There is a lot to plan and do when a baby is born in the Jewish community and there is certainly a lot to celebrate.
One of the first items on the agenda if the baby is a healthy boy, is to schedule a brit milah, followed by a baby naming ceremony. Luckily, we have a certified mohel right here in Edmonton – Rabbi Yaacov Laredo – who brings his expertise and sensitivity to the ceremony of traditional circumcision.
A Brit Milah is the surgical removal of the foreskin of a newborn male baby that occurs on the eighth day of the child’s life. Traditional ritual circumcision is an expression of Jewish identity, an act of faith and commitment. The ceremony can take place at home, at synagogue or at a party hall and it is done in order to connect the child with the generations before him dating all the way back to Abraham.
“More than any other Jewish ritual, Brit Milah is an expression of Jewish identity. Its fulfillment symbolizes an affirmation of faith in Abraham’s ancient and still vibrant covenant with G-d,” explains Rabbi Laredo. “Through ritual circumcision, parents forge their precious child as another link in the continuing chain of our people that has proudly survived the challenges to its physical and spiritual existence for thousands of years.”
Many ask, “If G-d wanted man circumcised, why didn’t He create us that way? Rabbi Laredo provides this explanation. “Rabbi Akiva taught us that G-d wants us to be clothed, yet suits and dresses don’t grow on sheep. G-d provides us with raw materials and it is up to man to perfect and enhance them. Food, clothes, and even our places of habitat are all commodities that we put together from what we are provided with by our generous Creator.
“Man, too, needs to be perfected. The act of ritual circumcision brings man to that perfection. The Torah itself uses the word ‘perfect’ in recording G-d’s command to Abraham to circumcise himself. “Go before Me and become perfect,” (Genesis 17:1).
“The Brit on an infant is the culmination of his creation. First, there is the wonder of conception, then the miracle of the formation of the embryo as the mother nurtures the newborn within her, and finally a child is born. The child is complete but is not yet perfect. There is one final step to completion – Brit Milah, The Covenant of Circumcision.”
The Brit Milah is an opportune time to celebrate the simcha of the new addition to the family. Traditionally, we simply inform people of the time and place of the Brit, as opposed to explicitly inviting them. It is also an ideal occasion to honor one’s male relatives and close friends to take part in the ceremony. It isn’t necessary to give out all the honours; the only one which is absolutely needed is the Sandak who assists the Mohel by holding the baby on his lap. Kabalah teaches that the child draws upon the good character traits from the Sandak and shares a spiritual connection with him. It is therefore customary to give this special honor to the baby’s grandfather or Rabbi of the family.
Traditionally, the parents engage a Mohel, ritual circumciser, to perform the Brit. A Mohel is a person who is specially trained in the medical and surgical techniques of circumcision. In addition to being an expert in his field, the Mohel is also an expert in the Jewish laws and customs pertaining to Brit Milah. “It is important to choose an Orthodox, G-d-fearing Mohel in order to ensure that the Brit is done to perfection,” notes Rabbi Laredo. “A doctor’s medical circumcision, usually performed in the hospital within the first few days after birth, does not fulfill the requirements of a Brit Milah and is not considered valid according to Jewish law. The Brit must be performed on the eighth day by a Jewish person who is specially trained to function as a Mohel. The Mohel cuts the foreskin to expose the corona. Then he bandages the wound to help it heal.”
The ceremony is followed by a celebratory meal and the naming of the baby.
Rabbi Yaacov Laredo, Certified Mohel, is a member of the Rabbinic Faculty of the Edmonton Community Kollel. In 2011, he received his Brit Milah training and certification in Jerusalem, Israel by world-renowned specialist and teacher of traditional and ritual circumcision, Rabbi Yossef Oren. Rabbi Laredo studied Talmudic Law for many years in Jerusalem, and in 2012 received Rabbinic Ordination from Rabbi Yitzchak Berkovits, Dean of the Jerusalem Kollel. He also is trained and certified in Shechita and Hashgacha.
Rabbi Laredo brings to the ceremony a sense of security and tradition. His composure and supportive guidance makes parents feel at ease, enabling them to celebrate this momentous event. He performs circumcisions all over Canada, and has been flown in by parents who are seeking a combination of security, expertise and satisfaction.
Rabbi Laredo is fluent in English, French and Hebrew. He is more than happy to answer all questions pertaining to circumcision and your new child, as well as questions you may have on Judaism and Jewish tradition as a whole. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 780-903-7488.
Check out his website at www.communitymohel.com