THE CEREMONY

The following description parallels a ceremony typical of that which I conduct. There is room for flexibility and creativity within the service provided Halacha is respected.

The baby is carried by his mother to the door of the room where the Brit will take place. As he enters the room and is handed to a godparent, all the assembled recite “Baruch Haba,” "Blessed is he that comes." The godparent gives the baby to the other godparent who places him momentarily on the Chair of Elijah. I then carry the child to a waist high table where he rests on the changing pad and is held firmly at the knees by the Sandak. (I will show the Sandak exactly how to do this prior to the actual Brit).

After scrubbing and putting on rubber gloves, a sterilized probe is used to lift the P’ree-ah, underlying membrane, into the Orlah, foreskin, Lidocaine is used for this procedure. This preparation will deaden the mucous membrane, which is inside the foreskin. The amount to be removed is determined and a Magen Clamp fixed in the correct place. The P’ree-ah and Orlah are cut with one sweep along the flat edge of the clamp. A special knife called an Izmail is used. Traditionally, the knife is sharp on both edges to eliminate the possibility of causing the child pain. The traditional Izmail is also used to differentiate between a medical scalpel that is utilized by a surgeon for a “Circumcision” and the traditional Izmail which a Mohel utilizes for the Mitzvah of Brit Milah. A sterile Hemostatic coagulating dressing and sterile Vaseline gauze are applied. When performed by a competent Mohel the entire procedure, which flows as one continuous motion, takes less than a minute. The excised foreskin is buried in the earth later on.

The parents recite the blessing "...who has sanctified us by Thy commandments and commanded us to enter our son into the covenant of Abraham, our father." All the assembled repeat after me (word for word, in Hebrew and in English), "...even as this child has entered into the covenant, so may he enter into a life of Torah, the marriage canopy and good deeds."

The child is then held by the “Amidah Lebrachot” or another honored guest. With kiddush cup in hand, I recite the blessing for wine, giving a drop to the child. A second blessing praising God, "who established a covenant with His people, Israel," is then said.

Finally, I offer a prayer for the welfare of the child during which his Hebrew name is formally announced. The child is given another taste of wine. At this time, parents often choose to welcome their guests and to make a few comments about the child's Hebrew name and/or the person/people after whom he is named.

"Every Mitzvah that they accepted upon themselves with joy...they still perform with joy." (Shabbat 130a) Rashi interpreted this to mean that a festive meal should be prepared. Included in this meal should be Challah and kosher wine. It is customary not to issue a direct invitation to the circumcision meal, for one may not refuse to attend. To do so would be equal to turning down the opportunity to perform a Mitzvah.