Doesn’t it say if a daughter’s born first it’s a good sign for children (see Bava Basra 141a)? So why is it that when there’s a bechor we’re especially happy?
And the answer is that when you have a daughter first it means you’re going to have an assistant to your wife in bringing up children. A big daughter is a big benefit in the house. A mother who has to manage a big family, she can’t do a perfect job on her own. Did you ever see a little girl of seven years old, with a little brother three years old; he’s struggling and fighting against her – they have to cross the street and he wants to stop in the middle of the street; so she picks him up with motherly love and she carries him across Ocean Parkway. That’s a picture! I’ve seen that.
Where does she get that? A little girl has responsibility for her little brother; she is seven and he is three. She picks him up and carries him across the street to safety. That’s instinct in a little girl. And she helps to mother all the children after her. It’s a blessing to have an older daughter.
But still it’s a bigger blessing to have an older son. Both are blessings but a bechor is a very great privilege because suppose you have to plow; your daughter is not going to plow for you. A big son will take hold of the plow as your hands are getting a little shaky from old age; he’ll take over the plow and plow with you. He’ll manage your business; whatever it is, an oldest son is a great blessing in the house.
In the olden days, when people lived by themselves out in the country, and the enemies, marauders, used to come to fall upon isolated homes. So let’s say he banged on your door – “Open up!” he said. He thought it’s a cinch; a couple of old people in here; he’ll rob and do whatever he wants. So you open up the door and a stream of young fellows come out; sons! And each one is carrying a hack or a saw or a hammer. Bang! Bang! Bye bye robbers.
It’s like in Williamsburg where everyone has ten children, twelve children. So when a bum comes along and makes trouble, somebody says “Chaptzem!” and the doors open up and a stream of humanity comes pouring out. And they send him to the hospital; not to the police station – they send him to the hospital.
But in Bensonhurst, in the old worn out neighborhoods where Jews only had two children or they had no children at all, so when a bum comes to make trouble there’s nobody to come out. An old man comes out, he can’t do anything. There are no children. It’s children that save the family. It’s children that save the population. Children save a neighborhood.
And therefore when it starts out with a son, he’s going to take over right away and therefore it’s a blessing.
TAPE # 579 (January 1986)