A Welcoming Ritual

closeup baby face

This ritual was designed to be used in place of a traditional circumcision if a boy, or in place of foot washing or other alternative welcoming ritual if a girl. The inspiration came from Exodus 19:6, “And you shall be to me a kingdom of priests, and a holy nation.”

We used the ritual of anointing, used to consecrate the priests for holy service. Like the priests, we anointed the right ear, thumb and big toe with fragrant oil. We also anointed the area of the third eye—evoking the charge in the first paragraph of the shema for the law to be a symbol between the eyes. We also anointed above the mouth—echoing the traditional understanding of the power of speech.

Before each drop was placed a verse from Tanakh or liturgy was recited, with the intention of sanctifying how the child hears, acts, moves, sees and speaks throughout her life.

Proverbs 4:1–2

שִׁמְע֣וּ בָ֭נִים מ֣וּסַר אָ֑ב וְ֝הַקְשִׁ֗יבוּ לָדַ֥עַת בִּינָֽה:  כִּ֤י לֶ֣קַח ט֭וֹב נָתַ֣תִּי לָכֶ֑ם תּֽ֝וֹרָתִ֗י אַֽל־תַּֽעֲזֹֽבוּ:

Shimu vanim musar av v’hakshivu l’da’at binah: ki lekakh tov natati lakhem torati al ta’azvu.

Hear children the instructions of your parents, listen that you known understanding. For a good doctrine I have given to you, do not forsake it.

Psalms 15:1–2

מִזְמ֗וֹר לְדָ֫וִ֥ד יְ֭הֹוָה מִי־יָג֣וּר בְּאָהֳלֶ֑ךָ מִֽי־יִ֝שְׁכֹּ֗ן בְּהַ֣ר קָדְשֶֽׁךָ: הוֹלֵ֣ךְ תָּ֭מִים וּפֹעֵ֥ל צֶ֑דֶק וְ֘דֹבֵ֥ר אֱ֝מֶ֗ת בִּלְבָבֽוֹ:

Mizmor l’David Adonay mi yagur b’ahaletekha mi yishkon b’har kodshekha: holekh tamim u’foel tzedek vidver emet bilvavo.

A psalm of David. Lord, who may dwell in your tent, who may live on your holy mountain? One who lives without blame, acts with justice and acknowledges the truth in her heart.

Psalms 86:11

הוֹרֵ֤נִי יְהֹוָ֨ה דַּ֫רְכֶּ֥ךָ אֲהַלֵּ֥ךְ בַּֽאֲמִתֶּ֑ךָ יַחֵ֥ד לְ֝בָבִ֗י לְיִרְאָ֥ה שְׁמֶֽךָ:

Horeni Adonay darcenu ahalekh b’amitekha yakhed livavi lirah sh’mekha.

Teach me your way oh God, let me walk in your truth; let my heart be united to fear your name.

From morning liturgy

וְהָאֵר עֵינֵֽינוּ בְּתוֹרָתֶֽךָ, וְדַבֵּק לִבֵּֽנוּ בְּמִצְוֹתֶֽיךָ.

V’haer eyneynu b’toratekha v’dabek libeynu b’mitzvotekha.

Enlighten our eyes with your Torah and cause our hearts to cling to your commandments.

Proverbs 31:26

פִּ֭יהָ פָּֽתְחָ֣ה בְחָכְמָ֑ה וְתֽוֹרַת־חֶ֝֗סֶד עַל־לְשׁוֹנָֽהּ:

Piha patkha v’khokhmah v’torat khesed al-lishonah.

She opens her mouth with wisdom and upon her tongue is the law of kindness.

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