- Question: [Thursday, 2nd Adar, 5783]
I read in the Shulchan Aruch that the Mohel [or some other person] places the wine in the mouth of the baby when the words “Bedamayich Chayi” are recited that he should make the form of the name Shakaiy with his fingers at the time that he places the wine in the baby’s mouth. I’ve tried to pay attention to see if Mohalim do this and have not recognized that this is being done. Please clarify.
There are different ways in how this can be done using one’s fingers, some of which are not so noticeable to the onlooker, as explained below. The following are the different ways of doing so, and some Mohalim do all possible methods:
- With one’s fingers forming the name Shakaiy, with the thumb forming the Yud and the finger next to it being used for the dipping in the mouth.
- With one’s fingers forming the name Shakaiy, with the thumb forming the Daled and the pinky being used for the dipping in the mouth.
- Figuratively writing the letters of Shakaiy within the mouth of the child.
- Thinking the name Shakaiy when placing the finger into the mouth of the child.
Explanation: The Rishonim, as brought in the Shulchan Aruch, record the custom to place wine into the baby’s mouth when the words “Bedamayich Chayi” are recited. The Beis Yosef records that he heard that it is customary to make the form of a Shin upon doing so. Now, there are three different ways recorded in the Poskim regarding how this can be performed. The first two methods involve mimicking the letters Shin, Daled, and Yud with one’s fingers, by having one of the outer fingers fold in the shape of a Daled, and another finger in the shape of a Yud, and three fingers slightly fold and act as the Shin. [However, it is a dispute as to which of the fingers are to perform the letters Yud, Shin, and Daled. Some say that the thumb should form the Yud and the one next to it which is called the Etzba forms the Daled and is the finger that enters the wine to the mouth, and the three last fingers form the Shin. However, some say a totally different order, that the thumb forms the Daled, and the three middle fingers form the Shin, and the Zeres/pinky forms the Yud and enters the wine into the baby’s mouth. Practically, some conclude that one is to do both methods, and hence dip his finger twice into the baby’s mouth.] However, there is a third opinion and method which exists that understands the intent of the above statement completely differently. In their understanding, the intent is not that one should mimic the name Shadaiy with one’s fingers, but rather that one should move one’s wine dipped finger inside the mouth of the child, in the motions of writing the letters Shin Daled and Yud. A possible fourth opinion that is recorded is for the Mohel to think of the name Shakaiy in his mind while placing the wine into the baby’s mouth.
Sources: See regarding the general law of placing the wind in the baby’s mouth: Michaber Y.D. 265:2; Admur O.C. 621:5; Abudarham; See regarding making the form of the name Shakaiy when placing the wine in the mouth: Taz 265:6; Beis Yosef 265 that so he heard; Derisha 265:3; Beir Hagoleh 265:6; See regarding the various opinions of how this is to be done: Mishmeres Shalom Kudinav 18:19; Bris Avos 7:29; Otzer Habris 3:15-23; Zocher Habris 23:14; Shevach Habris p. 81; Etzba is Daled and Thumb is Yud: Yaavetz in Migdal Oz Nachal Hasiri 1:3; Chasdei Avos Parshas Lech Licha; Yad Ketana; Thumb is Daled and Zeres is Yud: Zechor Leavraham Erech Mila; Shulchan Gavoa 265:3; Machshirei Mila 5:32; Zechor David 1:71; Bris Avos 7:29; Otzer Habris 3:15-23; Make form of Shakaiy in mouth of baby: Derech Pikudecha Mila 24; Sefer Habris 265:54; Think of name Shakaiy: Chasam Sofer Y.D. 327