Tooth-Losing Ceremony

Found In: Childhood Milestones

Tags: tzedakah, shehekheyanu

By Shai Cherry Ph.D | Complete Ceremony

In American culture, teeth fall under the jurisdiction of the tooth fairy, regardless of religion. Tooth fairies are less than ideal for several reasons: Jewish kids know it's a fiction and it valorizes money. Moreover, it is a lost opportunity to instill Jewish values.

The following is to be recited with your child at the moment of tooth loss. (This blessing is traditionally uttered when seeing an unusual creature.): 

Barukh Atah Adonai, Eloheinu, Melekh Ha’olam me'shaneh habriot.

Blessed are You, Lord our God, Ruler of the world who gives teeth to creatures.  

(The above is not a literal translation for this blessing.  It is more literally translated as "who varies creatures." You may also wish to be explicit that the word for tooth is shen.) 

For first tooth loss, then say the shehechiyanu:

Barukh Atah Adonai, Eloheinu, Melekh Ha'Olam Sh’hechianu, v’kiyimanu, v’higiyanu, la-zman hazeh.

Blessed are You, Eternal One, our God, Ruler of Time and Space, who has kept us alive and sustained us and helped us to arrive at this moment.

Remind your child that meshaneh also means "varies." Thus, God has made each of us a little different and this is why we each lose our teeth at different moments. That also means that we learn to read, to write, to draw, and to play ga-ga at different times too. Just like God gives the Torah to everyone according to their abilities, so too does God give other gifts at various times.  Not all the kids in class lose teeth at the same time because God makes each one of us a bit different.  God varies God's creatures, and that's a blessing!

In Turkey, parents bring their children to the garden of a place or building that symbolizes what the child desires to be as an adult. For instance, a child who wants to be a doctor might go to a hospital and plant his or her tooth in a garden there. The venue (a school, a university, court house, fire house, synagogue, sports stadium, massage parlor, etc…) is an opportunity to tailor the occasion to the individual child. What building or place represents something to which your child aspires? This could be the setting for this component of the ceremony.

As you plant the tooth, remind the child that God created Adam and Chava in the Garden of Eden in order to be planters. In our prayers we describe God as zorea tz'dakot, one who plants righteousness and then nurtures its growth. We, too, created in God's image and commanded to walk in God's ways, now need to plant and nurture righteousness. As we plant the tooth, we recite:

Barukh Atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melekh Ha’olam zorea tz'dakot.

Blessed are You, Eternal One, our God, Ruler of the world, planter of righteousness.

For each tooth the child loses, divide a certain amount of money (as the parents see fit) between the child and a tzedaka of the child's choice. The tzedaka should be connected to the venue of the planting. For example, if planting at a sports stadium, the tzedaka could be the Special Olympics or the Maccabiah Games.