Thursday, April 17, 2008

Brit Milah

I'm back to blogging. Life as a new parent, with family visiting is busy. Moreover, Jewish tradition asks that a newborn boy's name be kept private until the circumcision ceremony and it seemed odd to blog about our without using his name.

(Update: Just because blogs are so private, his name has been removed from this post after a few days.)

I'll start with what is interesting to the least number of people: his Brit Milah (Covenant of Circumcision) ceremony. There is surprisingly little uniformity to these, especially within Messianic Judaism. The ceremony below includes both what my wife and I found meaningful from the range of traditional options and some other parts that God said he wanted included when I prayed about it.

Blogger can do Hebrew text but I do not know how to make it do so, so I've removed the Hebrew in what follows.

In our son's ceremony our pediatrician was the mohel and I had roles of both father and rabbi. Normally the godparents have a role, but the godparents are out of town.

The room is set up with the medical equipment, "Eliyahu's chair" pillow, and kiddush supplies.

The baby is brought in. Everyone says:
Barooch ha-ba b'shem Adonai.
Blessed is he who comes in the name of Adonai.

The mohel reads about God's covenant with Avraham from Genesis 17, to summarize the reason for the occasion.

This is my covenant, which you shall keep, between me and you and your seed after you. Every male among you shall be circumcised: you shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskin.
It will be a token of a covenant between me and you: he who is eight days old will be circumcised among you, every male throughout your generations.

The rabbi reads about God's covenant promise to Avraham being God's Spirit, from Galatians 3 and Romans 8.

Even as Abraham "believed God, and it was counted to him for righteousness" [Genesis 15:6], now those who have trust are children of Abraham... The blessing of Abraham might come on the nations through Messiah Yeshua that all might receive the promise of the Spirit through trust... If you are Messiah's then you are Abraham's seed and heirs of this promise... The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God.

The father prays his approval:

Praised by Thou, O Lord our God, King of the Universe, who has sanctified us by your commandments, and has commanded us to bring him into the covenant of Abraham our father.

Blessed are you, Adonai, who gives from your glory to flesh and blood.

The mother prays the words with which Channa rejoiced over the birth of Shmuel:

My heart rejoices in Adonai, my horn is exalted in Adonai: my mouth is enlarged over my enemies; because I rejoice in Your salvation. There is none holy as Adonai; for there is none beside You; nor is there any rock like our God.

The rabbi places the baby on the pillow and prays a verse from Psalm 65.

Asher teev'char oot'kareev, yeesh-kon chatzay-reycha!
Nees-b'ah b'tov bayte-cha k'dosh hay-chale-cha.
Blessed are those you choose and bring within, that they dwell in your courtyards!
We will be satisfied with the goodness of your house, the Holy Place of your temple.

The parents together pray for their son: that he and God are faithful in their covenant, that he will be brought within God's presence, and that he will be filled with God's Spirit. The spontaneous prayer concludes with the Shehecheyanu.

Barooch atah Adonai, Elohaynoo Melech ha'olam,
shechey-anoo, v'keeyem-anoo, v'heegeey-anoo laz'man hazeh.
Blessed are you, Lord our God, King of the universe,
for giving us life, for sustaining us, and for enabling us to reach this season.

The mohel performs the operation and returns the baby to the arms of his mother.

Everyone says two kiddush prayers, then drinks.

Barooch atah Adonai, Elohaynoo Melech Ha'olam, no-tayn et meech-yayv l'nafshotaynoo.
Blessed are you, Lord our God, King of the Universe, who gives his sustenance to our souls.

Barooch atah Adonai, Elohaynoo Melech Ha'olam, boray p'ree hagafen.
Blessed are you, Lord our God, King of the Universe, who creates the fruit of the vine.

The rabbi formally announces the baby's name to the community by reading:

Preserve this son to his father and mother, and let his name be called in Israel , son of and . Let the father rejoice in he that comes from his loins, and the mother be glad with the fruit of her womb. May your father and mother rejoice and may she who gave birth to you exult.

His Hebrew name is .

The mother explains why the name was chosen. Everyone sings a couple songs. (These two activities allow for rejoicing and also provide time to make sure the healing has properly begun.)

Hodoo l’Adonai kee tov, kee l’olam chasdo.
Give thanks to the Lord for he is good, his mercy endures forever.

Seem shalom, tovah, oov'rachah, chayn, va'chesed v'rachaeem
alaynoo v'al kol Yisrael am-echa.

Put peace, goodness, blessing, favor, loving-kindness and mercy, on us and on all Israel your people.

The rabbi concludes with the Priestly Blessing over everyone.

Y'varech'cha Adonai v'yeesh-m'recha.
Ya-er Adonai panav ay-lecha vee'chu-necha.

Yeesa Adonai panav ay-lecha v'yasaym l'cha shalom.
May the Lord bless you and keep you.
May the Lord make his face shine upon you and show you his favor.
May the Lord lift up his face toward you and give you peace.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Congratulations on your son!
I'm not Jewish but I have been to one bris and I thought it was awful for that poor baby. I couldn't do that to my child personally. I work with someone who had Rabbi Hanan Sills in Eugene do some alternate naming ceremony called a Brit Shalom (I think). It was much easier for me to watch and it seemed a whole lot easier on the baby! LOL!
Boys are wonderful. Enjoy yours!!!