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Q&A: How Should I Celebrate My Birthday?

Q: My birthday is coming up. Is there anything special I should be doing on this day?

A: The Rebbes of Chabad instituted 10 birthday customs, as a recommendation of how one should celebrate his birthday. These 10 customs correspond to the sefirot as follows:

1. Chochmah (Wisdom) – Being called up to the Torah on the birthday (for men only). The Torah comes from chochmah.
2. Binah (Understanding) – Taking some time to be alone and to contemplate on one’s life — what you have and have not accomplished as yet and what positive things you would like to accomplish in the coming year.
3. Da’at (Knowledge) – Studying a Chassidic dissertation with friends. This should be done with a feeling of connection to the power of da’at in the Tree of Life.
4. Chesed (Lovingkindness) – Doing an act of lovingkindness for someone else.
5. Gevurah (Might) – Enhancing a particular detail in your mitzvah observance. Becoming more exacting in mitzvah observance stems from fear of Heaven, which is a trait of Gevurah.
6. Tiferet (Beauty) – Taking upon yourself an additional study item in both the revealed and concealed parts of the Torah. (This could be in the form of learning one halacha a day plus a short piece daily in a book of Chassidut.) Both the revealed and concealed parts of the Torah correspond to Tiferet.
7. Netzach (Eternity) – Reciting your new personal chapter of Psalms. (According to the Ba’al Shem Tov, every person has his personal chapter of Psalms, which is his age plus 1. The birthday is thus the first day of the new chapter. It corresponds to keeping up with the eternity (netzach) of time.)
8. Hod (Splendor) – Making a farbrengen – in which words of Torah are spoken, with family or friends.
9. Yesod (Foundation) – Giving additional charity. This is the attribute of yesod — positively influencing others, as the tzaddik, who is the yesod (foundation) of the world.
10. Malchut (Kingdom) – Prayer with special focused attention and reciting the entire book of Psalms. This corresponds to malchut, of which it is written in Psalms “…and I am prayer.”

Above these 10 customs is the Keter (Crown) of the birthday, special empowerment of the person’s mazal on this day.

Mazal tov!

Photo by Gaelle Marcel on Unsplash

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