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Ritual Circumcision





Ritual Circumcision
Almost Painless
A Jewesh Legacy
Adult Circumcision
A Great Mitzvah
The Proper Time
Who and How
Customary Procedurs
Circumcision Insights
Honorees at Bris
Chabad Customs
Bris Photo Tour 1
Bris Photo Tour 1


Historical Background

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    The positive commandment of circumcision is found in the first Book of the Bible 1. This act is referred to as a Covenant with G-d. He instructs Abraham to circumcise himself and his children and to continue the practice down through the generations. As a matter of fact, the Talmud characterizes Abraham as the first convert 2, since he was the first person to be instructed by G-d to circumcise himself 3.

       This commandment is the only one that is literally sealed in the flesh and is therefore unique. It serves as a constant reminder to each Jew that he is a descendant of Abraham and a servant of the Al-Mighty.

       The Jewish Nation has observed this commandment since its inception, some 3500 years ago. Jews adhered to it at the cost of martyrdom in times of oppression.

Jewish Religious Law

       Each Jewish’ father is obligated to arrange to have his sons circumcised when they are eight days old. It is traditional to celebrate this first milestone with a party attended by friends and family. Ritual circumcision is not merely a surgical procedure, but, rather, is a highly significant religious ceremony.

       The sole valid reason for postponing a circumcision (after the eighth day of the child’s life) is the child’s health. Maimonides reiterated the Talmudic ruling: circumcising a sick child is forbidden. We never risk a child’s life, since it is impossible to rectify the loss of human life 4.

       The fact that circumcision is performed on the sexual organ is significant. This organ is representative of the body’s urges and this procedure indicates that we must control and sublimate these urges and conform them to the Will of G-d.

       The guidelines for the practice of circumcision are derived from the Bible, Talmud, and Jewish Law. The technique used is unique and has been approved and recommended as being based on sound surgical principles by many physicians. A ”Mohel” (the Hebrew word for the person who performs ritual circumcision is a master surgeon in his particular area of expertise. The process itself takes less than 30 seconds during which the ”Mohel” first recites a Hebrew blessing, then amputates the foreskin with a sterilized scalpel, quickly splits the mucous with (disinfected) thumbnails, applies suction, and completes the procedure by bandaging the wound. The essential procedures of the ritual circumcision are 1) the removal of the prepuce and 2) the splitting and peeling back of the mucus surface, thus exposing the glands penis.

       Jewish religious law opposes the use of a clamp that causes complete homeostasis, since part of the Jewish ritual is the ”Dam Bris” (blood of the Covenant), which is considered a vital part of the procedure. In addition, the required method is one that minimizes the child’s pain, an essential element under Jewish law.

       Certain children (hemophilic) may not be circumcised, as stated in the Talmud 5 and in the Codes of Religious Law compiled by Maimonides and Karo. There are a number of medical criteria used to diagnose jaundice as an ailment that requires a delay of the circumcision.

       This ritual has been found to provide a number of unexpected benefits, as in the case of many commandments found in the Bible. Circumcision has been found to inhibit the development of penile and cervical cancer and acts as a method of prophylaxis by facilitating personal hygiene.

       All in all, there is no doubt as to the safety, efficacy, and reliability of ritual circumcision.     

1 Genesis 17:7

2 Tractate Chagiga 3a

3 Ibid., Tosafos

4 Yad, Nilah 1:1B

5 Tractate Yenamos 64b  


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