Ceremony for Hatafat Dam Brit Ha-ben

Found In: Conversion

Tags: mikveh, hatafat dam brit

Complete Ceremony

We created this simple ceremony to celebrate our 11 year old son's Hatafat Dam Brit (ritual taking of a drop of blood from the penis of a circumcised male prior to conversion to Judaism). He was raised in our interfaith family and was converting by his own choice. We wanted to honor the event.

Our rabbi had originally given us the name of an urologist who would do the procedure while the rabbi said the blessings, but this seemed too clinical to us, and we arranged for a mohel to come to our home.

Our rabbi, a mohel, and our immediate family gathered at our house. The rabbi and mohel each read some required blessings (sorry I don't have copies). Then, the rest follows.

A reading by the Father

When Abram was ninety-nine years old, God appeared to Abram and said to him, "I am El Shaddai. Walk in My ways and be blameless. I will establish My covenant between Me and you, and I will make you exceedingly numerous."1

Abram threw himself on his face; and God spoke to him further, "As for Me, this is My covenant with you: You shall be the father of a multitude of nations. And you shall no longer be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham, for I make you the father of a multitude of nations. I will make you exceedingly fertile, and make nations of you; and kings shall come forth from you. I will maintain My covenant between Me and you, and your offspring to come, as an everlasting covenant throughout the ages, to be God to you and to your offspring to come. I assign the land you sojourn in to you and your offspring to come, all the land of Canaan, as an everlasting holding. I will be their God."

God said further to Abraham, "As for you, you and your offspring to come throughout the ages shall keep My covenant. Such shall be the covenant between Me and you and your offspring to follow which you shall keep: every male among you shall be circumcised. You shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin, and that shall be the sign of the covenant between Me and you. Thus shall My covenant be marked in your flesh as an everlasting pact. "

    —Genesis 17: 1-16

A Reading by the Mother: Bring Me Good Guarantors

When Israel stood to receive the Torah, the Holy One said to them: "I am prepared to give you My Torah. Present to Me good guarantors that you will observe and study the Torah and I shall give it to you."

They said: "Our ancestors are our guarantors."

The Holy One said: "Your ancestors are not sufficient guarantors. Bring Me good guarantors, and I shall give you the Torah." They said: "Our prophets are our guarantors."

The Holy One said: "The prophets are not sufficient guarantors. Bring Me good guarantors and I shall give you the Torah." They said: "Indeed, our children will be our guarantors."

The Holy One said: "Your children are good guarantors. For their sake I give the Torah to you."

    —A midrash from Shir HaShirim Rabba 1:24

The mohel took our son to his bedroom for the hatafat dam brit (We had applied EMLA cream, a topical anesthetic, 45 minutes in advance so it would not be painful.) By our son's request, I accompanied him to hold his hand.

After the procedure:

Parents read the following alternately. Or address the blessings directly to your son.

Our prayer for (name) is that his formal choice of Judaism, one step of which he takes today with hatafat dam brit, will strengthen his covenant with God.

We pray that (name) will remain open to the divine presence in his life.

We pray that (name) will continue to develop his unique gifts as a person and to share them with others.

We pray that (name) will continue to develop a sense of community with other Jews as he continues to respect people of all faiths.

We pray that (name) will continue to care for others and for the earth -- all of God's creation -- throughout all his days.

We give thanks for and celebrate (name)'s choice of Judaism as a religious and spiritual path to guide him in life.

Conclusion

We said the Shehechiyanu together.

The mohel led us in singing "Mazel Tov!" and we shared rugulach and grape juice.

It was peaceful and lovely.

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1. (From the TANAKH: The New JPS Translation According to the Hebrew Text. The words mentioning the 8th day were omitted here given that this was hatafat dam brit for conversion and the 8 days were not pertinent.)