The Jewish Eye
The Simchah Handbook
The Simchah Handbook
By Rabbi David Weinberger
ArtScroll Series - Mesorah Publications, New York: 2008
ISBN 10: 1-4226-0639-2
ISBN 13: 978-1-4226-0639-1
Reviewed by Anna Dogole - July 7, 2008
The Simchah Handbook is a handy prayerbook that contains prayers for the many joyous events that permeate the Jewish life-cycle from the marriage service and the Pidyon HaBen (Redeeming a Firstborn Son) to the Bar / Bas Mitzvah ceremony and Siyum VeHachnasas Sefer Torah (Completing and Presenting a Sefer Torah). In addition to containing the text of these festive prayers, this handbook also includes information on the various celebrations, tips on enhancing any Simchos, and advice on how a guest should behave when invited to such an event.
The Simchah Handbook is a deceptively small book, measuring only 5" x 7", yet within it pages you will find a wealth of information, as well as essential prayers, that will enliven you next Simchah and enlighten you about important aspects of the celebrations. Best of all, it will help prevent you from overlooking any important aspect of the celebration! In addition, this is a very attractive book. It has a white, hardcovered surface that is embossed and highlighted with gold lettering. For anyone seeking a handy reference on the various Simchos, The Simchah Handbook is sure to meet your needs.
In writing this handbook, Rabbi David Weinberger has taken pains to not only cover the 'basics' of each event, but also to explain the purpose and meaning of the various prayers and celebrations. Throughout, the prayers are presented in vowelized Hebrew, with an English translation on the facing page. Explanatory information is offered solely in English. The text is divided into twelve chapters:
- Marriage: this section not only contains the text of the marriage ceremony itself, but also offers concise advice on everything involved in making a wedding from the need to take Chassan and Kallah classes to preparing the Chuppah. A short form is also included in which you can list the honorees at the wedding.
- Sheva Berachos: chapter two deals with the seven days of celebration that follow the wedding, and the Sheva Berachos that are recited after meals and the other blessing that are said at celebratory meals.
- Shadchanus: chronologically speaking this chapter is a little out of order as it deals with the matchmaking process. While there are no prayers associated with this topic, Rabbi Weinberger does provide 13 handy tips that will help the process run much more smoothly!
- Chapter four briefly covers those unique aspects that pertain to a second marriage.
- Next, this handbook moves on to Birth and the attending hospital stay, and provides a wealth of information such as Berachos for the birth, prayers when going into labor, advice on caring for a newborn on Shabbos, dealing for prayers and fast days in a hospital setting, and obligations in relationship to the various Yom Tovs that might occur during the hospital stay.
- Aptly, the next chapter covers the naming a the child.
- And, then it is on to the Bris Milah (circumcision). A chart for filling in the names of the Honorees at the Bris is included.
- Chapter eight deals with the Pidyon haBen, as well as with the various exemptions that negate the need for the Pidyon haBen to be carried out.
- Upsherin / Chalakah - the celebration and customs surrounding a young boys first haircut on the occasion of his third birthday are discussed in chapter nine.
- The Bar and Bas Mitzvah is covered in the next chapter, and includes both the prayers associated with a Bar Mitzvah as well as 42 tips and general information about Bar and Bas Mitzvos.
- Siyum, the prayers associated with completing the study of a Talmudic tractate or an order of Mishnah are covered in chapter eleven.
- Chapter twelve deals with the Siyum VeHachnasas Sefer Torah.
- Lastly, chapter thirteen deals with Chanukas HaBayis (Inaugurating a Home).
- A list of sources cited in the Handbook is also included.
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