A Child Is Born
According to Judaism, a child's soul exists prior to its birth, but its life begins at the time of birth — more specifically, when the child is halfway emerged from the womb. The new soul that enters the world is considered to be pure and chaste. The concept of original sin is foreign to Judaism. Of course, the Jews recognize that people commit sins as the years go by, but they believe that humans begin their lives with a clean slate.
After giving birth, a woman is considered niddah (see Chapter 6). She and her husband must abstain from sexual relations for seven days if she had a male child and fourteen days if the child is a girl (Leviticus 12:2). During the time of the Temple, the periods of abstinence were forty days and eighty days for a baby boy and girl, respectively.
After the birth of a child, the father is given an aliyah (the honor of making a blessing over the Torah). A blessing is recited at that time for the health of the new mother and baby. As we shall see, this may also be an occasion when a baby girl is named.