“Our son was born on Saturday. Can we have his bris on Shabbat?”

created at: 2012-02-21

Less than a year ago, my husband and I were fortunate to welcome our first child into the world, a son. We also knew that on the eighth day of his life he would have a brit milah, a bris. Dressed in his best little outfit, newly bathed, held tight in our arms, with our eyes closed, we brought him into the covenant of the Jewish people.

In the Torah, we are taught, “G-d further said to Abraham, ‘As for you, you and your offspring to come throughout the ages shall keep My covenant. Such shall be the covenant between Me and you and your offspring to follow which you shall keep: 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. And throughout the generations, every male among you shall be circumcised at the age of eight days” (Genesis 17:9-12).

The bris is a physical representation of the pact between G-d and the Jewish people. It is a sign of G-d’s love and caring and humanity’s commitment and dedication. In addition to the medical procedure, the child is given his Hebrew name at the bris, linking him once again to generations that have come before.

The importance of the bris is shown by reinforcing its timing. Whereas certain customs or rituals are delayed because of parameters in the Jewish calendar, a bris is only delayed for medical reasons. A bris can occur on Shabbat, a Holy Day, and even Yom Kippur, if this is the eighth day of the baby’s life.

created at: 2012-01-24Given this, if a baby is born on Saturday during daylight hours, the bris will be the following Saturday, usually in the morning.

Jodi Seewald Smith is the rabbi at Temple Chayai Shalom, a Reform synagogue in South Easton.