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Circumcision

Circumcision

The Eternal Covenant

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The Jew is bound with a covenant engraved deep beneath his conscious self, even on his very flesh: a timeless bond G‑d established with his father Abraham. Long before he could be self-aware, his mother and father brought him into this covenant through circumcision.

When?

The brit (covenant of circumcision) must be performed by an expert, Torah-observant mohel. Several days after birth, the mohel inspects the infant’s state of health. If all is well, the brit must be performed on the eighth day of the boy’s life, anytime during daytime hours—the earlier the better. Otherwise, the brit must be postponed.

  • Long before he could be self-aware, his parents bring him into the covenantRemember, the Jewish date begins and ends at nightfall. Consult with a rabbi if the child was born between sunset and dark.
  • The brit is held even on a Shabbat, holiday or fast day. This is not the case, however, or if the brit was postponed, or if the child was born via C-section.
  • Missed out? It’s never too late. There are mohels specially trained to circumcise adults (anesthetics included).

The Ceremony

A brit is a joyous event. The custom is not to invite people, but to notify them of the time and place. The infant is brought in and placed on a designated “Seat of Elijah the Prophet”—who, according to tradition, attends every brit.

The mohel recites the blessing and performs the circumcision on the baby, who lies in the lap of the sandak (considered a prestigious honor). The father then recites his own blessing, thanking G‑d for this special mitzvah. A prayer is recited introducing the boy’s Jewish name.

And then, in fine Jewish tradition, we eat.

We left out:

  • On the Friday night after the boy's birth, a special celebration, a shalom zachar, is held.
  • The father traditionally remains awake the night prior to the brit, studying Torah and reciting selected passages of the Zohar.
  • In recent times, medical science has proven circumcision to be a highly effective measure against many diseases.

Visit our Circumcision Section for more information.

Illustrations by Yehuda Lang. To view more artwork by this artist, click here.
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Ari Jerusalem October 29, 2015

Maybe it should be said that the circumcision is a mitzvah (self accepted commandment) for the father. Technically, he designs the mohel to perform it on his behalf. Reply

Robert Newhouse Stillwater, MN October 29, 2015

Isn't it amazing that on the 8th day after birth, the level of vitamin K in the baby's body (the vitamin that causes blood clotting) is highest level it will ever be during that person's life? "The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul" (Ps 19:7) Reply

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