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Why Wait Eight Days for the Circumcision?

Why Wait Eight Days for the Circumcision?

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In stereotypical Jewish fashion, allow me please to answer your question through asking yet another question.

Why can't the brit (circumcision) wait until the child grows older? Wouldn't it be that much greater if a mature person, using his own intelligence, would choose to make the big decision himself?

But that's the beauty of a brit. We are born Jews. It is not a project we rationally decide to undertake. Our covenant with G‑d is super-rational. It does not go away in moments when our minds tell us otherwise. We do not always comprehend the reasons behind the mitzvot.

According to Kabbala, the number seven represents nature and that which is finite. Seven days in the week, seven days of creation, and seven human faculties.

Eight represents the super-rational and the infinite. The miraculous as opposed to natural. Belief as opposed to comprehension.

And so, a baby is given is brit on the eighth day. He is entering a religion founded upon faith, whose survival is miraculous, and whose potential in the world is infinite.

Yours truly,

Rabbi Yisroel Cotlar

Rabbi Yisroel Cotlar is a Chabad rabbi in Cary, North Carolina. He is also a member of the Chabad.org Ask the Rabbi team.
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Discussion (11)
March 20, 2014
There's nothing medically special about the eighth day.
There's nothing medically special about the eighth day, and no other surgery would be scheduled for then. There's a huge difference between seven-day-old babies anyway, depending on their general health, and whether or not they were born prematurely. A good mohel will know when the eighth day is too soon.
Mark Lyndon
Schenectady
September 14, 2012
The medical reason is the reason.
What I find amazing is that we sit around and think up these theories that revolve around mystical symbolism while overlooking the most amazing parts of the stories in the Bible. The Vitamin K and Thrombocin ( which is a blood clotter) are the highest in a baby on his eigth day of life. There is no way that could have been medically know at the time, therefore, the fact that it was chosen on the healthiest day for the child leads one to have to believe that the one who created the human body had to have been calling the shots. This is what is amazing about that story. Not theories of mystical number. This is why God chose the eighth day. He does what is best for us, not what helps to make numbers look cooler.
Tim Martin
livingston, tx
September 13, 2012
Re: To Shari
It actually depends on where the baby is born. Rabbi Posner is correct that the "day" begins at sundown, but incorrect in assuming that 11 pm would necessarily be after sundown. In most places, this is true year-round. However, there are a few places where sundown can occur after 11 pm during part of the year. In that situation, the answer would be Sunday. However, Monday is normally correct.
Anonymous
Camarillo, CA
chabadcamarillo.com
September 10, 2012
Why wait until the 8th day
Perhaps it is because God knew that on the 8th day it was safer for the baby. I am doing some research on this subject. There is an antibody that is produced on the 8th day after birth that keeps a baby from getting infections. If this is true, then it is a medical reason.
tim martin
Livingston, texas
January 26, 2012
To Shari
The Jewish day begins at Sundown. Thus, 11 pm on Sunday night is considered to be Monday, and the brit would be held the following Monday
Rabbi Menachem Posner for Chabad.org
January 25, 2012
when to have bris
If a baby is born around 11pm on a Sunday night, is the 8th day considered to be following Sunday or should the bris be held on Monday?
Shari M.
Marlboro, NJ
January 30, 2008
Did anyone remember about the medical reasons for it? It is the day on which the vitamin K--which is important for blood clotting-- is highest in the baby's blood, so while one may not call this "the reason" it is definitely a good reason as well.
Fraida
November 18, 2007
It is the 8th day for us because it was for Isaac
Prior to Abraham, there were no Jews. When Abram became Abraham, he was circumcised as an adult. The first child ever born to a Jew was Isaac. (When Ishmael was born, Abram/Abraham was not yet Jewish, as his mother was not Jewish and we know that he had not yet converted, because he was still uncircumcised.) Genesis says that Isaac, the first child ever born Jewish, was circumcised on the eighth day. So, to this day, we circumcise children born to Jews on the 8th day.
Stephen Weinstein
Camarillo, CA
chabadcamarillo.com
June 23, 2007
This question was posed in an Embracing Judaism class at my Synagogue. The answer came naturally ...I believe that the eighth day symbolizes the covenant in that there were 6 days of creation, rest on the seventh day. The eighth day is when the cycle starts over...it is the first day, first day of covenant. Very symbolic and beautiful.
Anonymous
TX
June 7, 2007
why not before??????????????
i guess that the reason we don't make the brit before the child is 8 days old is because i don't think he will make it...
anonymous
NY, NY
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