Bris

by Chossid July. 09, 2012 8884 views

Birth is one of the only moments in life where one comes face to face with G dliness.
In fact, a newborn Jewish child will continue the chain of Jewish life begun thousands of years ago with our patriarch Abraham and matriarch Sarah. This new life is one more link in the chain of Jewish history.
One gazes at the infant, emotions running rampant. One sees in this new and tiny person life, potential, future, family, continuation. The first person commanded to circumcise himself was Abraham, at the age of ninety-nine. G d told him (Genesis 17:7), “And I will establish my covenant between Me and between you and between your seed after you throughout their generations as an everlasting covenant, to be to you for a G d and to your seed after you.” Demonstrating his submission to G d by marking the physical body with the sign of the covenant, Abraham revealed the intrinsic bond which every Jew has with his Maker.
G d commanded the Jewish people (Leviticus 12:2), “On the eighth day, the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised.” The act of circumcision, marking the completion of the body, is a human act. This teaches us that our spiritual, emotional, moral and ethical perfection requires human effort. G d cannot do it for us.
There are many partnerships into which a person will enter during his or her lifetime. Most of them, at some point, will come to a natural end, or will be broken by one of the parties. The bris mila, ritual circumcision, is a symbol of our partnership with G d. Etched in the flesh of our physical bodies, the covenant will never end or be forgotten. This covenant with G d surpasses human comprehension. It is a bond that pledges unconditional devotion, no matter what may transpire between G d and individual. It is a bond that is absolute and unchallengeable. For this reason a Jew is circumcised as an infant, when he has not yet developed his capacity for reasoning or making judgements, for the covenant of circumcision is not an intellectual or calculated partnership. The circumcision of an infant demonstrates that the connection between the Jews and G d is beyond rationale.
G d chose the very organ that is the source of life, which can also be chosen to use for the basest acts, as the site to be sanctified with circumcision. This gives us the profound message that we can use every physical drive for holy purposes.
For thousands of years, even under severe persecution, Jews have circumcised our sons using the services of amohel, ritual circumciser, who knows all the intricacies of performing the circumcision. By having one’s son ritually circumcised, one joins ranks in connecting one’s child with G d in an unbreakable covenant.

Above and here, my newly married granddaughter holds her cousin's new baby boy.

G d commanded the Jewish people (Leviticus 12:2), “On the eighth day, the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised.” The act of circumcision, marking the completion of the body, is a human act. This teaches us that our spiritual, emotional, moral and ethical perfection requires human effort. G d cannot do it for us.

There are many partnerships into which a person will enter during his or her lifetime. Most of them, at some point, will come to a natural end, or will be broken by one of the parties. The brit, ritual circumcision, is a symbol of our partnership with G d. Etched in the flesh of our physical bodies, the covenant will never end or be forgotten. The brit is performed between sunrise and sunset on the eighth day from when the child was born. If health complications delay the circumcision, it is performed immediately after the stable health of the child is confirmed.

The mother brings the infant to the location where the circumcision will be performed.
Then, a designated female and male serve as messengers to bring the baby from the mother’s arms to the place where the circumcision will be performed. These messengers are called kvaters. The kvaters are usually a husband-and-wife team.

My granddaughter and her husband were the kvaters. Here he is walking downstairs together with the father of the baby.

Mother and father, shortly before the actual bris.

The mother hands her baby to the female kvater, who is dressed in her finest clothing. She in turn hands him over to her husband, who, wearing his talis (prayer shawl) carries the child to where the circumcision will take place.

The mother does not usually go into the room where the actual bris takes place. We wait with her.

The tradition is to designate a chair for Elijah, the “Angel of the Covenant,” at every circumcision. Many synagogues have a designated ornate chair for this purpose. One of the attendees is given the honor of placing the baby on the chair of Elijah as the mohel, ritual circumciser, chants, “This is the seat of Elijah…” He also asks that Elijah stand to his right and protect him, so nothing will go wrong during the circumcision. One of the participants at the bris is honored with lifting the infant from the chair of Elijah and handing him to the father. The father, in turn, places the baby on the lap of the sandek, his representative, who will hold the baby during the circumcision. The father of the infant stands next to the mohel. The father picks up the surgical knife and hands it to the mohel, stating that he appoints the mohel as his messenger to perform the circumcision. The knife is extremely sharp, and double edged, in order to cause the least pain possible.

The mohel recites the blessing, “Blessed are You, L rd our G d, King of the universe, Who has sanctified us with His commandments and commanded us concerning circumcision” before beginning the circumcision.
The father recites the blessing, “Blessed are You, L rd our G d, King of the universe, Who has sanctified us with His commandments and commanded us to enter him into the Covenant of Abraham our father.”
Those present respond, “Just as he has entered into the Covenant, so may he enter into Torah, into marriage, and into good deeds.”

There is a second sandek, called the “standing sandek,” who holds the infant as mohel recites the blessings and names the child. The blessings are recited over a cup of wine, and twice during the naming, the mohel will dip his pinky into the wine, and place tiny drops in the baby’s mouth.

When the circumcision has been completed, the kvaters return the infant to his mother in the same manner as before.

The baby is given gauze dipped in a little wine to suck on…

Afterwards, friends and relatives attend a festive meal in honor of the circumcision. The meal is held in order to extend the joyous occasion. It is traditional that all who participate in the festive meal should wash their hands ritually and eat bread. The meal may consist of meat, fish, or dairy, (though a meat meal is preferable,) and wine should always be served. At the festive meal, it is customary to give charity and sing spiritual melodies. The father of the infant gives a short talk about the significance of ritual circumcision. At the end of the meal, the blessing after meals is recited, including six blessings specifically for the bris, bestowing good health and good wishes upon baby, parents, sandek and mohel.

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Vizcaino Perez 8 years, 8 months ago

Great posts. Thank you for explaining all these rich traditions.

8 years, 8 months ago Edited
Masoud Ahmadpoor 8 years, 9 months ago

Hey the breed of Abraham! Remember God's gifts to you and pray only God ;)
Thanks for your information!

8 years, 9 months ago Edited
Eiram Marie 8 years, 9 months ago

Beautiful post - and very touching.

8 years, 9 months ago Edited
Jay 8 years, 9 months ago

Never mind the above questions. I am reading/viewing backward and I saw the explanations in the previous post :-)

8 years, 9 months ago Edited
Jay 8 years, 9 months ago

Thanks once again, Leah, for a truly beautifully written narrative of the event. And what fine portraits of these beautiful people and process. Could you please remind me of what the little "box" is, that the men are wearing on their foreheads? I cannot seem to recall. Also, the "straps" (I don't know what else to call it.) they have around their hands?

8 years, 9 months ago Edited
Carrie 8 years, 10 months ago

Interesting photos (poor little guy - I hope he's not sore)

8 years, 10 months ago Edited
Jarvo J 8 years, 10 months ago

Sweet baby.

8 years, 10 months ago Edited
Lisa Charbonneau 8 years, 10 months ago

Nice baby!

8 years, 10 months ago Edited
Huiching 8 years, 10 months ago

Really beautiful. Thanks for sharing.

8 years, 10 months ago Edited
Mallusatish Reddy 8 years, 10 months ago

Beautiful post,Fascinating~!~

8 years, 10 months ago Edited
Marsha 8 years, 10 months ago

Great sequence of images and interesting information, Leah!

8 years, 10 months ago Edited
Gillian Parsons 8 years, 10 months ago

Wonderful to see and read about beautiful girls :-)

8 years, 10 months ago Edited
Antonio Gil 8 years, 10 months ago

A great family set.

8 years, 10 months ago Edited
Finbarr 8 years, 10 months ago

Beautiful captures !!

8 years, 10 months ago Edited
Olga Helys 8 years, 10 months ago

Congrats !
So warm, lovely report :)
Thanks for sharing

8 years, 10 months ago Edited
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