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Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Not Understanding the Bris

Hat tip to Susanne Goldstone-Rosenhouse who brought this to my attention. The link she shared was here, though I have linked to the video on YouTube below

In this day and age, much credit goes to all Jews who continue Jewish traditions. Those who are entrenched in them and understand the reasons for what we do probably have an easier time with it, while those who are either traditional, less observant, or unaffiliated get credit for maintaining traditions - especially when the connection to what is called the "Mesorah" (heritage) is not as ingrained as it is for those with a Yeshiva education and upbringing.

So this video, coming out of Israel, is - in a sense - not a shock. At the same time, it completely misses the point of what this is all about.

The parents of this baby certainly get the "bad taste of the year" award. But seriously, how dare you not "bring" the baby (as in, carry him) to his bris? The bris is about kedusha - holiness - and while I randomly get emails and facebook notifications from the anti-circumcision wackos who clearly do not understand why we do this - if this is the image of what leads into a bris, I too want no part in it.

We circumcise our sons because we were commanded to by God. Abraham circumcised himself and the people in his household. He circumcised his son Yitzchak, when the baby was 8 days old. He forged a covenant with God which was transmitted to his descendants through this mark in the flesh. And the promises, which have sustained the Jewish people, are enumerated in Genesis 17

At Sinai it became more than a tradition for the Abrahamic family - it became a commandment for the Children of Israel forever (as per the interpretation of where all mitzvot come from, even those seemingly given before Sinai, according to Maimonides).

The "kedusha" (holiness) aspect is why we continue to submit our sons to this, what thousands of pages about bris milah have been written to underscore, and what the bris experience should be all about. And holiness requires reverence, and good taste, and, in the context of a newborn, loving and caring hands.

[As to the question of whether a bris can be done without a kvatter - the answer is Yes. Every aspect of the ceremony we have today, with the exception of the circumcision itself, is a custom that does not make or break the bris. If parents were to want to have the bris done privately, without anyone present but themselves and the mohel, that is fine, and the bris is good.]

ps. The over the top part reminds me of this. But the fireworks and the music (which we thankfully can't hear in the video) takes this to a whole new level.

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