A Pregnant Year

By Ariela Sharon Yomtovian with Katie Rice-Guter

Katie Rice-Guter is a writer and editor based in St. Louis, MO. Find her on Instagram at @katiericeguter.

Every few years, the Jewish calendar is blessed with an extra month. We call this a shanah me’uberet, literally “a pregnant year.” It’s a perfect time to dive into the Jewish wisdom on pregnancy and birth!

It’s likely that those in your Well Circle will have different perspectives on this content, especially in cases of fertility challenges, unwanted pregnancy, or pregnancy loss. I believe that we all draw on the creative spirit in our lives, and that giving birth to an idea or a relationship is in many ways similar to giving birth to a human being. I hope the teachings below will support you and help you connect with gratitude for any creation process you’re in the midst of.

One of my great teachers when it comes to pregnancy and birth is Rebbe Nachman of Breslov, a Polish rabbi from the early 1800s who popularized Jewish mysticism and emphasized having a close personal relationship with G-d.

You might not think that a cis-male sage would have deep insight to offer on these matters. But during my own pregnancy, and for my pregnant clients, I’ve found such resonant meaning in Rebbe Nachman’s writings — especially his great work, Likutei Moharan.

A classic approach for rabbis like Rebbe Nachman is to look for hidden meanings in Hebrew words that share the same letters. They are understood to be tied together.

Here’s a powerful example: the words Le’TODaH (to give thanks) and TOLaDaH (birth). From this he deduces that thanksgiving, praise, is connected to birth (Likutei Moharan, Part II 5:3:2).

In fact, it is traditional for a birthing person to proclaim Psalm 100, called the Psalm for Praise, during the final stage of birthing the baby, while pushing, or however else the final stage of birth unfolds for you. (Psalms are spiritual verses said to be written by King David. You’ll find the full text of Psalm 100 below.)

This ecstatic psalm, with language like “worship the LORD with gladness,” is said while the work of birth is still ongoing — not (as you might fairly imagine) once the baby has arrived.

Isn’t that remarkable? The gratitude comes before the arrival.

For someone giving birth with planned or unplanned medical interventions, Psalm 100 could be recited during the medical preparations — or just held as comfort that, even in the midst of uncertainty and unfolding, there is a place for gratitude.

Psalm 100

1. Raise a shout for the LORD, all the earth;

2. worship the LORD with gladness;

come into His presence with shouts of joy.

3. Acknowledge that the LORD is G-d;

He made us, and we are His,

His people, the flock He tends..

4. Enter His gates with praise,

His courts with acclamation.

Praise Him!

Bless His name!

5. For the LORD is good;

His steadfast love is eternal;

His faithfulness is for all generations.

(א) מִזְמ֥וֹר לְתוֹדָ֑ה הָרִ֥יעוּ לַ֝יהוָ֗ה כָּל־הָאָֽרֶץ׃ (ב) עִבְד֣וּ אֶת־יְהוָ֣ה בְּשִׂמְחָ֑ה בֹּ֥אוּ לְ֝פָנָ֗יו בִּרְנָנָֽה׃ (ג) דְּע֗וּ כִּֽי־יְהוָה֮ ה֤וּא אֱלֹ֫הִ֥ים הֽוּא־עָ֭שָׂנוּ ולא [וְל֣וֹ] אֲנַ֑חְנוּ עַ֝מּ֗וֹ וְצֹ֣אן מַרְעִיתֽוֹ׃ (ד) בֹּ֤אוּ שְׁעָרָ֨יו ׀ בְּתוֹדָ֗ה חֲצֵרֹתָ֥יו בִּתְהִלָּ֑ה הֽוֹדוּ־ל֝֗וֹ בָּרֲכ֥וּ שְׁמֽוֹ׃ (ה) כִּי־ט֣וֹב יְ֭הֹוָה לְעוֹלָ֣ם חַסְדּ֑וֹ וְעַד־דֹּ֥ר וָ֝דֹ֗ר אֱמוּנָתֽוֹ׃

Interestingly, just as birthing is envisioned as a time of thanksgiving, so is the World to Come. Here is what Rebbe Nachman has to say:

“...[T]he essence of the World to Come is thanking and praising G-d. For the more we know and acknowledge God, the nearer we are to G-d.”


In the time of moshiach, the time of redemption, there will be no more aching and longing. Instead, gratitude will be our mode. It sounds like a time of being very anchored in the present moment, not looking toward past disappointments or future expectations.

Likewise, Jewish wisdom teaches us that being pregnant is separate from giving birth.  We use the words mazel tov to celebrate a new baby. But when we want to congratulate someone on a pregnancy, it’s traditional to say b’sha’ah tovah (literally “good time”), as in, may it all unfold well and at the proper time.

Pregnancy is an exciting season, but uncertain as well, and we are taught to hold it as valuable in and of itself, and to enjoy it as a special part of life, not simply a gateway to something else.

Let’s Discuss:

  • How do you cultivate gratitude in your life?
  • What does it mean, to you, to know G-d?
  • What might be the relationship between knowing G-d and gratitude?
  • Have you ever given thanks in the midst of creation, when the outcome was still unknown? What do you think that would feel like?

A Pregnant Year
Ariela Sharon Yomtovian
Ariela Sharon Yomtovian

Ariela Sharon Yomtovian lives in Pardes Chana, Israel, and has been a Jewish Educator and Spiritual Childbirth Educator for the past 8 years. In addition to one-on-one learning services, she offers workshops on Jewish Wellness and Birth Torah. Ariela is passionate about elevating the Divine Feminine Energy of this world so that we can bring peace, love and moshiach. For more learning about the sacredness of birth, follow her on Instagram at @olam_mama.

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