Many cultures are loaded with superstitions covering just about any subject and Judaism is no exception. Many of our Jewish superstitions revolve around warding off evil spirits by saying pooh, pooh, pooh, knocking on wood, pulling on our ear, putting salt in the corners of a room or closing an open book. One of my personal favorite superstitions (true story) were the times my mother would make me chew on thread while sewing a button on clothing that I was wearing and was in too much of a hurry to remove. The thought was that chewing on thread would prevent her from sewing up my brains!
A host of superstitions revolve around Jewish babies; their names, and the infamous baby shower.
It’s true that in many Jewish communities, baby showers are frowned upon. Many Jews avoid baby showers (and even avoid purchasing clothes or furniture for the baby before the baby is born) out of fear that bringing attention to an unborn baby might cause something bad to happen to the baby or the mother. This superstition stems from the notion of the evil eye or ayin hara. In the Mishnah, a person with ayin hara is someone who cannot be happy for another’s good fortune, and in fact is distressed and angry when good things happen to his or her friends. This person’s gaze is considered dangerous, because he or she would prefer that others not enjoy good things, and might somehow cause misfortune to others via a malicious look.
Still, it’s important to remember that this is a superstitious tradition, and not Jewish law. According to halacha (Jewish law), there is nothing wrong with a couple enjoying a baby shower with all the trimmings!
So, whether you welcome gifts into your home before or after your little one arrives, here are some of our favorite Jewish baby gifts.