Most Jews never pay much attention to the circumcision debate. Since biblical times, Jewish boys have been circumcised on the eighth day after birth. This circumcision ritual is a profound experience for the entire family. However, to the rest of the world, a few questions might arise about this practice. For instance, when did circumcision start in the Bible, and why do Jews circumcise their boys?
Is Circumcision Religious?
Is circumcision biblical? This is the question that most people would want to know the answer to. Circumcision originated from religious books like the Torah, so yes, it’s definitely religious. While modern-day circumcision is done for many reasons, the practice originated from religion, and Jews perform it because it’s an instruction from God.
When Did Circumcision Start in the Bible?
Circumcision is first mentioned in the book of Genesis in the Torah and the Bible. This answers the question, “is circumcision biblical?” As per these books, this practice came to be because of a command given to Abraham by God to circumcise the flesh of the foreskin. From that point, circumcision has been viewed as a sign of the Eternal Covenant between God and Abraham. This covenant was also passed on to all of Abraham’s descendants. The instructions given in the Torah make it clear that every Jewish boy is supposed to be circumcised on the eighth day of life. According to the same text, those who won’t obey this commandment will be cut off from the Jewish people.
Why Do Jews Circumcise their Boys?
The Torah doesn’t give a clear reason when it comes to the question, “why do Jews circumcise their boys.” In fact, Abraham just circumcised his own son without asking why this practice was necessary. All that you can gather is that the answer to the question, “is circumcision religious?” is definitely a yes. To this day, many Rabbinic sages have tried to find a reason why circumcision is carried out. Because of the rather unconventional nature of this demand, many people are still curious about the necessity of circumcision even to this day.
Most of the explanations that are available when it comes to why Jews circumcise their boys are more spiritual than logical. In fact, the Rabbis have done a rather admirable job of infusing the act with spiritual depth so that it’s about more than just the act of removing a piece of skin. What’s clear is that during biblical times, circumcision was the single most defining act for the young Israelite nation. This is the practice that was used to distinguish Jewish men from the rest of the people.
As far as traditional Judaism is concerned, contemporary debates about health and sanitary issues are not really part of the reasons why Jews circumcise their boys. While this is not simply a medical procedure, they don’t seem to do it for any practical reason. Instead, it’s viewed as a sacred act that binds Jewish boys to past generations and the generations to come.
Jewish Circumcision and the Brit Milah
Jewish boys are circumcised during a religious circumcision ceremony known as the brit milah. This ceremony is also known as a bris. The brit milah dates back to the book of Genesis and is held to signify the covenant between Jews and God. This is one of the most significant pieces of tradition that connects the generations.
Traditionally, the circumcision age is at the eighth day of life. It’s important to note that even if this day falls on the Shabbat or a Jewish holiday, the ceremony is still conducted. The only reason why this ceremony would be postponed is if there are medical problems that prevent the baby from being circumcised. In such instances, the ceremony will be postponed until the boy is deemed healthy enough. Once the Jewish bris is postponed, it will then be scheduled for any other day as long as it’s not Shabbat or a Jewish holiday.
Where Is the Brit Milah Held?
There are no specific guidelines when it comes to where the brit milah should be held. However, the Jews usually hold this ceremony in a synagogue during morning services. In some instances, the brit milah will also be carried out at the parents’ or grandparents’ homes.
Who Performs the Brit Milah?
The circumcision ritual is performed by a mohel – generally pronounced so it rhymes with boil. This person can either be male or female. A female mohel is known as a mohelet. However, in Orthodox Jewish practices, a female is not allowed to assume this role. There are some mohels who take up this role full-time and others who are also physicians, rabbis, cantors, or midwives. To be a mohel, one has to be properly trained to master the Jewish laws concerning circumcision. Apart from religion, the mohel is also trained in modern surgical hygiene.
As a family, you can choose a mohel based on personal preference. Most people nowadays prefer a mohel who is also a surgical practitioner like Dr. Andrew Krinsky Medical Practice. As a mohel, Dr. Krinsky can also help you choose a meaningful Hebrew name. Apart from that, he can answer most of your questions. For instance, you might want to know things like, is circumcision religious, and is circumcision biblical? The mohel can also answer questions like, “when did circumcision start in the bible.”
To make the process personal and meaningful, with South Florida religious circumcision, you can invite the mohel to your place or any other location of your choosing. When the ceremony is complete, you will then receive a beautiful naming certificate.
There are several benefits to working with a mohel who is also a Board Certified M.D. Surgeon. For starters, you will rest assured that whoever is carrying out the process has the necessary expertise and experience. Surgeons also know how to ensure that your baby is comfortable and that the process is as atraumatic as possible.
What Exactly Happens at a Brit Milah?
The brit milah process is not complicated. When the ceremony starts, one person carries the boy and hands him to the sandek who holds the baby during the brit milah. Usually, this can be the baby’s grandfather or grandmother.
Before carrying out the circumcision, the mohel recites a Jewish blessing. As soon as the mohel is done, he will proceed to carry out the circumcision as the child’s father recites yet another Jewish prayer. All the prayers that are recited during circumcision are found in the Sefaria, a Hebrew text that contains circumcision blessings.
Once the mohel has finished the procedure, he then takes a cup of wine and recites another prayer for the boy as he gives him a Hebrew name. The mohel will also place a single drop of the wine in the boy’s mouth. The rest of the wine is taken by the father, who will also save some for the mother. The brit milah is usually followed by a festive meal. After the meal, special prayers are recited to bless the boy, the mohel, the boy’s parent, and the sandek.
What do you think about Jewish boys and circumcision? Do you think there is more to this practice than just religion? If you have questions about circumcision and why you should circumcise your child, contact us for advice. We have helped a lot of couples who needed to have their children circumcised and you can rest assured we will provide you with all the answers you need.