Ceremonies for Woman in Labor and Confinement

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Ceremonies for Woman in Labor and Confinement

Paul Christian Kirchner
Jüdisches Ceremoniel, oder, Beschreibung dererjenigen Gebräuche
The engraving depicts events related to the first week in the life of a new Jewish male baby in early 18th c. Germany
Nürnberg: Verlegts Peter Conrad Monath, 1724
Engraving depicts the first week in the life of a new Jewish male baby in early 18th century Germany in three panels

The top panel shows two episodes at the actual time of childbirth: at left, the husband (marked with the letter a), the rabbi (b) and other figures are standing outside the room where the baby is going to be delivered, holding open books and reciting biblical passages believed to assist the safe delivery of the baby (e.g., Isaiah 54). At right is the interior of the "birthing room" - a room in the house where the delivery takes place: the birthing woman had been move from her bed to the special delivery chair, while four women or midwives support and assist her. On the table at left is a Torah scroll (labeled c), which was brought from the Torah ark in the synagogue - in the belief that its holiness may protect the woman. On the wall are written several magic inscriptions in Hebrew - including the names of the three angels, who are supposed to ward off Lilith - the demon who is believed to kill babies at birth.

Credit: Library at the Herbert D. Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies, University of Pennsylvania (More bibliographic information)