After the Termination of a Pregnancy

Through prayer and ritual during the month after the termination, the parents work through lingering feelings of guilt and sorrow.

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You, who see the unformed substance, who knows each person made in secret,

Hide him under the shadow of your wings.

Be gracious to us both.

I cannot bring him back.

One day I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me.

I have been into the wilderness alone, too distraught to eat or drink,

Not able to notice the life-giving sources around me.

I have made my journey, have touched Sheol,

Been buffeted by the strong winds of my emotions, and the earthquakes of my soul,

And now I know the voice of slender silence asks me, "What am I doing here now?"

David arose and comforted Bathsheba.

I now comfort others and am comforted by them.

And I ask you, in the words of the psalmist:

Let me be "like a tree planted by the rivers of water,

That brings forth its fruit in its season;

Its leaf also shall not wither; and whatever it does shall prosper." (Quotations are from Psalms 30 and 1:3.)

God, the soul you gave to my child was pure, for You created it,

You formed it, and breathed it into the body.

You care for the soul forever, taking it to everlasting life.

The Next Rosh Chodesh

On the Rosh Chodesh [first day of the new month] following the 30-day marker, it is recommended that the mother immerse herself in the mikveh [ritual pool], and recite Psalm 51.

Be kind to me, God, in Your mercy, in Your great compassion blot out my misdeeds.

Wash me free from my guilt and cleanse me from my sin.

For my misdeeds I know too well, and my sin is always before me.

Against You, You only, have I sinned, and done what is evil in Your sight.

Therefore You are just in Your sentence, and right in your judgment

But even though I was born to err, and my mother conceived me in sin;

The truth is still what You desire within me,

And in my inmost heart You show me wisdom.

Purify me with hyssop, and I shall be clean,

Wash me and I shall be whiter than snow.

Let me hear joy and gladness, so that the bones You crushed dance again.

Turn Your gaze away from my sins, and blot out all my guilt.

Create a pure heart for me, God, and put a firm and steadfast spirit in me.

Do not cast me away from Your presence, nor take Your holy spirit from me.

Give me back the joy of Your salvation and let a willing spirit uphold me.

Then I will teach transgressors the way, so that sinners may return to You.

Keep me from bloodshed, God, You are the God who saves me.

My tongue shall ring out Your justice,

God, open my lips and my mouth shall declare Your praise.

For You desire no sacrifice, or I would give it,

burned offerings you do not want.

God's sacrifices are a humbled spirit;

a broken and contrite heart you will not despise.

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Rabbi Sylvia Rothschild

Rabbi Sylvia Rothschild is a rabbi at Wimbledon & District Synagogue in London, England.