While circumcision is performed in synagogues and hospitals around the world today, there is a rich history of circumcision in the Jewish faith. The procedure’s outcome is physically the same, but there are critical differences between biblical circumcision vs. modern circumcision. What is the origin of circumcision? How is Jewish circumcision different? What is the meaning of circumcision in the Bible? Here is what every family should know.

What Is a Jewish Circumcision?

Today, many infants are circumcised in the hospital mere moments after birth. However, there are notable differences between biblical circumcision vs. modern circumcision. Jewish circumcision has been performed for thousands of years. The circumcision ritual is known as brit milah. Jewish tradition holds that parents must circumcise infant sons to secure the blessings of Abraham’s covenant with God.

The mechanics of circumcision surgery are effectively the same as medical circumcision. The foreskin will be cut from the penis using a surgical knife that is very sharp to ensure the most painless experience possible. While the origin of circumcision in the Jewish faith requires a mohel to perform the procedure, in a medical circumcision, a doctor would complete it.

What Is the History of Circumcision?

Erlau Rebbe (Grand Rabbi) Walks Through the Old City of Safed/Tzfat With Hasidim (Followers)

Jewish circumcision has been passed down for thousands of years, and brit milah is the most historic religious rite in the Jewish faith. The origin of circumcision comes from Genesis 17 in the Bible. God told Abraham that all of his sons, slaves and infant boys should be circumcised eight days after birth. Any uncircumcised boys would break the covenant.

When God spoke to Abraham, Abraham immediately took action to obey. He circumcised his son, the males of his household (including slaves), and himself. While Abraham was quite old, after that point, it was typically performed when infants were eight days old during the brit milah ceremony.

What Is the Meaning of Circumcision in the Bible?

The meaning of circumcision in the Bible centers around the covenant between God and Abraham. The covenant that God made with Abraham that started the practice of Jewish circumcision was threefold. Children who were circumcised would receive good deeds, a life enriched by the Torah, and the ability to receive chuppah (the traditional wedding canopy). Other countries and religions perform circumcision, but the history of circumcision is very rich in Judaism.

What Are the Differences in Biblical Circumcision vs. Modern Circumcision?

The meaning of circumcision in the Bible is carried on today through Jewish circumcision. One of the first differences between biblical circumcision vs. modern circumcision is in the procedure. During a brit milah, an ordained and trained professional known as a mohel will use a scalpel to perform the surgery. There will be blessings recited, readings, and a celebratory dinner following the circumcision during the ceremony.

The history of circumcision is largely disregarded in a medical setting. Instead of focusing on the meaning of circumcision in the Bible, the doctor will complete circumcision within 48 hours of birth. The doctor will apply numbing cream or light anesthetic first. Some doctors then use a clamp device, and others use a bell that will sit on the head of the penis. Next, the doctor will cut off the foreskin. Unlike the Jewish history of circumcision, this procedure is very impersonal.

When you are deciding between biblical circumcision vs. modern circumcision, you should think critically about your Jewish faith. The origin of circumcision is long ago, and generations of Jewish people have engaged with this tradition to signify the covenant Abraham made with God. It’s a lifelong representation of your faith.

Should You Circumcise Your Son?

The topic of circumcision continues to be up for debate for many couples and families as they welcome a son into the world. Why do Jews circumcise babies? Many Jewish people do not see a debate at all, as infants have been circumcised eight days after birth for thousands of years. This tradition ties all children to that history and allows them to reap the benefits of continuing the covenant with God. Circumcision is a defining act and tradition for Jewish men.

Brit milah is not done for cosmetic reasons or because it is medically preferred. Instead, it’s performed to represent the covenant between Abraham and God and symbolize the Jewish faith of the new child. Because the procedure is religious and tied to the brit milah ceremony, there is no concern about modern debates on potential health side effects for many Jewish people. If you are concerned about whether or not you should circumcise your infant, you can speak with your synagogue or a trusted mohel.

If You Convert to Judaism, Do You Need to Be Circumcised?

An Ultra-Orthodox Jewish or Haridi Man in Traditional Religious Outfit Walking in the Old City of Jerusalem.

In the Bible, non-Israelites who converted to Judaism did need to become circumcised, regardless of age. Over time, the answer to this question evolved. Some Jews practiced spilling a small amount of blood from the genitals instead of becoming circumcised, as the procedure can be more painful and complex for adults. Today, it’s traditional practice to still get circumcision in Florida, even if you are not an infant or child.

When Abraham was told to circumcise himself and his descendants, he was 99 years old. His lineage was fruitful because he carried through with that promise, and many blessings have come to the Jewish people. Whether you are 25 or 52, undergoing ritual circumcision is a reflection of your new Jewish faith.

What happens if you were medically circumcised as a baby, like over half of the male infants born in the United States? In this case, you can complete a ritual known as the hatafat dam brit. It is a ritual reenactment of circumcision and involves the extraction of a drop of blood to mimic the small amount of blood present during the brit milah.

During a hatafat dam brit, one drop of blood will be extracted from the glans of the penis. This is also performed with surgical precision to minimize discomfort. The penis will be cleaned with an alcohol swab, and the area will be pricked with a sharp medical-grade needle. The drop of blood will be placed on a small piece of gauze and shown to witnesses who will confirm proper execution. This procedure is also typically performed by a mohel.

Are You Interested in Circumcision as a Convert for Your Son? Trust South Florida Mohel for Your Circumcision

An experienced mohel is essential when you are ready to undergo or schedule the rite of circumcision. Dr. Andrew Krinsky is a fully ordained and licensed mohel with two decades of experience completing traditional Jewish circumcisions. He is compassionate and careful throughout the procedure, whether you are having your eight-day-old infant circumcised or you are converting to Judaism.

Dr. Krinsky goes above and beyond so that all babies are comfortable and that pain is minimized. Our mohel is here to support your family through this joyous tradition. If you have any questions about circumcision and its role in the life of your child, we are happy to address them over the phone or in person. Call us today at (954) 280-1586 or email us at info@southfloridamohel.com.