Language of Benching

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Hi
When we bless our children in bircat hamazon, we say “זרעי”– literally “my seed.” Is that really appropriate for a woman to say? Clearly this language was formulated for men who their children are really their seed. For women, is there no other term for offspring?

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Asked on November 13, 2020 11:05 am
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The Hebrew word zera is sometimes used specifically to refer to a man’s seed (though Va-Yikra 12:2 may be an exception). When it means offspring, however, it can apply to women as well as men. The Biblical Channa supplies one prooftext for this, Shemuel I 1:11, when she asks God to “give to your handmaiden zera anashim [male offspring].” For this reason, a woman asking God to bless “zar’i” in benching is referring appropriately to her offspring, as Channa did.

In his discussion of mishlo'ach manot, Rav ya'akov Emden writes as follows (She'elat Ya'avetz 120):

To me it seems that this is a true and straight law. Should it be that everywhere that “ish” is written it is to exclude the woman?…Furthermore, here it is written that the “Jews enacted and accepted [the laws] upon themselves and upon their progeny” and a woman is included without a doubt as everywhere that “zera” [progeny] is written, it connotes males and females…

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Answered on November 13, 2020 11:07 am