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What is a Bris/Brit Milah - ברית מילה?

The Bris milah is a religious ceremony within Judaism to welcome infant Jewish boys into a covenant between God and the Children of Israel through ritual circumcision performed by a mohel ("circumciser"). This happens on the eighth day of the child's life unless health reasons or certain specific conditions pertaining to the date, time, and conditions of birth vis-a-vis the Sabbath and/or holidays force a delay, in the presence of family and friends, followed by a celebratory meal (seudat mitzvah).
  • Who is obligated to be circumcised?
    A male born to a Jewish mother, or a male going through a conversion process.
  • Why do some call it a Bris and others a Brit?
    The word Brit/Bris is the same word pronounced differently. Brit is the Sefardik pronunciation, and Bris is the Ashkenazik pronunciation.
  • What does the word Brit/Bris mean?
    The literal meaning of the word Bris is covenant. The covenant we are referring to is the covenant G-d made with Abraham recorded in Genesis...
  • When should the bris be performed?
    Under normal circumstances, if the baby is healthy, the bris should be performed on the eighth day after birth. The day the baby is born, is considered day one. A day is defined as the time period between sundown and the following sundown. For example, Monday begins from sunset Sunday and continues until sunset Monday night. Therefore it would follow, that if a baby was born on Sunday night after sundown, the bris/brit would come out the following Monday. It would also hold true, that if a baby were born one minute before sunset on Sunday, the bris would fall out the following Sunday.
  • Are there exceptions to the rule?
    Yes. Friday night. If a baby was born naturally Friday evening between sunset and about forty five minutes after sunset, the bris/brit would be performed on Sunday. However, if the baby was born more than forty five minutes after sundown the baby would be circumcised on the following Shabbos/Shabbat/Saturday, providing the baby was born naturally, as opposed to a Cesarean Section, or through artificial insemination.
  • What is the ruling as far as a Cesarean Section?
    The only difference is that a baby born through a Cesarean Section, may not be circumcised on Shabbos/Shabbot/Saturday.
  • Can a bris/brit be performed on a Festival such as Rosh Hashanah , Yom Kippur, Sukkos/Sukkot, Simchat Torah, Passover, or Shavuos/Shavuot?
    Yes providing the baby was born the previous week forty five minutes after sunset, naturally, and not through artificial insemination.
  • When is the baby considered born?
    The definition of birth is considered in Jewish law when the majority of the head, or the majority of the body, not including the head, has exited the body of the happy mother.   This comes into play if there is a long labor, and the head came out a minute or two before sunset and the rest of the body followed after sunset. The bris would be performed corresponding to when the head came out.

 

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