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There is apparently a practice among contemporary Jews of giving out blessings on one's birthday. Is there any source for this in the Jewish tradition?

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  • I have heard two conflicting stories re birthdays. 1 - Since is commemorates the minute that the Torah was forgotten (midrash?) and the entry into the world of tum'ah and sin, it should not be celebrated. 2 - Since it commemorates the entry into Olam Ha'asiyah in which there is an opportunity to perform mitzvot and serve Hashem, then there is cause for celebration. – Epicentre Oct 27 '14 at 7:43
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R. Elazar of Kozhnitz is cited as finding an allusion to the idea that one receives power of blessing (requesting) on their birthday in the verse (Ps. 2:7-8):

אֲסַפְּרָ֗ה אֶֽ֫ל חֹ֥ק יְֽהוָ֗ה אָמַ֘ר אֵלַ֥י בְּנִ֥י אַ֑תָּה אֲ֝נִ֗י הַיּ֥וֹם יְלִדְתִּֽיךָ׃ שְׁאַ֤ל מִמֶּ֗נִּי וְאֶתְּנָ֣ה ג֭וֹיִם נַחֲלָתֶ֑ךָ וַ֝אֲחֻזָּתְךָ֗ אַפְסֵי־אָֽרֶץ׃

Let me tell of the decree: the LORD said to me, “You are My son, I have fathered you this day. Ask it of Me, and I will make the nations your domain; your estate, the limits of the earth.

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  • Who has sourced it so? – wfb Aug 8 '19 at 15:52
  • @wfb I get the whole “Please source it” thing but sometimes it’s ridiculous. Say nobody else says this and it’s my original theory, does that invalidate the source? – Oliver Aug 8 '19 at 16:38
  • @wfb Here, beg. §10. – Oliver Aug 8 '19 at 17:42
  • Good to know where something comes from. Some sources are more authoritative than others. – wfb Aug 8 '19 at 19:05
  • @wfb Granted, but regarding such a question - what makes R. Elazar of Koshnitz more authoritative than e.g. me, an anonymous character? It’s not exactly a legal question interpreting or applying a halachah. Do the quoted psukim lend credence to this notion or not? If not, just bec. I found a name who says the same thing doesn’t ipso facto make the notion more/less true, unlike a legal question where quoting a halachaik authority adds support. – Oliver Aug 8 '19 at 19:19
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I don't know if there's a real mekor (source) for this custom, though those who do, do so based on the face that one's Mazel is empowered on one's birthday.

See Korban Haedah, Yerushalmi Rosh Hashanah 3:8; Chida, Chomas Anach, Iyov 3.

Interestingly, Ohr.edu quotes that the Tiferes Yisrael (Iggeret Tiferet Yisrael 6, Sefer Mayim HaHalacha) "instructed his children that when one of them has a birthday the others should visit and bless him."

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Rav Chaim Kanievsky shlita recently celebrated his 93 birthday K"H. He reportedly told people not to wish him a happy birthday becuase " Pharaoh is the only one in Tanach who celebrated a birthday"

I also heard this in person from Rav Neventzal shlita.

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It would seem according to JT Rosh ha-Shanah 3:8 that this custom is traced to Amalek! Does that sit well with anyone?

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  • Doesn't say anything there about blessings. Besides, does the fact that Amalek did something automatically invalidate it? They ate and drank and spoke and so forth too... – Meir Jan 5 at 16:57
  • You should summarize what the gemara says and show how it relates to the question. – sabbahillel Jan 5 at 17:33
  • “Rabbi Yehoshu’a son of Levi said: Amalek was a sorcerer. What would he do? He would position people [for battle] on their birthday festival, saying, ‘A man does not soon fall on his birthday festival.’ What did Moses do? He mixed up the planets, as is written, Sun and moon stand still at the zenith (Habakkuk 3:11). And it is written, The deep sends forth its voice, raises its hand high (ibid., 10)—[Israel] raises his hand high; the deep sends forth [Amalek’s] voice” (JT Rosh ha-Shanah 3:8, 17b–18a). Why would we do like Amalek? – www.thenutgarden.wordpress.com Jan 6 at 18:40
  • Also, it is know from BT Shabbat 156a–b: “Rabbi Ḥanina said to [his disciples]: Go and tell the son of Levi, it is not the מַזָּל (mazzal), constellation, of the day that is the influence but the constellation of the hour that is the influence.” – www.thenutgarden.wordpress.com Jan 6 at 18:42

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