The Hachansas Lecheder ceremony-Its source and significance

The Hachansas Lecheder ceremony-Its source and significance:

One of the great milestones for a parent and child is the formal start of the child’s education in a Talmud Torah, where he will learn Torah and Mitzvos. The induction of the child into the Torah academy is escorted with various customs and ceremonial practices which is customarily referred to in Yiddish as the Areinfirinish, or in Hebrew as Hachnasas Lecheder. The Hachanasas Lecheder ceremony is an Ashkenazi tradition, first recorded in the early Ashkenazi Rishonim which include: Machzor Vitri[1] [1200’s], Rokeaich[2] [1200’s]; Ravayah; Orchos Chaim[3]  [1300’s]; Kol Bo[4] [1400’s]. They were later recorded in the following Poskim: Chok Yaakov[5]; Elya Raba[6]; Migdal Oz of Yaavetz[7]. This custom dates back prior to the above Rishonim, and was accustomed by the elders of Jerusalem.[8] For whatever reason, this custom became nearly extinct as the generations went on, as testified by the Poskim.[9] However, in recent generations, with the rising of the Chassidic movement, it once again returned to practice, and is followed today by Chassidim world over. As the Poskim[10] record, those communities accustomed to perform the Hachnasas Lecheder ceremony may not swerve from it.  

The greatness of the custom:[11]

The Rishonim[12] record that the start of a child’s Torah education is similar to the Jewish people’s entrance to the covenant at Har Sinai, and hence, we follow various customs similar to that which occurred on Har Sinai when we first received the Torah. It is also considered similar to Akeidas Yitzchak, as Hashem considered the child’s induction into Torah learning as if his blood was offered on the altar.[13] The ceremony is done to ensure the purity of the child and help penetrate within him an initial love of Hashem and Torah, and lead him to become a G-d fearing Jew who is educated in Torah knowledge in a proper manner.[14] The Yaavetz[15] stated regarding the importance of this custom that it is what merited people in the previous generations to have children who are G-d fearing Torah learners, who studied the Torah Leshma, and reached levels close to prophecy. However, today that this custom has ceased, there is no wonder why most children never become true Torah scholars and leaders, as the foundation of the Torah learning is based on ego and self-respect and honor, and not done out of the purity of serving Hashem.  


[1] 508

[2] 296

[3] 2/3

[4] 74

[5] 494/1

[6] 494/3

[7] Birchas Givon 1

[8] Kol Bo ibid

[9] Shach Y.D. 245:8 “The above-mentioned customs are no longer accustomed, although in areas where this custom has been accepted, it is not to be swerved from.”; Kol Bo ibid “Even today there are some places who still follow this custom”

[10] Rokeiach ibid; Shach ibid

[11] Shevach Habris p. 137

[12] Machzor Vitri ibid “It is considered as if the child was brought to Har Sinai” and he hence enumerates various customs to be followed based on the occurrences at Har Sinai; Kol Bo ibid; Elya Raba ibid

[13] Machzor Vitri ibid; See Zohar 3:164

[14] Migdal Oz ibid

[15] Migdal Oz ibid

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