Upshirin originally written for Talyah Tikvah Greene / טליה תקוה בת יוספה סוניה והרב יפת הכהן
תנינא להא דת"ר: האב חייב בבנו למולו, ולפדותו, וללמדו תורה, ולהשיאו אשה, וללמדו אומנות וי"א: אף להשיטו במים
Parents are obligated to do the following for their children: to bring them into the covenant, to redeem them if they are a first born, to teach them Torah, to find them a partner, and to teach them a trade. Others say: teaching them how to swim as well.
Talmud, Kiddushin 29a
In Jewish tradition it is customary to let a child's hair grow until his or her third birthday. Although this custom was observed for male children, in the contemporary community this custom has grown to include female children as well. The custom developed around the prohibition against collecting the fruit of a tree until it is three years old. Three also became the age when Jewish children began to learn torah in earnest and is seen as having arrived at the age of reason.
3. BIBLICAL TEXTS
וְכִי-תָבֹאוּ אֶל-הָאָרֶץ, וּנְטַעְתֶּם כָּל-עֵץ מַאֲכָל--וַעֲרַלְתֶּם עָרְלָתוֹ, אֶת-פִּרְיוֹ; שָׁלֹשׁ שָׁנִים, יִהְיֶה לָכֶם עֲרֵלִים--לֹא יֵאָכֵל. וּבַשָּׁנָה, הָרְבִיעִת, יִהְיֶה, כָּל-פִּרְיוֹ--קֹדֶשׁ הִלּוּלִים, לַיהוָה. וּבַשָּׁנָה הַחֲמִישִׁת, תֹּאכְלוּ אֶת-פִּרְיוֹ, לְהוֹסִיף לָכֶם, תְּבוּאָתוֹ: אֲנִי, יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵיכֶם.
When you enter the land and plant any tree for food, you shall regard its fruit as forbidden. Three years it shall be forbidden for you, not to be eaten. In the fourth year all its fruit shall be set aside for jubilation before the Lord; and only in the fifth year may you use its fruit - that its yield to you may be increased: I the Lord am your God.
בָּרוּךְ הַגֶּבֶר, אֲשֶׁר יִבְטַח בַּיְיָ; וְהָיָה יְיָ, מִבְטַחוֹ. וְהָיָה כְּעֵץ שָׁתוּל עַל-מַיִם, וְעַל-יוּבַל יְשַׁלַּח שָׁרָשָׁיו, וְלֹא ירא
יִרְאֶה) כִּי-יָבֹא חֹם, וְהָיָה עָלֵהוּ רַעֲנָן; וּבִשְׁנַת בַּצֹּרֶת לֹא יִדְאָג, וְלֹא יָמִישׁ מֵעֲשׂוֹת פֶּרִי)
Blessed is the woman who trusts in God, and whose hope is God. For she shall be like a tree planted by the waters, that spreads out her roots by the river, and she shall not see when heat comes, but her leaves shall be green; and she shall not be anxious in the year of drought, nor shall she cease from yielding fruit.
4. PARENT'S BLESSING
May you live to see your world fulfilled,
May your destiny be for worlds still to come,
And may you trust in generations past and yet to be.
May your heart be filled with intuition
And your words be filled with insight.
May songs of praise ever be upon your tongue
And your vision be on a straight path before you.
May your eyes shine with the light of holy words
And your face reflect the brightness of the heavens.
May your lips ever speak wisdom
And your fulfillment be in righteousness
Even as you ever yearn to hear the words of the Holy Ancient One of Old.
- Parents’ Blessing from Berahot 17a, as translated in Vitaher Libenu
5. THE RITUAL OF HAIRCUTTING
Tzedakah is a fundamental Jewish value in our home. We try to raise _____ with a sense that they are obligated to do justice in the world. We hope that as you take part in this ritual celebration today, and as _____ begins to learn in earnest the tradition of our community and the values of our family, that you will aid us in teaching _____ this important lesson.
We invite you to come up and to cut some of _____ 's hair. But first, please take a coin laying around and give it to _____ to place in her tzedakah box. We are grateful to our friend, Suzie, who is an experienced hair stylist, for agreeing to help us with this mitzvah. Let her direct you and please only cut when she says it is OK to proceed.
Blessing is an important part of any Jewish tradition. Just as we are nourished by the fruit of the trees we hope that _____ will nourish each of you in some way during her life. As she begins this process, (Spouse/Partner's name) and I want to invite you to offer a blessing to _____ ; to offer a prayer for some way that you hope she will nourish the world with the fruits of her life. It can be a public blessing or if you would like to speak it privately that would be wonderful as well.
Trees are nourished from above and below – by the rain and through the roots. To honor this, we ask that we begin with family members and then extend out to all of us gathered here.
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ אֱלֹהֵֽינוּ מֶֽלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם אֲשֶׁר קִדְּשָֽׁנוּ בְּמִצְוֹתָיו וְצִוָּֽנוּ עַל הֲהִסְתַפְּרוּת
Barukh Atah Adonay Eloheynu melekh ha’olam asher kideshanu bemitzvotav vetzivanu al hahistaprut.
Blessed are You, Adonay our God, sovereign of all worlds, who makes us holy through Your commandments and commands us concerning the cutting of hair.
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ אֱלֹהֵֽינוּ מֶֽלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם שֶׁהֶחֱיָֽנוּ וְקִיְּמָֽנוּ וְהִגִּיעָֽנוּ לַזְּמַן הַזֶּה
Barukh Atah Adonay Eloheynu melekh ha’olam shehekheyanu vekiyemanu vehigi'anu lazeman hazeh.
Blessed are You, Adonay our God, sovereign of all worlds, who has kept us alive, sustained us, and allowed us to reach this joyous occasion.
6. THE RITUAL OF TORAH STUDY
These are the things that a woman enjoys the fruit of in this world while the principal remains for her in the world to come: Honoring her parents, acts of kindness, arriving eagerly for learning both at morning and evening, welcoming guests, visiting the sick, accompanying the dead, praying with intentionally and making peace between people. However, the study of Torah encompasses them all.
Adapted from Siddur Miskhan Tefillah
The study of torah encompasses all of these wonderful things because our tradition teaches us it leads to all of these things. This afternoon we commit to _____ to set her on a correct path to a life of justice, equality, service and meaning. And we do that by teaching her letters of Torah.
In the Zohar, the rabbis teach us that each letter approached God one by one to ask to be given the honor of being the first letter of the Torah. When bet approaches, God decides to allow it to be the first letter. God then inquires as to why alef did not ask for the same honor. Alef responds with incredible humility – that since the honor had already been given it would have been unthinkable to ask God to reconsider and to take the honor away from bet just so alef could be first.
Talyah, as we recite the blessing for Torah study and you learn words of Torah for the first time, we hope that they will be sweet as honey on your tongue. And we pray that as you will be filled with not only knowledge and joy, but with humility and patience and gladness in the achievements of others. But most importantly, we pray that you remember the power of words. For as our Torah teaches us, God spoke and the world became. May you too create worlds of meaning with your words. And may we all be blessed to share words of torah with you for many years to come.
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ אֱלֹהֵֽינוּ מֶֽלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם אֲשֶׁר קִדְּשָֽׁנוּ בְּמִצְוֹתָיו וְצִוָּֽנוּ לַעֲסוֹק בְּדִבְרֵי תוֹרָה
Barukh Atah Adonay Eloheynu melekh ha’olam asher kideshanu bemitzvotav vetzivanu la’asok bedivrey torah.
Blessed are You, Adonay our God, sovereign of all worlds, who makes us holy through Your commandments and commands us to engage in the study of Torah.