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וַיִּגְדַּל הַיֶּלֶד וַיִּגָּמַל וַיַּעַשׂ אַבְרָהָם מִשְׁתֶּה גָדוֹל בְּיוֹם הִגָּמֵל אֶת־יִצְחָק׃

The child [Itzchak] grew up and was weaned, and Abraham held a great feast on the day that Isaac was weaned. (Rashi/B"R - 24 months) Ber. 21,8

Usually, we turn all of our forefather's behaviors into traditions even when they weren't commanded. But I don't recall throwing such a Seudah for my kids, neither participating in those of others'.

The Torah does not repeat that tradition for other descendants, but neither it mentions having circumcision, so we don't have a "one-time" claim.

Why this custom didn't make it into our tradition?

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According to one opinion in the Midrash (Bereishis Rabbah 53:10), we do.

וַיִּגְדַּל הַיֶּלֶד וַיִּגָּמַל (בראשית כא, ח), רַבִּי הוֹשַׁעְיָה רַבָּה אָמַר נִגְמַל מִיֵּצֶר הָרָע. רַבָּנָן אָמְרֵי נִגְמַל מֵחֲלָבוֹ.

”And the child grew up and was weaned” – R’ Hoshaya Rabbah said, “He was weaned from the evil inclination.” The Rabbis say, “He was weaned from his milk.

As Etz Yosef ad. loc. explains R’ Hoshaya’s opinion:

נגמל מיצר הרע פירוש שנעשה בן י"ג שנה שאז נגמל הנער מיצה"ר שהוא כח התאווה החומרית ונכנס בו כח היצר טוב. ולכן מאז הוא מצווה ועושה. ולשמחה זו עשה אברהם משתה:

”He was weaned from the evil inclination” – the explanation is that he became a 13-year-old, that then the lad was weaned from his evil inclination, which is the power of strong desire, and the good inclination entered into him. Therefore, from then he was “one who was commanded and does,” and for this joy Avraham made a feast.

As Chabad notes, while the Bar Mitzvah celebration is a fairly recent custom, some 400 years old, this Midrash seems to be a strong source for doing so.

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    Bar mitzvah=weaning parteyy – Dr. Shmuel Jun 17 at 11:46
  • Interesting, and to the second opinion, acc. to Rashi? The two views ARE incompatible, so the later has to be explained also I think. – Al Berko Jun 17 at 12:04
  • You know, many answers try to circumvent the question by offering an additional opinion that claims it wasn't so by some unnatural/non-literal explanation. But the question still stands acc. to the main question. – Al Berko Jun 17 at 12:09
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    Interestingly enough, I'm seeing a small trend in people making what they sometimes call a baby "vort". It's essentially the equivalent of a baby "shower". IMO, it seems as more of an opportunity to receive presents. – DanF Jun 17 at 17:03
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I once heard (do not remember from who) that this Seuda was to thank Hashem for the major miracle that happened to Sara who was 90 when she gave birth to Yitzchok. She has already gone through menopause and the miracle of giving birth and then being able to nurse was major.

Perhaps as we do not merit such a miracle, woman do not have children once they are that stage, therefore we do not make such a Seuda.

  • You're saying it was Saudas Hodayah, interesting, but, then, why wait and link it to Itzhack's weaning? – Al Berko Jun 17 at 12:03
  • @AlBerko bc nursing was miraculous as well – Double AA Jun 17 at 16:36
  • I remind you that Yokheved gave birth at 130 without a [explicit] miracle – Al Berko Jun 17 at 16:55
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Rashi states explicitly to Bereshit 21:8 that this was af the completion of the first 24 months of Yitzchok's life and as the Ikar Siftei Chachamim states, it coincided with Yitzchok no longer breast feeding from his mother, Sarah. Yitzchok began to consume wheat flour which is compared to Torah by Rabbi Elazar ben Azaryah like is found in Avot 3:17.

רַבִּי אֶלְעָזָר בֶּן עֲזַרְיָה אוֹמֵר, אִם אֵין תּוֹרָה, אֵין דֶּרֶךְ אֶרֶץ. אִם אֵין דֶּרֶךְ אֶרֶץ, אֵין תּוֹרָה. אִם אֵין חָכְמָה, אֵין יִרְאָה. אִם אֵין יִרְאָה, אֵין חָכְמָה. אִם אֵין בִּינָה, אֵין דַּעַת. אִם אֵין דַּעַת, אֵין בִּינָה. אִם אֵין קֶמַח, אֵין תּוֹרָה. אִם אֵין תּוֹרָה, אֵין קֶמַח.

So if you're looking for what celebration we actually do today that is associated with this, it would be the Upsherin, the first haircut given to a young Jewish boy after they enter their third year of life or as late as the completion of their 3rd birthday. At that time, the boy begins his formal Torah education and starts wearing tzitzit. See this Wikipedia page discussing the practice of Upsherin.

The difference in the two time ranges is to coincide with completing the 24 months like with Avraham, Sarah and Yitzchok, their son and the prohibition of Orlah, not benefitting from the fruit of Eretz Yisrael for the first 3 years.

Upsherin is practiced by many different Chassidic branches, Kabbalists following the teachings of the Ari z"l, and as noted in נטעי גבריאל - תגלחת הילדים הולכתם לחדר וסעודת החומש, Chapter 2, page 35, footnote 2, this is also the practice of some of the Jews of Yemen.

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    Can you better source that Upsherin is specifically for two year olds before their third birthday? I've never heard that before. Your link to Nitei Gavriel is very clear that the popular practice is not to cut the boys hair before 3 full years. But this is an interesting modern application of the OPs thought – Double AA Jun 17 at 16:42
  • See judaism.stackexchange.com/help/editing "If you see something that needs improvement, click edit! If you are not comfortable with the idea of your contributions being collaboratively edited by other trusted users, this may not be the site for you." Please return my constructive edits to your post, or make your own substantially similar ones to improve its readability and focus on addressing the question. Right now it is not clear which groups if any follow the minority practice of Upsherin at age two for this reason, and the discussion of groups for other traditions is distracting – Double AA Jun 17 at 18:08
  • If you mean like the edit changing my wording saying the minhag of the Jews of Yemen is to make the seudah for the upsherin to some of the Jews of Yemen, the citation I quoted is from Rav Tzalach who is one of the greatest poskim of the Teimani Jews who follow the Baladi practice like Rav Kapach. The other great path among the Teimani Jews is the Shami path of the Rashash zt”l. They follow the Ari. Are you suggesting there is some 3rd stream of practice among the the Teimani Jews? If so, please provide documentation. Your edit diminished the answer. – Yaacov Deane Jun 18 at 3:49
  • Most Baladi Jews don't have an Upsherin net-sah.org/en/node/34690 at least not in any European sense of the word maharitz.co.il/?CategoryID=292&ArticleID=4003 – Double AA Jun 18 at 11:36
  • @DoubleAA Do you ever read this material? It says exactly what I have stated. It does emphasize that the Teimani Jews don't learn it out from the Ashkenazim. No surprise because their tradition is older. It also mentions that in the current day, (like many Jewish communities around the world where people have forgotten what their customs are due to a lack of learning or other difficulties) some no longer practice this or don't make a seudah, etc. But the Teimani minhag is to make the upsherin with seudah between 24 and 36 months. And he even brings a quote from a posek after Maharitz. – Yaacov Deane Jun 18 at 16:32

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