact wording of the text in the above sources, and in Shaar HaKavannos in Siddur HaAriZal, Pri Etz Chayim, and Shaloh, ibid.
- (Back to text) Likkutei Sichos, Vol. 22, p. 58ff. The explanation appears in par. 4:
It is written in Shulchan Aruch in regard to the "Custom of Kapporos on Erev Yom Kippur" (that is the chapter title in Shulchan Aruch, and that of the Alter Rebbe in 605:3) that (in addition to the hen for her own kapporoh) a pregnant woman takes a rooster for the kapporoh of the fetus...
Accordingly, we may infer with regard to our case of a pregnant woman [serving as kvatterin]: the Jewish custom is that there should be exactly two, a man and a woman (or else two of each), and thus it turns out that we would have three people accompanying them or serving as kvatters; also, the number of males and females would not be equal, and perhaps this is also important.
One might ask: the one who accompanies, or the kvatterin, is actually the mother (not the fetus); so why is it different from other people who are standing there, about whom we are not concerned? The difference is obvious: other people are not present in the role of accompanying or of kvatterins, but the fetus is a part of its mother, and thus must also be counted as part of the accompaniment or the kvatters.
Likkutei Sichos, ibid., note 27:
See Ibn Ezra on Shemos 4:5: "It is the custom of women to call a male child chosson when he is circumcised." The child is also dressed in fine clothing, as on the day of his marriage.
The Sichah concludes that both instances constitute a single custom. In note 28, Michtav Oz of the Minchas Elazar is cited.
- (Back to text) Igros Kodesh of the Rebbe, Vol. 18, p. 51, with the addition: "On the other hand, since your wife's family does have such a custom, obviously you should not prevent her from doing this. Of course, it should be done only with the physician's permission." See also Otzar HaBris 1:7:12.
- (Back to text) Igros Kodesh of the Rebbe, Vol. 3, p. 387; Vol. 5, pp. 105, 220, and 327, with the addition: "She should add eighteen pennies each time, to what she has been giving until now to the charities of R. Meir Baal HaNess before candle-lighting." See also Vol. 7, pp. 108, 303, and elsewhere. Otzar HaBris 3:7:6 cites Iggeres HaTeshuvah of Rabbeinu Yonah, sec. 82 and others.
- (Back to text) Igros Kodesh of the Rebbe, Vol. 5, pp.105, 220; Vol. 7, p. 303. This is in reply to someone who inquired about special procedures during the months of pregnancy.
- (Back to text) Igros Kodesh of the Rebbe, Vol. 4, pp. 454, 492; Vol. 5., pp. 105, 220. Cf. Likkutei Mahariach, Vol. 3, quoting Midrash Talpiyos (section on women giving birth), that this psalm should be recited silently (there, it refers to the time of the actual delivery).
- (Back to text) Sichah of 19 Kislev 5747 (edited) — regarding care to be taken with a woman giving birth, including at the hospital (printed in Hisvaadiyos 5747, Vol. 2, p. 37; Teshuvos U'Biurim BeShulchan Aruch, p. 446).
- (Back to text) See sources cited in Otzar HaBris 3:7.
- (Back to text) Hisvaadiyos 5750, Vol. 3, p. 179.
- (Back to text) See Rama, Yoreh De'ah, end of Ch. 198; see also Shach, ibid.; Likkutei Sichos, Vol. 25, p. 310.