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The Day and Time of the Circumcision

The Day and Time of the Circumcision

When is the brit milah performed?

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Which Day?

The brit, ritual circumcision, is performed on the eighth day of the child’s life, at any time between sunrise and sunset (click here for your local times).1

If health complications delay the circumcision, it is performed immediately after the stable health of the child is confirmed (see here for more details).

If one was not ritually circumcised as an infant, it is his responsibility to be circumcised as soon as possible.2

Why Eight Days?

In accordance with the biblical verse, “On the eighth day, the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised,”3 the brit is performed on the eighth day.

In addition, the eight day wait allows the infant to attain the physical strength needed to undergo the surgical procedure.4

A deeper explanation: while the number seven is related to the natural world—seven days of the week, seven notes to an octave—the number eight goes one step beyond into the supernatural.

Circumcision also takes us beyond the natural order—our very physical body enters into a covenant with G‑d who creates nature at every moment. It all starts by etching a covenant in our body on the 8th day, thereby sealing our miraculous connection to a higher authority. 5

The Time

In an effort to emulate Abraham, who woke up early and ran to do G‑d’s commandments, we try to perform the circumcision as early in the morning as possible.6 However, the Sages teach us that one should wait until later in the day if there will be more participants in attendance at that time.7 For this reason,8 it is preferred to have the ritual circumcision in the synagogue following the morning prayers. 9,10

Footnotes
1.

Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh Deah 262:1.

2.

Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh Deah 261.

4.

Otzar Habrit, ch. 4, f. 1. See also Talmud, Nidah 31b.

5.

The Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, of righteous memory, Lekutei Sichot vol. 3, p. 834.

6.

Pesachim 4a.

7.

See the Lubavitcher Rebbe, of righteous memory, Teshuvot Ubiurim, ch. 182.

8.

Machzor Vitry, vol. 2, p. 506. Another reason given is that one should not further inconvenience the community by bringing them to an additional location from the prayer service (Sefer Habrit, pp. 265 and 154).

9.

Otzar Habrit, p. 152. The reason for this is that the prayer service includes many biblical commandments. Therefore, the prayer service takes precedence over the one commandment of ritual circumcision. There are also those who specifically perform the circumcision in their homes, so Elijah the Prophet, who is said to attend every brit, will visit their homes (ibid 174).

10.

There are those who have the custom to keep their tefillin on during the entire circumcision (see the Shach on Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh Deah 265).

Dovid Zaklikowski is a freelance journalist living in Brooklyn. Dovid and his wife Chana Raizel are the proud parents of four: Motti, Meir, Shaina & Moshe Binyomin.
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Circumcision is the first commandment given by G-d to Abraham, the first Jew, and is central to Judaism.
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