New Brit Milah (excerpts)

Found In: Covenant & Naming Rituals

Tags: shehekheyanu , covenant, circumcision, Martin Buber

By Leslie and James Gurland | Complete Ceremony

For every person born into this world represents something new, something that never existed before, something original and unique. It is the duty of every person to know and consider that he is unique in his particular character and that there has never been anyone like him before. For if there had been something like him before, there would be no need for him to be in the world. Every single person is a new thing and is called upon to fulfill his particularity in the world.

    —adapted from Martin Buber

Thank you for sharing in this simchah (joyous occassion) with us. For those of you who have witnessed a bris before, we hope that you wi ll learn something new from this booklet that we have prepared. For those of you who have never been to a bris, we hope that this booklet will help you understand the significance of the Brit Milah ceremony.

At one point, we were struggling with the issue of having a privage brit milah with just the family or having a more public ceremony. During this time, Leslie happened to be reading a book by Dr. David Elcott called A Sacred Journey. It was from the book that we realized how important it was to have a ceremony and to celebrate with community.

Judaism recognizes that no one person can make himself whole. Accepting the love of another and returning it is another way one experiences God's presence. The Midrash relates that when Israelites stood at Sinai, the Torah records that God resides in their midst only when the people looked into each others eyes (Numbers 14:14). God speaks with them only when they stand "face to face" (Dueteronomy 5:4) that is, two images of God aware of the divinity of each other.

The world is filled with potential others with whom one can create relationship: the family within which one is nurtured, the lover with whom one builds a life, children who are both products of the love and new sources of loving, friends who are soulmates, colleagues with whom one works. Judaism calls on human beings to increase K'dushah (holiness) in their lives and in the world through relationships in which God can also be present. There is no ath to the Messiah when one seels and struggles alone. The chasidic sage Rabbi Levi Yithak of Bereditchev said on this matter: "Whether a person really loves God can be determined by the love that person shares with others." By linking our lives to others we transcend our finite existence and become closer to God.

    —Dr David Elcott

Son is brought into the room

Mother lights the candle

Mother and father:

With all my heart, with all my soul, with all my might
I thank you, God for the gift of this wonderful child.
I pray for the continued health of this child.
I pray for him to be strong in mind and body.
To grow steadily and sturdily in a home filled with joy.
I pray for him to become a person who greets the world with passion, courage, humility, humor and patience.
with all my heart, with all my soul with all my might
I pray for God to watch over me and my family.
I pray for the ability to love and nurture this child
to provide for him and educate him.
to understand him and allow him the freedom to grow.

    —Adapted from a prayer written by Rabbi Judy Shanks

Mother:

We feel truly blessed that you have all taken the time to come and share in this wonderful moment in our lives.

Someone once said it takes a village to raise a child. I believe that this village is made up of family, friends, colleagues and the community at large. Therefore, we thought it only fitting that we ask a few people (representing family, friends, colleagues, and the community at large) to offer blessings to our child.

Father:

Representing our family, we call upon our siblings and our son's Godparents to offer a few words.

Mother and father:

How shall we bless him?
With what will this child be blessed?
With a smily like light.
With eyes large and wide, to see every flower, animal and bird,
and a heart to feel all he sees.

    — The New Jewish Baby Book

Grandparents:

Go placidly amid the noise and the haste and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible. Without surrender, be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; amd listen to others, even the dull and ignorant; they too have their story. Avoid loud an d agressive persons; they are vexations to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter,for always there will be greater or lesser persons than yourself. Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your career whoever humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world if full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism. Be yourself, especially do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment, it is perennial as the grass. Take kindly the counsel of years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in the sudden misfortune. But you do no distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many faces are born of fatigue and l oneliess. Beyone a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive him to be. And whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

    —Desiderata (Max Ehrmann)

Father:

May you live to see your world fulfilled
May your destiny be for worlds to come
May you trust in generations past and yet to be
May you live to see your world fulfilled
May your eyes shine with the light of holy words
And your face reflect the brightness of the heavens
May your lips ever speak wisdom, your fulfillment be in justice. Even as you ever yearn to listen to the words of the
Holy ancient one of old.
May you live to see your world fulfilled.
May your destiny be for worlds still to come
May you trust in generations past and yet to be
May you live to see your world fulfilled
May your heart be filled with intuition
May your words be filled with insight
May songs of praise be upon your tongue, vision straight before you.
Even as you ever yearn to listen to words of the holy ancient one of old
May you live to see your w orld fulfilled
    —Talmud Brakhot (Translation Lawrence Kushner)

Father:

Representing all of our co-workers, I call upon___________to say a few words:
May your eyes sparkle with the light of the Torah and your ears hear the music of its words.
May the space between each letter of the scrolls bring warmth and comfort to your soul.
May the syllables draw holiness from your heart, and may this holiness be gentle and soothing to you and God's creatures.
May your study be passionate and meanings bear more meanings until life itself arrays itself before you as a dazzling wedding feast.
And may your conversation, even the commonplace, be a blessing to all as you listen to your words and see the Torah glowing on your face.

Mother:

We feel truly blessed to be able to have this ceremony in the same synagoge in which we were married just over 10 years ago. The AgudithIsrael community is one that is respected throughout the country and we are thankful we are a part of it. Thank you Rabbi __________and cantor ______________for making AgudithIsrael such a wonderful place.

In addition to our spiritual home, we consider ourselves part of the federated Jewish community.

In the current times, even child bearing is not immune to the marketing machine out there. When getting ready for our baby we decided we wanted two things. The first to focus on a more spiritual birth versus what we needed to buy or how we needed to decorate the room. We wanted to create a sacred space into which our child would be born. The second was we wanted to have natural child birth.

We decided to hire a doula which means a birthing coach.

She helped us create a sacred space into which our child would be born, doing everything from reminding us to bring ritual objects to the hospital, to being there for most of our 21 hours and making sure the baby was brought to me when I was in recovery, she made what could have turned into a purely clinical process into which the birth that we had hope for. Therefore, I would like to ask her to say a few words.

The doula speaks.

The mohel explains the brit and performs the ceremony.

Parents offer the following blessing:

O God and God of our ancestors, we thank you for the precious gift of a new life and for the blessing of parenthood which allows us to share in the miracle of creation. Endow us with the wisdom and understanding, strenght and patience, that we may rear o ur son with care and affection. Strengthen us to raise him in the path of the Torah. Grant our song length of days and vigor of body and mind. May his life be one of happiness, goodness, wisdom. May he be in shining light and give help to all who know him.

Grandparents offer the following blessing:

We echo the prayers of our children. May the happiness which emanantes from them today forever fill their home and their family. May we help them to care for and nurture this child and continue to shower upon them the love and affection we first felt for them when they entered this world. We thank you, O God, for the miracle of life and for the length of our days and for enabling us to reach this day.

Father leads in the Shehechiyanu:

B'rukhah at Ya Eloheinu ruach ha-olam she-hechiyatnu v'kiy'matnu v'higia tnu la-z'man ha-zeh.

Barukh attah Adonai Eloheinu melekh ha-olam she-hechiyanu v'kiy'manu v'higianu la-z'man ha-zeh.

You are blessed, O God, sovereign of the world/Spirit of the Universe, for granting us life, for sustaining us, and for bringing us to this day.

Parents:

As is tradition in Agudath Israel, we would like to call up all the children to say the Kiddush and Motzi, or the blessings over the wine and bread. This will be led by the children of the synangogue.

Se'udat Mitzva

Used by permission of the authors