The Baby’s First Shabbat
It is customary to make a party or get-together for friends and family on the first Friday night after a baby boy is born. This is called a Shalom Zachar, loosely translated as “a time for wishing peace to the male child.”
The Shalom Zachar is usually held in the home of the newborn, following the Shabbat meal. Refreshments are served and words of Torah are shared. This gathering is used an opportunity to publicly thank G-d for the baby’s successful entrance into the world. The gathering also celebrates the newborn’s first Shabbat, since the baby must experience the sanctity of Shabbat before he can be circumcised.
In addition, the Midrash relates that a child is taught Torah in the womb, and then forgets it at birth in order that he toil to learn it again. The Shalom Zachar is meant as a consolation of sorts for having forgotten the Torah. For this reason many people serve beans or chickpeas at the Shalom Zachar, since these are foods served at the house of a mourner.
As the gathering takes place on Shabbat, it is necessary to take care that all food and drinks be prepared prior to the onset of Shabbat.