It is written in Genesis, (17; 10-12): "This shall be the covenant that you shall keep between Me and you and your children after you: you shall circumcise all males. And you shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin, and this shall be the sign of the covenant between Me and you. And at eight days old you shall circumcise all males for all generations..."

Circumcision was first performed some 3,800 years ago by our forefather, Abraham, on himself, at the age of 99. Only after having been circumcised was he fit to father the Jewish nation. When his son, Isaac, was born, Abraham circumcised him on the eighth day, in accordance with G-d’s commandment to do so.

Since then, brit Milah must be performed on all Jewish baby boys, on the eighth day after birth. It can, however, be carried out after the eighth day, should medical reasons warrant postponing it. However, it cannot be done earlier than the eighth day.


The word brit means "covenant" and the word Milah means "circumcision". Circumcision is that which permanently establishes a covenant between G-d and the Jew. (A Jewish female is born already circumcised, so to speak, possessing this holy sign within her from the moment of birth.)

G-d wanted to permanently affix a symbol on the bodies of the people He chose to be called by His name. Circumcision was designated as the symbol of this covenant, being that this is the source from which the perpetuation of the species emanates.

One might ask: If G-d desired that all males be circumcised, why then did He not simply create the human being already circumcised?

The answer to that is as follows: The reason G-d does not create the human being complete already in the mother’s womb, is in order to indicate that just as the physical aspects of the body can be perfected by human deeds (such as circumcision), so too is it within the person’s ability to perfect the soul by correcting oneself spiritually through the covenant of circumcision.


The story is told of King David that he was once standing, unclothed, in the bathhouse, and was, therefore, not wearing his yarmulke or tzitzit. He sighed, "woe is me that I stand here naked of mitzvoth." He then saw his brit Milah and was comforted by the fact that even when the person has no other mitzvoth upon him, the circumcision is always there.


At the time when the Jewish people fulfilled the commandment of circumcision, they were informed of the good tidings that the sanctuary will be built among them, as G-d says: "And they shall make for me a sanctuary and I will dwell in their midst."


Kabbalah, (Jewish mysticism), explains the importance of the brit being carried out specifically on the eighth day, as follows:

The eight days between the birth of the child and the brit always include at least one Shabbat. Shabbat corresponds to the experience of perfect harmony with nature. The number 7, represents the natural order of the world, (i.e. there are seven days in a week; G-d created the world in six days and rested on the seventh day -- the shabbat -- the holiest day of the week, the one which completes the order of the creation of the world.)

The brit takes place on the eighth day, indicating that the act of circumcision represents something that is higher than nature. After having attained perfection with nature during the first seven days, now, on the eighth day, the child reaches the level of the soul that is capable of connecting with the G-dly light that transcends nature.

Thus, through the act of circumcision, the Jew is given the power and ability throughout life, to overcome all obstacles in his service of G-d; he is able to rise above his own natural limitations.


There are those who plan to have the circumcision take place on a Sunday, because of conveniences, though it may actually be before or after the eighth day. They fail to understand the importance of the eighth day:

Kabbalah explains that there are positive energies and negative energies in this world. These negative energies are called kelipot, shells, being that they obscure the light of G-dliness and do not allow it to shine in the world.

Negative energy, however, is only able to derive its strength from whatever positive energy it can capture. Thus, wherever holiness is present, unholy forces strive to dwell there as well.

Prior to the eighth day, the soul of the child is not yet fully within the child. Therefore, the negative energies have nothing on which to feed. On the eighth day, however, when body and soul unite, the total energy arrives.

The greatest concentration of the positive energies comes to rest upon the male organ, being that it possesses the potential to create life.

Since there is now an opening for positive energies to flow, the negative energy then comes and tries to attach itself to that opening. In this case, the concentration of the negative energies is in the foreskin, thus making it the embodiment of negative energy in the child.

This being so, only when the brit is done on the eighth day, is the greatest concentration of negative energy removed from the child forever.

If, however, the brit is performed before the eighth day, when the body and soul are not yet completely united, all that is being accomplished is the removal of a useless piece of flesh. At that point, there is no great concentration of negative forces in the child that can be removed along with the foreskin. Then on the eighth day, when the negative forces do actually come, there is no longer a removable vessel to which they can attach themselves. The negative energy then remains in its potential state and gives its negative feedback to the child.


When the foreskin is properly removed on the eighth day, all negative energy is annihilated and will never be able to have control over the person. On a metaphysical level, we cut off the ability for the potential of negative energy to become actualized in the child, thus giving him the extra strength necessary to overcome any problems he will experience throughout his life.

Kabbalah explains, that in this world there are many obstacles which conceal G-dliness. It is our job to remove these blocks, thus revealing the G-dly light. Circumcision is an act of removing unholiness. By physically removing the foreskin, we are spiritually removing and eliminating undesirable character traits, depressive tendencies and so on. We eliminate from the body of the child, forces which might try to cultivate overindulgence in physical pleasures, etc. In short, we give the child a boost and head start in fighting life’s battles; it can be compared to the concept of immunization.

The importance of the brit being carried out specifically on the eighth day can not be stressed enough. With no intention to dramatize the matter, it can be compared to detecting cancer. If cancer is caught during its early stages, it can be easily removed, and its potential to spread is thus eliminated. If, however, it is not detected early, even if it is later removed, it can still spread, G-d forbid, and the task of then challenging it, is much more complicated.

It is of interest to note that penile cancer is almost unheard of by Jewish men. Based on these observations, circumcision throughout the world has now become a routine medical practice.

Although circumcision by Jews is not performed because of health benefits, but rather solely because G-d commanded us to do so, we are nevertheless confident that whatever G-d commanded us to do, is ultimately for our benefit and will only contribute to the physical and spiritual well-being of the person. After all, G-d commands us in the Torah to maintain a healthy body and is called by the title, "Healer of all flesh".