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Brit Milah

The Jewish circumcision ceremony is called a Brit Milah (covenant of circumcision). The ceremony is held on the eighth day of the baby’s life and may be held on Shabbat. Usually, it is preformed at a synagogue but can be held at a house or any suitable environment. A Mohel is the individual who preforms the circumcision.

The beginning of the ceremony is when the baby boy enters the room, usually in his mother’s arms. She hands him to the first person who then passes the baby to the next, until the baby reaches the chair on which he will be circumcised. It is an honor and blessing for a couple without children to be asked to carry the baby to the Mohel as a wish for them to have children of their own. It is customary for an uncle to hold him while the Mohel preforms the circumcision, or someone who is close to the baby.

The Brit Milah is a commandment for all Jewish men as it is written in the Torah in the Book of Genesis 17:10-14:

“This is My covenant, which ye shall keep, between Me and you and thy seed after thee: every male among you shall be circumcised. 11 And ye shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token of a covenant between Me and you. 12 And he that is eight days old shall be circumcised among you, every male throughout your generations, he that is born in the house, or bought with money of any foreigner, that is not of thy seed. 13 He that is born in thy house, and he that is bought with thy money, must needs be circumcised; and My covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant. 14 And the uncircumcised male who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin, that soul shall be cut off from his people; he hath broken My covenant.”

The father of the infant gives permission to the Mohel to be his “deputy” in carrying out the circumcision.

The Torah also states that any convert must be circumcised and no man can partake in the Passover offering if he has foreskin.

It is speculated that the significance of the Brit Milah is one that represents the constant effort a Jew (especially a man) must make in order to be as close to G-d’s liking as possible. It is symbolic of the reminder for man to remain humble and continuously trust HaShem and sacrifice himself to elevate.

To conclude the ceremony, a meal and prayers are enjoyed by the family and guests. This is called the Seudat mitzvah. The Birkat Hamazon is recited and followed by the Nodeh Leshimcha. Blessings for the baby and parents are recited as the following: