If you are of Jewish descent, you may have heard of the Brit Milah, the ceremony that certifies the commitment to God and the practice of Jewish traditions through the act of circumcision. This holiest of ceremonies celebrates the covenant God made with the first Patriarch, Abraham, and blesses the newborn with their religious name. The ceremony traditionally takes place on the eight-day from the baby’s birth, regardless if it falls on a holiday or a Sabbath day.
Today, we will expand our knowledge of circumcision, learn how they are performed, what celebratory duties are involved, and the proper circumcision age. In the end, we will fully grasp how the circumcision ceremony stems from the roots of Judaism, how it brings man and God more together, and how every male adherent to the Jewish faith can undergo circumcision, regardless of age.
What is Circumcision?
Circumcision is a surgical procedure that removes the skin covering the tip of the penis for religious purposes, preventive health care, and personal hygiene. Although it presents compelling benefits, circumcision is still a matter of debate in today’s society. However, numerous researchers and institutions, including the AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics), recognize circumcision’s health benefits.
Here are some of the medical benefits attributed to circumcision:
A circumcised penis is easier to clean and maintain.
Reduced Risk of Contracting Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD)
Circumcision reduces the chances of contracting STDs.
Less Prone to Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)
Urinary tract infections are more common in uncircumcised men.
Preventing Penile Problems in the Long Run
The phimosis occurs when the foreskin becomes too tight to retract from the glans’ head, causing inflammation and infection. You can avoid this condition with circumcision.
In this blog, we will focus mainly on the religious side of circumcision, on how this command (given by God himself) represents the long Jewish history.
The circumcision tradition celebrates the connection between generations and fulfills God’s command that he gave to Abraham:
“This is My covenant which you shall keep, between Me and you and thy descendants after thee, every male among you shall be circumcised. And ye shall be circumcised on the flesh of your foreskin, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between Me and you. And he that is eight days old shall be circumcised among you, every male throughout your generations” (Genesis 17:10-12).
It is in fact the father’s obligation to initiate and perform the Brit Milah. Since most fathers are not capable of performing the sacred ritual for various reasons, they appoint Mohels, experts in the circumcision field and modern surgical hygiene as their representatives. During the procedure, close relatives (e.g., the father or the grandfather) to the newborn baby perform other ceremonial roles, such as Kvatter (the person who carries the baby from the mother to the father) and Sandek (the person who holds the baby during circumcision).
How is a Circumcision Performed?
Nowadays, mohels usually will employ some sort of anesthetic to minimize pain. While performing the circumcision, the mohel recites a blessing together with the father or a relative. After the procedure, everyone recites their blessing to ensure that the baby grows up healthy and happy, and the baby receives his religious name.
Right after the ceremony, a festive Seudat Mitzvah (i.e., “the commanded meal) completes the celebration. The Brit Milah requires a celebratory meal to be served to everyone present. It is a meal of good occasion, often as a brunch-type meal since circumcision is usually performed in the morning.
If we’re going back to this tradition’s origins, we find out that Abraham performed circumcision on himself when he was already 99 years old. Therefore, considering Abraham’s old age, we cannot find a reason why adults should not undergo circumcision.
Adult circumcision is performed on Jewish converts or men who could not celebrate this covenant at a fragile age. In performing a Brit Milah, some mohels are trained for adult circumcision. The surgical procedure itself is more complex compared to a baby, but the ceremony remains the same. It should be performed in partnership with a medical doctor.
Jewish circumcision is an easy-to-perform mitzvah, regardless of age. However, if you are unsure how to get started or where to find a mohel, you can always consult with your local rabbi.
Why We Encourage Circumcisions
Circumcision not only enables you to fulfill your religious duties but it’s also a powerful and transformative process. It helps deepen the commitment to God and the practice of Jewish traditions. It brings about happiness that only the recognition of religious identity can. Other than the representation of preservation and continuation of Judaism practice, there are tons of medical benefits that you can get from having been circumcised. It all comes down to personal preferences. Anyone who has doubts and worries about the process can always seek counseling.
Choosing Rabbi Rappaport for a Perfect Circumcision Experience
Once you’ve decided, your rabbi can refer you to a local mohel that can help you with the circumcision. If you’re in the MD/DC/VA area, your best bet on having the perfect circumcision experience is with Rabbi Rappaport. Every part of the ceremony, the procedure, and his personality supports this perfect experience.
Rabbi Rappaport is a renowned mohel in the area that specializes in Brit Milah ceremonies. In addition, he practices at local hospitals and surgical centers, so you’re sure to have a safe circumcision. There are close to 5,000 babies who would give their stamp of approval!
When it comes to his reputation, he was an apprentice for several years with the Chief Mohel of Israel, Rabbi Moshe Weisberg. He performs Brit Milahs with professionalism and makes it an easy and pleasant experience. Rabbi Rappaport goes through with the circumcision and makes sure that the whole ceremony is a perfect representation of a celebration.
If you want to schedule an appointment or you have questions, you can contact Rabbi Rappaport anytime.