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 Brit Milah (Bris)
Bringing Newborn Jewish Boys Into the Covenant
The Brit Milah (בְּרִית מִילָה) which is literally translated as “Covenant of Circumcision” is a fundamental Jewish rite of passage that marks the entrance of the Jewish male into a covenant between God and the Jewish nation.  The ritual of circumcision is performed by a highly trained Mohel or circumciser on the eighth day of the infant boy’s life.  This is followed by a festive meal attended by family and friends celebrating the addition of a new member into the Jewish fold.

This covenant has its origins in the bible with God’s first commandment to the patriarch, Abraham.  In Genesis (17:12) God commands Abraham to circumcise all Jewish males when they are eight days old. “And G-d spoke to Abraham saying: ...This is my covenant which you shall keep between Me and you and thy seed after you -every male child among you shall be circumcised." The law is repeated again in Leviticus (12:3) “On the eighth day the foreskin shall be circumcised.” 

Over the generations the ritual of circumcision has been more universally observed by Jews than any other.  Jewish people of different levels of observance including those completely secular have performed this procedure adhering to all its laws.  Though the biblical text only states that the foreskin of the male child should be removed on the eighth day, rabbinic commentaries interpreted this commandment and decreed certain rules that must be precisely followed regarding the procedure and its accompanying regulations.   

The Brit Milah is deemed a divine commandment of overtly exhibiting the covenant between God and the Jewish Nation.  It is the ultimate declaration of Jewish identity.  Though hygienic reasons have been given and research has validated its therapeutic benefits, the fundamental reason for the brit is God’s directive. 


More about the Brit Milah:
Brit Milah: The Covenant of Circumcision, an overview.
Brit Milah: Biblical Commandment
Leil Shimurim: The Evening Before the Brit Ceremony
Brit Milah: The Venue
Brit Milah: Best time for Ceremony
Brit Milah: The Ceremony
Brit Milah: The Controversy
       • Brit Milah: Benefits - AP Article
       • Brit Milah: Benefits - BBC Article

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