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BRIS MILAH: THE COVENANT

Bris Milah, ritual circumcision, is one of the most fundamental precepts of the Jewish religion. It is referred to in the Torah as the covenant of Abraham, since our forefather Abraham was the first to receive the commandment concerning circumcision from G-d.  “And he that is eight days old shall be circumcised among you, every male throughout your generations” (Genesis 17:12). More than any other Jewish ritual, Bris Milah is an expression of Jewish identity. Its fulfillment symbolizes an affirmation of faith in Abraham’s ancient, and still vibrant, covenant with G-d. Through ritual circumcision, parents create with their precious child yet another link in the continuing chain of our people that has proudly survived the challenges to its physical and spiritual existence for thousands of years.

THE MOHEL
Traditionally, the parents engage a mohel to perform the Bris. A mohel is a person who is specially trained in the medical and surgical techniques of circumcision. In addition to being an expert in his field, the mohel is also an expert in the Jewish laws pertaining to Bris Milah. A doctor’s medical circumcision, usually performed in the hospital within the first few days after birth, does not fulfill the requirements of a Bris Milah and is not considered valid according to Jewish law. The Bris must be performed by a Jewish person who understands, upholds and practices the tenets of the Jewish religion and is specially trained to function as a mohel. 

THE BABY
The Bris of a healthy baby is done on the eighth day of life (counting the day of birth). This is so even if the eighth day falls on Shabbos, Yom Kippur or any other Jewish festival. However, in the case of a baby born by Caesarean section, the Bris is not performed on Shabbos or on a festival, but on the day following. Bris Milah may not be performed before the eighth day or at night. In the event that a baby is not in perfect health — even if not seriously ill — the Bris is delayed until both the doctor and the mohel are in agreement as to the healthy status of the baby. A common example of this situation is newborn jaundice. However, in the case of serious illness, a delay of one week following full recovery is required. 

THE BRIS CEREMONY
The Bris ceremony is a very special occasion and is accompanied by much happiness and rejoicing. The ceremony usually takes place at home, in a synagogue or at a catering hall. There are several honors to be conferred during the ceremony, usually bestowed upon the relatives and close friends of the baby’s family. A brief description of the ceremony is as follows: A couple enters with the baby and the baby is placed on a chair designated as the Chair of Elijah. The baby is then placed upon the lap of the Sandek (most often a grandfather) who holds the baby during the circumcision procedure. After the appropriate blessing is recited, the circumcision is performed by the mohel. Immediately following the Bris, another blessing is said over a cup of wine, and the baby receives his official Hebrew name, which he will proudly carry throughout his life. The newborn child is often named after departed relatives, a symbolic source of continued life for those no longer with us. The ceremony ends with the resounding wish of “Mazel Tov!” followed bythe serving of refreshments or a light meal. 

A JOYOUS BEGINNING
A Bris Milah performed according to Jewish tradition is a wonderful beginning for a newborn child. It is a memorable experience, replete with significance and meaning for all those involved——the first of many milestones and happy occasions to be joyously celebrated during the child’s life, as he grows to be a source of nachas and satisfaction to all those close to him. Mazel Tov!
 

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HOME
WHAT IS BRIS MILAH?
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
BEFORE, DURING, & AFTER THE BRIS
IT'S A GIRL!
NEWS ROOM
ABOUT RABBI RAPPAPORT

RABBI AVRAHAM RAPPAPORT
3373 Tidewater Court Olney, MD 20832
Phone:
1-877- MD-MOHEL
Phone/Fax:
301-260-7590
Cel:
443-790-6541
Click here to send e-mail:
rabbi@mdmohel.com
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