Brit Milah – The Jewish Way of Circumcising a Baby Boy
Brit Milah is a Jewish ceremony which means “covenant of circumcision.” This ceremony is performed on an 8 days old baby boy. It was written on the Book of Genesis how God commands Abraham to do the ritual to his son as a symbol of the covenant between God and Jews. The term Brit Milah is also called bris by the Yiddish.
The ceremony involves the removal of the foreskin in the penis and is performed by a trained individual known as a mohel. Brit Milah is one of the most popular Jewish customs which signifies the unique relationship between God and a Jewish baby boy.
As mentioned above, the ceremony is performed to every eight-day-old Jewish baby, even if it falls on a Jewish holiday or Shabbat. The ceremony can be postponed in case of medical problems that might endanger the health of the baby.
Traditionally, the ceremony is carried out in a synagogue during the morning services. However, some families prefer the brit milah to be held at the grandparents or parents’ home.
The circumcision is performed by a Mohel if it is a man or Mohelet if it is a woman. Some work as full-time mohels, but some are also rabbis, nurse, cantors, physicians or midwives. Mohels are trained in Jewish laws about circumcision, and in modern surgical hygiene.
Three Main Parts of Brit Milah
The Brit Milah ceremony is divided into three parts:
1. Blessing and Circumcision
The mother prepares and brings the baby to the site where the Brit Milah will be performed. Then, the assign men and women will act as messengers to bring the infant from the mother’s arms to the room where the circumcision will occur. The messengers are known as kvatters.
The baby is handed to kvatterin (female messenger) and then handed to the kvatter (male messenger). As the baby is being carried to the room, the guests should greet him by chanting “Baruch Haba” meaning “Blessed be he who comes.”
Then the baby is handed to the Sandek, he holds the baby as the circumcision is carried out. The Mohel will then recites the blessings over the baby and then the circumcision is then performed.
2. Kiddush and Naming
Kiddush is the blessing over the wine. A drop of wine is placed in the baby’s mouth as the sandek holds the baby. A sandek is usually a man, a brother, a grandparent or a close friend of the father. As it is done, a prayer recited for the well-being of the baby succeeded by a long prayer where his name was given.
3. Seudat Mitzvah
The last part of the ceremony is the seudat mitzvah, which is a celebratory meal. The sharing of food with relatives and friends is done to celebrate the joy of a new life in this world.
Except for seudat mitzvah, the entire ceremony of this ceremony will only take around 15 minutes.