After dinner on the first Friday night after a baby boy is born, it is customary to invite friends and family to a “Sholom Zochor/ Shalom Zachar”. This is loosely translated as “a time for wishing peace to the male child.” The Sholom Zochor is usually held in the home of the newborn. Refreshments are served, divrei Torah are shared, and often songs are sung.
There are several explanations for the custom of sholom zochor:
• At the sholom zochor we offer thanks to G-d that the baby was born safe and sound.
• Talmudic literature tells us (Niddah 30b) that in the mother’s womb, a baby is taught the whole of Torah. As he is born he forgets all that he has learnt. Another explanation for the Sholom Zochor is connected to this – we come to console the child who has just forgotten all the Torah.
• According to kabbalah, a child is not ready to be circumcised until he has experienced a Shabbat. Judaism believes that Shabbat provides the infant with the spiritual power necessary to enter into a lasting covenant with God. This is one of the reasons why the brit is on the eight day, to ensure that a Shabbat passes. For this reason we make a special celebration on the Shabbat after the baby is born.
There is a custom to serve chickpeas or lentils at a Sholom Zochor, as they are round food and represent the cycle of life.