Reviewed by Rabbi BZ Karman
Pregnancy is a time buoyed with happiness yet fraught with worry. As the ‘soon to be’ parents prepare for their family addition, there are countless issues which require their attention daily. Certainly, many of these involve halachos and hanhogos which requires knowledge of areas spanning a vast array of sifrei kodesh. Eis Laledes is a compilation of innumerable pertinent topics that clarifies how to handle these matters, and indeed illuminates the experience of childbirth for the scholar and layman alike.
This sefer, which comprises over 430 pages, is well organized in the chronological order of the life of the baby, from conception through the first year of a baby’s life. It begins by stating the need of the parents to daven for the child, and immediately discusses what types of tefilos are warranted. A compilation of various accepted tefilos are printed in perek 11, where the mechaber brings the sources for the advantage of davening for the child, along with several well-known tefilos for various times of the pregnancy that are printed in seforim.
The halachos concerning taking vitamins and medicines, both on Shabbos and during the weekdays, are discussed at length at the beginning of the sefer. Reviewing these significant dinim and their application gives a ‘heads up’ as to what can transpire, and will enable the expectant parents to be knowledgeable about what can, should and should not be done in each of these circumstances. Numerous possible scenarios are discussed, and well-sourced foot notes allow the learner to research each case before consulting a moreh horaah for a ruling.
An interesting unit of the sefer discusses halachos concerning these nine months according to the yearly progression of the chodshei hashanah. Included in this section is the din of blowing shofar for a woman who is restricted to bed rest, kaparos, fasting on Yom Kippur, machtzis hashekel before Purim, eating and drinking the requirements by the seder on Pesach, and her observance of Tisha B’av. For each zman, there is a discussion of many possible scenarios which may arise, and the various shitos as to how one must conduct themselves. A quick perusal of these chapters will help familiarize the learner with the possible questions that may arise, and to be aware of the various issues involved.
In perek 2 and perek 3, the mechaber discusses at length the many common shailos pertaining to medical issues which arise during pregnancy. From the knowledge displayed by the author concerning these complex procedures, it is obvious that he did an incredible amount of research in preparing these units. In the next perek, the halachos of the days right before childbirth and the delivery itself are discussed, once again showing the author’s mastery of both the halachos and the medical issues.
An interesting concept mentioned (5:5) is that when a husband accompanies his wife to labor and delivery and his assistance is needed, he is considered an oseik bemitzvah, someone who is involved in a mitzvah, and is therefore exempt from other mitzvos. Therefore, even if he wishes to perform a mitzvah which is at hand (in a way which will not cause her distress), nevertheless he should not say a brachah on it, since technically he is exempt from the mitzvah. In addition, if he missed the zman for tefilah while attending to her, he is not obligated to daven a tefilas tashlumin.
A special section deals with hospital stays with relation to anyone. The author shared with me that when a relative of his was forced to remain in the hospital for an extended period of time, he spent much time at his side, and became familiar with the common shailos which a patient and visitor may face during these times. As a result, perek 7 discusses in detail many scenarios that can come up during hospital stays, which is relevant both for childbirth as well as for other hospital stays as well.
The last few sections deal with the days and weeks after childbirth, as perek 9 includes many interesting halachos and hanhagos concerning naming the baby. The various minhagim are listed, with well sourced footnotes which will allow the learner to research what his custom may be, or to present to his moreh derech the diverse possibilities before deciding. Perek 10, the section on caring for the infant, completes this section.
A special sub-section, titled Kuntres Imrei Shir, is an in-depth analysis of several inyonim which the mechaber came across while writing Eis Laledes. When he did not find any extensive discussion of these issues, he committed his own ideas to writing, and appended it to the sefer. In addition, a thorough index, which allows the quick reference of any topic, is included.
The mechaber, Rabbi Eli Biegeleisen, was a talmid of the Yeshiva of Philadelphia and Yeshiva of Long Beach, and then learned in Yerushalayim by Rav Dovid Soloveichik in Brisk, as well as Yeshivas Mir. He continued his learning in Bais Medrash Govoha, and after his marriage while studying Halacha Sugyos he did shimush under Rav Dovid Potash, Rosh Beis Horaah Shvilei Horaah in Eretz Yisroel.
While preparing the sefer, Rabbi Beigleisen consulted with many leading poskim both in Eretz Yisroel as well as in the United States. In this sefer he was privileged to include many shailos clarified by Rav Shmuel Felder of Lakewood, one of those who wrote a warm haskamah.
Several times during the course of writing Eis Laledes, he was urged by poskim to seek out the psak of his illustrious uncle, Rav Chaim Yisroel Belsky zt”l. At the time, Rav Belsky was still recuperating from his near fatal illness, and the mechaber did not want to over burden him. Nevertheless, he did visit with his uncle, and despite his weakness, Rav Belsky clarified for him many shailos, quoting precise sources for each psak. In addition, he perused through various inyanim in the sefer, and with his renowned expertise offered his own comments on the discussions contained therein. These ha’aros were also incorporated into the sefer
For those who are awaiting the joyous arrival of a child, or any talmid chochom who wishes to delve into the inyonim of childbirth and its related topics, Eis Laledes is a sefer will be of great benefit.