I once read in Artscroll’s "Mourning in Halacha" something like "a baby boy born in avelus is like a stone to repair gap in an archway", but I no longer have this sefer. Does anyone know where this comes from and what the actual quote is?


2 Answers 2


Your recollection appears on page 243, footnote 13 of Artscroll’s Mourning in Halacha. It quotes Hagahos Yad Shaul who is rejecting a teaching from the Rokeach saying one should not make a celebration and feast for a Brit Milah for a son born to him if he is still in Shloshim.

He says one should make the seudat mitzvah and bases this on the saying of the Sages, “When a boy is born; the whole family is healed.” It does not give textual source for this saying.

However, Metzudat David to Shmuel-1 4:20:2 gives the source of this teaching as Yerushalmi Moed Katan 3:7 (18a) which says:

דאמר רבי יוחנן כל שבעה החרב שלופה עד שלשי' היא רופפת לאחר שנים עשר חדש היא חוזרת לתערה למה הדבר דומה לכיפה של אבנים כיון שנתרערעה אחת מהן נתרערעו כולן. ואמר רבי לעזר אם נולד בן זכר באותה המשפחה נתרפאת כל אותה המשפחה.

That Rabbi Yochanan says the sword is unsheathed all seven (days). Up until thirty (days), it is softened. After twelve moths, it returns to the scabbard. What is the thing similar to? (It is similar) to a dome built of stones. Since one of them is diminished, all of them are diminished. And Rebbe (Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi) said trying to help, if a male child is born in the family, the entire family is healed.

The allegory of the family experiencing the mourning being compared to a dome made of stones (כיפה של אבנים) suggests according to the natural order of things that the senior family member would be the one passing away. That individual would be compared to the keystone in a masonry dome. It locks the entire structure together and enables the cohesive strength of the whole dome. When the single keystone is removed, the whole dome becomes unstable.

But Rebbe adds that if a male child (בן like אבן) is born to the mourning family during that year, then the missing stone is replaced and the structure is made strong and whole again.

It is also worth noting the choice of structure in the allegory, a dome (כיפה). This alludes to the traditional Jewish headcovering (yalmuke) which all Jewish males are required to wear. In context, it would be a sign of one who accepts the authority of the Oral Torah, the continuous oral tradition transmitted via the Talmud which ties us all together.

The Seudat Mitzvah being referred to is the informal Shalom Zachar meal made in the home of the parents on the first Friday night (or the Brit Yitzchok meal made among Sephardi Jews the evening before the Brit) following the birth like is mentioned by the Rema in Yoreh De'ah 265:12. As found in the Wikipedia heading quoting the Taz to Yoreh De'ah 265:13 citing Niddah 30b

...while a baby develops within the womb, "he is taught the entire Torah. However, as soon as he enters the air of this world, an angel comes and strikes him on his mouth, causing him to forget the entire Torah". Because the baby forgot all the Torah he learned, he is likened to a mourner. Just as people visit a mourner in his home to comfort him during the mourning period, people visit the home of the newborn to console him for the Torah he has forgotten.


The Shulchan Aruch YD 394:4 writes what you wrote that a son born into the family is a good thing.

כל שלשה ימים יראה האבל כאילו חרב מונחת לו בין כתפיו משלשה ועד שבעה כאילו זקוף כנגדו בקרן זוית משבעה ועד שלשים כאלו עובר לפניו בשוק וכל אותה השנה הדין מתוחה כנגד אותה משפחה ואם נולד בן זכר באותה משפחה נתרפאת כל המשפחה

Bold: And if a a baby boy is born in the [mourning] family, the entire family is healed.

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