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Why Do We Circumcise? Understanding the Jewish Tradition

Ever since the birth of civilization, humans have shaped their understanding of the world, with all its ups and downs, into rituals. Every year, on specific dates, communities get together to celebrate certain key life moments, such as baptism, coming of age, or marriage, and bring these everlasting rituals to life. Of course, circumcision is one of the rituals fundamental to the Jewish community, the first covenant between God and newborn babies, whose symbolism becomes a cornerstone to the baby’s acceptance into the community of believers.

Although a matter of great pride and joy to the parents, ritual circumcision does not allow all believers to decode its mysteries. As the 8th day is quickly approaching, you might wonder what lies behind the circumcision ritual and how to understand its symbolism. This is where a mohel (i.e., an expert in ritual circumcisions) can lift the shroud of mystery cast upon the ritual and let its sacred meaning shine.

Rabbi Avraham Rappaport, a second-generation expert mohel currently active in the MD/DC/VA area, is here to make sure that you, the parent, understand the symbolism behind your son’s perfect circumcision experience! Today, his one-of-a-kind training, expertise, and understanding of his spiritual role will help us teach you the reasons why we circumcise our newborn babies by decoding and explaining the circumcision ritual down to the last detail.

What Is a Circumcision and Why Do We Circumcise Our Babies?

The Bris Milah ceremony celebrates and sanctifies the relationship between God and the Jewish community. Its foundations were laid thousands of years ago, when the patriarch Abraham, under God’s preaching, instituted ritual circumcision for all members of the Jewish faith: “On the eighth day, the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised.” (Leviticus 12:2) Through this act, the believer accepts God’s spiritual, emotional, moral, and ethical perfection as an example towards which all of us must aspire. At the same time, circumcision is a fundamentally human act through which believers acknowledge their inability to find this perfection without the help of God Himself. However, God does not hand everything to us on a silver platter; He expects us to patiently travel the long and arduous journey of faith.

The Unbreakable Covenant with God

The newborn baby’s 8th day brings the joy and merriment of ritual circumcision into his house. Through this ritual, the baby forms an unbreakable bond with God, an absolute proof of faith that transcends reason and intellect. But why do Jewish teachings have enshrined ritual circumcision into the baby’s 8th day, at an age when intellect and reason cannot alter the decision? The explanation hides in the nature of the covenant itself. This profoundly spiritual connection does not fully identify itself with the physical act of circumcision; it transcends both body and reason to a level where no intellect can fully grasp it. In other words, the connection with God is intrinsic and comes to life way before the act of circumcision. We may celebrate it on the 8th day, but the spirit already knows and rejoices in the sacred bond with God. Such a pure and holy link with God does not require any intellectual filter, of which only the newborn baby’s purity is worthy. 

Why the 8th Day?

The significance of the number seven can be seen all around us, from the seven days of the week and the seven colors of the rainbow to the seven vertebrae in the neck and the seven musical notes. Such a symbolic power resides in this number that the world’s great religions have established their myths around it. All one has to do is open the Torah and read the first page of the Book of Genesis, where God completes the universal creation process in seven days. Therefore, the seventh day marks the completion of the circle of Creation, the means of encapsulating all that is natural. If the number seven represents the natural world, then the number eight represents the super or above the natural world in Judaism.

What resides beyond this symbolic limit belongs to God, to the metaphysical, as a fundamental element to the history of the Jewish people. Thus, by completing the circumcision ritual on the eighth day, the newborn baby partakes in a history that defies the laws of nature and acknowledges the divine forces that drive the Jewish people and its history. For this reason, everything in Judaism relating to the number eight must relate to the supernatural or miraculous world. For example, eight days of Hanukkah; the Shavuot holiday commemorating the giving of the Torah on Mt. Sinai is 50 days (the 8th week after 49 days) following the exodus from Egypt; and, of course, the Bris on the eighth day. The baby enters into a supernatural covenant with God and is part of the supernatural Jewish nation, which defies nature and continues to thrive after all the evil intents to destroy it.

Why the Penis?

The cultures of Antiquity placed greater emphasis on the reproductive organs’ spiritual meaning. Rather than treating them as means for the basest acts, the ancients celebrated the life-giving role of these organs and adorned them with sacredness. Therefore, through circumcision, the penis receives a holy purpose to complement the physical drive behind the life-creating process. Procreation remains physical only at the surface; circumcision endows sexuality with a gateway towards the soul’s most profound and most meaningful parts and a key to approach them in holiness and humility. 

A Small First Step towards the Perfection and Completeness of God

Once the circumcision ritual is complete, the newborn baby joins in the most sacred of covenants with God. But what does this covenant entail? Does it come with benefits only? On the contrary, the circumcision ritual symbolizes a fundamental responsibility that the believer must strive towards achieving every day: turning the physical world into a better place. Since God did not gift humans a perfect world, lest we become parasites, believers are responsible for tending to His work and making it worthy of His name within our powers. Therefore, the circumcision ritual marks the beginning of a lifetime journey of faith, love, and dedication as the driving forces behind bringing His creation closer to the Absolute Perfection.

Choosing Rabbi Rappaport for a Perfect Circumcision Experience

Rabbi Rappaport is more than ready to help you and your family unearth the symbolism behind the circumcision ritual! The unique training, unparalleled expertise, and true devotion to his spiritual calling have earned Rabbi Rappaport his expert mohel reputation. Thousands of successful circumcision procedures and grateful families recommend him as the perfect mohel for the perfect Bris Milah ceremony! So don’t hesitate to contact Rabbi Rappaport and entrust your baby’s first covenant into his hands right away!

If you plan to organize a ritual circumcision for yourself or your child, let Rabbi Rappaport do the job. Contact him anytime on his cell at: 443-790-6541. You can also send him an email at rabbi@mdmohel.com or visit his website. He will be happy to support you in making sure you have a perfect experience!