Bris Milah

what is the Bris milah?

The Bris Milah ritual circumcision is entering the recipient (the infant) into the covenant that Hashem made with Avraham Avinu (Abraham our forefather) through ritual circumcision. Every male Jew is required to have a Bris Milah regardless of his age, size, or condition. Your child deserves the merit of entering into the age old covenant G-d has made with Abraham our forefather. Bris is known as “The Covenant of Avraham Avinu”, because Avraham Avinu was the first among man commanded by Hashem to receive and pass on for all coming generations the Mitzvah of Bris Milah. As the Torah states in: ספר בראשית, פרק י”ז

Hashem said to Avraham “and as for you, you shall keep my covenant – you and your offspring after you throughout their generations. This is my covenant which you shall keep between me and you and your offspring after you; every male among you shall be circumcised. You shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin, and that shall be the sign of the covenant between me and you. At the age of eight days every male among you shall be circumcised throughout your generations.

In actuality, there is no “logical” argument for cutting a piece of flesh off a helpless baby. Yet circumcision has been practiced on Jewish males for close to 4,000 years, ever since Avraham Avinu was so commanded by God. Why does the foreskin need to be removed?

In Kabalistic terms, the foreskin symbolizes a barrier which prevents growth. For example, when the Torah speaks about getting close to God, it calls upon us to “remove the Orlah, the foreskin of your heart” (Deut. 10:16). When Abraham circumcised himself at age 99, God added the letter “heh” to his name. “Heh” is part of God’s own name, signifying that through Bris Milah, the human being adds a dimension of spirituality to the physical body. It is a foundation of Judaism that we are to control our animal desires and direct them into spiritual pursuits. Nowhere does a person have more potential for expressing “barbaric” behavior than on this organ. That’s why the Bris is done on this specific organ. If we bring holiness into our life there, then all other areas will follow.

Another aspect of circumcision is that it is integral to Jewish identity. Bris is the sign of the covenant. So a child who is not circumcised has basically lost his spiritual attachment to the Jewish people.

Interesting to note, prothrombin and vitamin K, do not reach peak levels in the blood until the eighth day of life. Prothrombin levels are normal at birth, drop to very low levels in the next few days, and return to normal at the end of the first week. One study showed that by the eighth day, prothrombin levels reach 110 percent of normal. This may be one reason why the biblical commandment of Bris Milah only begins on the eighth day and doesn’t fulfill its obligation if performed before then.

By correctly fulfilling this first Mitzvah for your son, you are guaranteeing your child a place amongst the Jewish nation and by doing so, you are symbolizing your affirmation and faith in Hashem’s commandments to its highest possible level.