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What is a Jewish Birthday?

What is a Jewish Birthday?

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One's Jewish birthday is, of course, the date upon which one was born according to the Jewish calendar (to find out when your Jewish birthday is click here).

Far from considering it incidental, Jewish tradition regards one's Jewish birthday to be brimming with meaning and relevance and, in some ways, even a mini-Rosh Hashanah!

The Talmud informs us that on our Jewish birthdays our mazel (good fortune) is dominant.

The Jewish birthday is the perfect day for reflection about our lives as Jews and is an auspicious time to make new resolutions to perform good deeds and to deepen our commitment to Torah and the role it plays in our lives.

On one's Jewish birthday it is customary to get together with family and friends to celebrate Jewishly. At the celebration one should say a prayer of thanks to G‑d, give money to charity, and learn some Torah.

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Eliezer Zalmanov for Chabad.org July 14, 2014

Re: birthday candles Some trace the custom of placing candles on a birthday cake to the ancient Greek practice of celebrating the birthday of one of the pagan gods. You can read more about this here. Reply

Anonymous South Africa July 14, 2014

Birthdays Is it wrong for a child to blow out candles on a birthday cake. Reply

Rabbi Menachem Posner October 7, 2011

Tם Julie I had accidentally given a partial citation. You can find it in the Jerusalem Talmud, Tractate Rosh Hashanah, chapter 3, section 8.

May you have a sweet new year! Reply

Julie sharon, MA October 6, 2011

Talmud cite I had been taught that that when one says the Talmud, without specifying Jerusalem or Babylonian, it means Babylonian. Here I learn that's not so! also, could you give the full citation for Jeruaalem 3:8, - i.e. which tractate? Thanks so much!

I'd love to look it up and learn more!

thanks Reply

Eliezer Zalmanov for Chabad.org April 5, 2011

Re: Customs You can wish the celebrant a successful and productive year, and because their spiritual abilities are particularly strong that day, you can ask to be blessed in return. Reply

Noam London March 31, 2011

Customs Are there any customs for non-birthday celebrant should adhere to on the day? I was invited to a birthday but I don't know what I'm supposed to do. I am Jewish, but have never celebrated a Jewish birthday, so I'm feeling a great deal of apprehension about the day because I don't want to do anything that would offend or take away from the celebration. Reply

Menachem Posner for Chabad.org October 10, 2010

To Jacob: The source for this is Jerusalem Talmud 3:8. There we read that Israel’s enemy, Amalek, chose warriors to fight on their birthday, figuring that a man would not fall in battle on a day when his mazal was dominant. What did Moses do? He “mixed up the mazalot” so that their mazalot were not in effect.

What does it mean that a person’s mazal rules on the day of his birthday? Each of us has a specific spiritual source from which we come and we draw our sustenance. On a person’s birthday, this is particularly strong—increasing his or her abilities. Reply

jacob lonon, UK October 8, 2010

BIRTHDAY Dear author
The article states in par 3 that the ' The Talmud informs us that on our Jewish birthdays our mazel (good fortune) is dominant'

Please could you give reference and expand on this? Reply

Menachem Posner for Chabad.org NYC September 1, 2010

Jewish Birthday for a Convert In a letter, the Lubavitcher Rebbe advised that a convert celebrate the day that he/she became Jewish as his/her birthday. Reply

Anonymous Toronto, Canada August 31, 2010

Adoption We adopted our son and then converted him - when is his Jewish birthday, the date he went to the Mikveh or the date he was actually born? Reply

Menachem Posner for Chabad.org July 22, 2010

To Natalya First of all, I want to let you know that you share your birthday with someone very special.

As you know, the saddest day on the Jewish calendar is the 9th of Av, the date when – among other tragedies – both Holy Temples were destroyed, leading to our nation's exile from the Holy Land. Nevertheless, our Sages tell us that despite the sadness and pain, this is the birthday of Moshiach, our future redeemer:

"On the day that the Holy Temple was destroyed, a Jew was plowing his field when his cow suddenly called out. An Arab was passing by and heard the low of the cow. Said the Arab: 'Jew, Jew! Unyoke your cow, free the stake of your plow, for your Holy Temple has now been destroyed.' The cow then lowed a second time. Said the Arab: 'Jew, Jew! Yoke your cow, reset the stake of your plow, for the Redeemer has now been born...'"

The redeemer, and with him the potential for redemption, was born the moment after the destruction. So being born on this day is nothing to feel bad about.

I would suggest that while you spend your actual birthday in contemplation and spiritual introspection, you have your birthday celebration—with food, friends and Torah thoughts—a day or two after your actual birthday. Reply

Natalya Baltimore, MD June 30, 2010

a Tisha B'av birthday, as well I was also born on Tisha B'av (early morning, so no ambiguity). Always had a very conflicting attitude towards it... Should I even celebrate it? If so, how? Should I just spend my birthday solemnly and quietly? If so, isn't that disregard for G-d's gift of life?
If anyone has suggestions or good sources to look at, I'd really appreciate it. :) Reply

Mark Schwartz Tel Aviv, Israel November 16, 2009

Born before or after sundown... If we don't know if we were born before of after sundown, how can we know what our exact Hebrew birthday is?? Reply

Adam Kratt Pasadena, CA August 24, 2009

Chanukah I was born the day before Chanukah Reply

VH09 Grovetown, Ga. January 14, 2008

jewish birthday we thank G-d for the life and celebrate the continuation of the gift, as we look forward to many opportunities to do His will. Reply

David Ben Yohanan December 31, 2007

to Casey, Cape Town, South Africa:
"Rejoice in the birth of all things."

to Stacie, Hammond, LA:
Nothing happens by accident... "All things serve the will of G-d." Reply

Sky December 20, 2007

I was born on Tisha B'av, :'( Reply

Tzvi Freeman December 6, 2007

To Casey It depends on how you take it. You can celebrate the birthday as, "I'm here and I'm great! Everyone come and celebrate me!"

Or you can look at it as, "Now comes a time when I need to think: What difference does it make that I was born? Have I fulfilled the purpose of my creation?" Reply

Casey Cape Town, South Africa December 3, 2007

Birthdays I hope I am not going to put a dampner on things - but I hav just recently read to my horror that the holiest of all days in the satanic calander is the celebration of ones own birthday as it edifies and exhalts the ego of ones self which when you think of it is the exact opposite of what scripture and the Torah teaches us. We are taught in scripture to edify and exalt the G-d of Israel and to put others b4 ourselves but never to exalt ourselves as we do so often on our birthedays - how subtle and devicive is the evil one he has got just about everyone on the earth at least once a year to edify themselves-makes you think twice about this celebration - I know it did me. Reply

Alex Rollin Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada November 4, 2007

Chabad is beautiful thank-you for continuing the work of respecting the depth of Judaism while increasing accessibility for laymen like myself. Thank you! Reply

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