- Beauty and dignity are added to the Brit ceremony
by burning candles. There is no prescribed number. The
candles are lit without a blessing at the beginning
of the ceremony. This custom dates to a time when it
was illegal to perform a Brit. The lighted candles seen
in a window during the day would signify that a Brit
was to take place. Jews passing by would enter the house
to hear the blessings.
- The baby should be dressed in clothing befitting of
being blessed by the prophet Elijah and entering into
the covenant with his Creator. However, it is helpful
to the Mohel to keep clothing simple and easy to remove.
- At one time, the swaddling in which the child was
wrapped at the circumcision ceremony was fashioned into
a band for the Torah and given to the synagogue to be
used when he became a bar Mitzvah. It was embroidered
with the child's name, date of birth and other designs.
This is called a wimple.
- The night prior, a Vach Nacht, Vigil, was held to
ward off anything that might interfere with the Brit.
The men of the family would study Torah passages relating
to Milah. Children were brought to the crib of the infant
where they recited the first chapter of the Shema and
the verse "May the angel who redeems me from evil..."
(Genesis 48:16). The children were
given candy, other sweets and coins.
- Ben Zachor (also Shalom Zachor): On the first Friday
night after a boy is born, it is customary to celebrate
by gathering in the home of the newborn to welcome him.
"As soon as a child comes into the world, peace comes
into the world." (Nidarim 31b) God
finished the creation of the world with the Sabbath
and introduced peace and rest. Thus the Sabbath surrounds
the newborn with an aura of holiness and enhances his
entry into the Covenant of Abraham, our father.
- Pidyon Haben: The redemption of the first-born son
of a Jewish mother requires a Pidyon Haben. If the father
is a Kohen or Levi or the mother is the daughter of
a Kohen or Levi, the child is exempt. The ceremony takes
place on the 31st day of the child's life. If this day
falls on Shabbat or a Yom Tov, the ceremony is postponed
until the first following weekday. A religiously observant
Kohen is needed.