BENSHEN, Ashkenazi term, probably derived (via Old French) from the Latin benedicere, meaning "bless" or "pronounce a benediction." It is mainly used for *Grace after Meals which, when recited by three adult males, is introduced by a formula, of which the Yiddish version is Raboysay, mir volen benshen ("Gentlemen, let us say Grace"). It is also used as a designation for the Prayer for the New Moon, Rosh Ḥodesh benshen, and for the benediction recited by a person who has survived a perilous escape, gomel benshen. The kindling of Sabbath and festival lights is called likht benshen. The blessing of children by parents is also called benshen. The term corresponds to the Sephardi bencao.
Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.