Religion & Beliefs

How Jewish Is Your Birthday?

Tomorrow I’m going to a birthday party. My friend Bea is turning ONE! And while I posted awhile back about “Jewish birthdays”, and linked to a cool “Jewish birthday calculator” I realize now that I neglected to mention why birthdays … Read More

By / March 9, 2007
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Tomorrow I’m going to a birthday party. My friend Bea is turning ONE!

And while I posted awhile back about “Jewish birthdays”, and linked to a cool “Jewish birthday calculator” I realize now that I neglected to mention why birthdays matter in Judaism.

This is probably because I didn’t know if they did at all. I mean, it’s not like there was time for Moses, while wandering around in the desert, to stop off at Chuck E Cheese for a few games of skee-ball. And I don’t think ice-cream cake had even been invented yet.

But according to Chabad, birthdays ARE Jewish. And meaningful too.

This site puts it like this:

A Jewish birthday is a very auspicious day. Our sages tell us that on a person’s birthday his “mazel” is dominant. Indeed, according to the Talmud, the miracle of Purim is largely credited to the fact that Moses’ birthday occurs during the month of Adar! Two of our major holidays celebrate birthdays: Rosh Hashanah is the birthday of Adam, and Passover is the collective birthday of the Jewish Nation (see Ezekiel, chapter 16). Your birthday is a day to express gratitude to G-d for bringing you into this world, entrusting you with the mission of illuminating it with the radiance of Torah and Mitzvot. This day, which is akin to a personal Rosh Hashanah, is the appropriate time to recommit to the mission at hand, resolving that the added maturity and experience gained during the past year will cause the following year to be even more productive and fruitful.

Which is certainly not a distinctly Jewish idea, but it’s a good reminder that your birthday is a time to reflect on what you’ve learned. Not just a time for wishing—blowing out your candles and hoping for good fortune—but for thanks and wisdom too.

And maybe…if you don’t plan on taking Chabad’s suggestion to “Study a Chassidic idea and repeat it at a gathering in honor of your birthday,” you will think about making a motzi when you blow out your candles. Or taking a walk before your party, so you can think about the things you’ve learned in the previous year. Because it’s always a good idea to slow down and think…

Man! I bet Bea isn’t even thinking about how lucky she is. The little princess. I bet she hasn’t given all she’s learned this year a second thought. Selfish little thing!