Why do we perform the Brit Milah ceremony on the Eighth Day?
Because it is written in the Torah. The first time Brit Milah is mentioned in the Torah is in Genesis 17: 9-12: “And he that is eight days old shall be circumcised…” It is mentioned again in Leviticus 12:3: “And on the eighth day he shall be circumcised.” There is no reason given as to why the eighth day was chosen.
How do I calculate when the eighth day is?
The best thing to do is to speak to the mohel first who will advise you of the correct and proper day for the bris. Do this before calling the caterer or informing the guests. There are a number of exceptions to the eighth day rule and I have had to unschedule brisses that had been scheduled for the wrong day. The day of birth counts as the first day. Jewish days begin and end with sunset. Brisses are performed during the daylight hours only and never at night. The preferred custom is to perform the bris in the morning as we are anxious to perform the mitzvah, but the entire day is available to do the bris.
A baby born on a Monday will have his bris the following Monday. A baby born Monday night after it’s dark will have his bris the following Tuesday. A baby born Friday evening (after sunset, but before it’s dark) is called a “twilight baby” — the proper day for his bris is the following Sunday. A baby born by caesarian section on Friday night or Saturday will have his bris the following Sunday. A baby born by caesarian section where the bris coincides the following week with a holiday or festival will have his bris on the next available weekday. (This is one of the exceptions to the eighth day rule. The rabbis defined a caesarian section differently than a regular birth in that the bris of a baby born by c-section does not supercede the Sabbath or holiday. One birth scenario is neither inferior to nor superior to the other.) If the baby is not well, we delay the bris until he is well. There are specific rules for scheduling a delayed bris for a baby who was ill, so please speak to the mohel to determine the correct day.
Can a bris take place at night?
No. From the verse in Leviticus 12:3, we learn that the rite must be performed “on the eighth day,” even if it is the Sabbath; and during the daylight hours, not at night.
In what areas do you perform bris ceremonies?
I primarily serve Austin and central Texas. I will also travel to San Antonio if requested.
When should a bris take place?
A bris is performed on the eighth day of life. The day of birth counts as the first day, as long as the birth occurs before sundown. Therefore, if a child is born during daylight on a Monday, his bris would be the following Monday. If he is born after sundown on Monday, the bris is the following Tuesday. A bris must take place before sunset, and it may be postponed only for medical reasons. A bris should be held on Shabbat or a holiday unless the birth was via an elective C-section or was postponed due to health reasons. If there are health concerns then the bris should take place once the child is deemed healthy enough to proceed.
What should the baby wear?
An outfit that is easily raised over the baby’s waist as the circumcision is being performed, and easily pulled over the baby’s body afterwards. A gown works well. A two piece outfit is also easy for me to work with. However, an outfit that snaps from above the waist all the way down to the feet is cumbersome.
Is a minyan required?
A minyan (a group of ten) is preferable but not mandatory.
What type of anesthesia do you use?
The baby is given infant Tylenol. He is then injected with 1% lidocaine at the base of the penis 10-15 minutes before the procedure. During the circumcision the baby is additionally soothed with gauze soaked in wine.
Would you perform a bris for the son of an interfaith couple?
Absolutely! I strive to make all parties feel as included as possible in this warm and loving ceremony. A bris should be a celebration for all who wish to partake in it.
What are the reasons for a circumcision to be done, both religious and medical?
The Berit Milah is the oldest rite in Jewish history and has been performed faithfully for almost 4000 years by Jews of all observances.
Berit Milah is the common thread that unites our community. It imprints on each male child the physical sign of his Jewish identity and it is a symbol of the eternal bond between God and the Children of Israel. This mitzvah is of such importance that the Talmud compares the value of the Berit Milah to the sum of the 612 commandments. Gradually, Berit Milah acquired a national identity, making its performance today as mandatory for the modern secularists as well as for the traditionally observant Jew.
A quote from the bible as written in Genesis 17:12: “ And throughout the generations every male among you shall be circumcised at the age of eight days.” According to tradition, if a male is not circumcised he is still Jewish but he is spiritually “cut off” from the Jewish people in the world to come. Circumcision as a medical procedure offers positive benefits throughout a man’s life. The risks of the procedure rare outweigh the risks. The American Academy of Pediatrics reported that neonatal circumcision protects against urinary tract infections, penile cancer, sexually transmitted diseases, balanoposthisis ( infection of the glans), phimosis ( failure of the foreskin to retract), and ease of genital hygiene.