It is a Jewish custom that on the first Friday evening after the birth of the child, we conduct a shalom zachar, during which we welcome the child to the world. The shalom zachar is held at that time, even in a case when the brit had been postponed. At this "party" it is customary to serve chickpeas, wine and cake. Those who attend, give blessings to the child and its parents.


The night before the brit, it is customary for the father of the child to remain awake the entire night and to recite special passages from the kabbalah and Psalms. This custom to stay awake is called "Vach Nacht" – wake night. The purpose of staying awake is to guard the baby from forces that seek to disrupt the observance of this important mitzvah.

Small children are invited to recite the "Shema" at the baby’s bedside. The passage 'HaMalach HaGoel' (The angel who redeems me..) is recited.


The day on which the brit is to take place is a very festive occasion. It is mandatory that the brit take place during the daytime, and preferably in the early morning hours.

It is important that throughout each and every step of the brit ceremony there should be a minyan – a quorum of at least ten Jewish males above the age of thirteen – present. The reason for this is, because it is a greater honor for G-d and for the mitzvah when a large amount of people is present.

A brit may be carried out on shabbat or even on Yom Kippur, providing that that is the eighth day from birth. If, however, the brit had to be postponed (due to medical reasons such as jaundice or sickness), then it can not be done on shabbat or Jewish holidays. In addition, a baby that was delivered through an unnatural birth (such as a Caesarian section) has its brit done on the eighth day from birth, providing that it is not a shabbat or Yom Tov.


The brit is performed by a specially trained "mohel". He must be an expert in the way he performs this important mitzvah because if it is not done correctly, the removal of the negative energies is not properly accomplished. It is, therefore, important to choose an Orthodox, G-d-fearing mohel in order to insure that the brit is done to perfection.

The sandek is the person given the honor of holding the child throughout the brit. According to Jewish mysticism, the sandek plays a special role in protecting the child from negative forces and in preserving positive energy. It is, therefore, important to choose a righteous person as the sandek. If the sandek is a righteous man, he can help in drawing down a holy soul for the child. In fact, the child takes the good character traits from the sandek and shares a spiritual connection with him.


A special chair is prepared at every brit in honor of Eliyohu HaNavi, Elijah the Prophet, which is located to the right of the sandek. The child is placed on this chair while the mohel recites certain blessings. The father then lifts the child and places it in the lap of the sandek.

Elijah serves a spiritual purpose at the brit: He is a positive energy force coming to take the place of the Evil Prosecutor. As mentioned earlier, the greater the mitzvah, the more the unholy forces attempt to place accusations upon the Jew, and, ultimately to prevent him from fulfilling the mitzvah. Elijah transforms the prosecutor into a defense attorney, so to speak. The purpose of his arrival is to remove all negative energy.

However, in order for Elijah to be present, we must physically summon and announce his presence and designate a special chair for him.


The people chosen as "Godfather" and "Godmother" are usually a husband and wife. The child’s mother hands the baby to the Godmother, thus signifying her consent to entrust the child to G-d’s care. The Godfather then takes the child and hands him to a designated individual whose honor it is to place the infant on the Chair of Elijah.

When the child is brought in to the area in which the brit will take place, all present should rise and remain standing throughout the duration of the brit. Only the sandek will remain sitting throughout the brit, while holding the infant on his lap.

After having placed the child on the sandek’s lap, the father then designates the mohel as his emissary to perform the circumcision on his son. (The reason for this is that according to the Torah, the father himself is responsible to perform the circumcision on his son. However, since most fathers are illiterate in these areas, they are permitted to appoint an emissary to take his place. A concept in Jewish law pertaining to many areas, is that "a man’s emissary is considered to be the sender of that emissary himself.) After the father recites the appropriate blessings, everyone present says: "Just as he (the child) has entered into this covenant, so may he enter the covenant of Torah learning, marriage, and of good deeds."


As far as pain is concerned, Jewish law does not permit the use of a Gomco clamp or the like -- tools used in most hospitals – being that it is too traumatic, as it crushes all of the flesh and veins in the area. A mohel, on the other hand, uses much simpler instruments – some using no other tool than the knife used for the actual cutting of the skin! The mohel’s method is the least painful and the most skillful as it is done with an extremely sharp knife and takes less than half a minute to complete.

According to kabbalah, the few drops of blood that are discharged during the brit, remove any remaining impurities and completes the task of removing the negative energy to its maximum.

It is interesting to note that Crown Prince Charles, son of Queen Elizabeth and heir to the British throne, was circumcised by a mohel, rather than by a doctor. Apparently, the Royal Family had asked for a mohel, trusting his expertise over that of the Royal physician.


Once the brit is finished, certain prayers are recited and the official naming of the baby takes place. We do not name the child before the brit, being that the Divine soul begins to shine its light only from the moment of the brit when the body and soul are fully united. Therefore, since the Jewish name is connected to the soul, the brit is the most appropriate time to give the child its Jewish name. It is customary to name the child after a righteous person, as the name influences the character of a child.


After the brit is completed, the food – kosher, of course – is served. This meal is called a seudas mitzvah, a meal honoring a Divine commandment, and everybody should, therefore, wash appropriately for the consumption of bread and partake of the meal. If the circumcision is performed on a fast day, the meal is put off until the evening when the fast is broken.

After the meal, the participants recite a special series of prayers, including a prayer asking that as a reward for properly fulfilling the mitzvah of circumcision, we should merit to speedily see the coming of the Messiah and the end of human strife.

After the circumcision, the foreskin must be buried. The reason for this is that since the foreskin contains within it the maximum concentration of negative energy, this energy must be transformed into positivity. Earth causes things to grow; when a seed is buried, it ultimately produces good fruit. Therefore, when the foreskin is buried, it can then be transformed into positivity. (It is for this reason that the Jewish religion forbids cremation: In ashes there is no potential for positivity as nothing can grow from it.)


Another interesting Jewish ceremony is that of "Pidyon HaBen". The Torah tells us that all firstborn sons that "open the mother’s womb", belong to the Kohen, or High Priest. It is, therefore, our obligation to redeem our firstborn sons from the Kohen on the 31st day of the boy’s life. This ceremony should take place on its appropriate day, unless the 31st day happens to be shabbat or a Jewish holiday, in which case it should be postponed until the following day.

Pidyon HaBen applies only to males who are firstborn; that is, there were no previous miscarriages. In addition, the child must be born naturally, and not through any unnatural methods such as a C-section. If the mother is a daughter of a Kohen or a Levite, or if the father is a Kohen or a Levite, the child does not have to be redeemed. If a grown man was not yet redeemed by his father, he should then redeem himself from a Kohen.