Seder Milah: Ritual Circumcision

Circumcision Ritual: סדר מילה

To be performed on the 8th day or another day.
Can be adapted for a hospital circumcision.

Leader: 

Welcome! We learn from our sages,  

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you,

Yet they belong not to you.

—Khalil Gibran

With hearts full of emotion and anticipation, we have gathered to participate in an ancient ritual. We look to the rituals of our ancestors for a connection to something much greater, much older than ourselves. We look to these rituals for continuity, for the transmission of identity, for courage to make meaning in an imperfect world.

Our tradition teaches that for seven days we receive the world as it is and on the 8th day we enter into partnership with the Holy Blessed One. We are called to participate in the act of creation through ritual circumcision. We pray that this little one be a source of much healing and wholeness in the world.

Parent(s) can choose to recite if this is the 8th day of the child’s life:

הנני מוכן/ה ומזמן/ת לקים מצות עשה שצונו הבורא יתברך למול שנאמר וביום השמיני ימול בשר ערלתו

Here I am, ready to fulfill the mitzvah of circumcision that the Creator has instructed us in the Torah. (Leviticus 12:3)

Baby is carried in on a pillow by designated persons and handed to appointed person to serve as sandek.
 

Everyone present says:

(repeat after me)

ברוך הבא

Barukh Habah, Welcome Little One!

Baby is placed on table or remains on a pillow with sandek present and helping to hold the baby still.
 

The mohel/et asks the parents for permission to act on their behalf. The mohel/et prepares the baby for circumcision.

Before removing the foreskin, the mohel/et recites:

If appropriate mohel/et begins with:

לשם מילה ולשם ערות

ברוך אתה ה’ אלהינו מלך העולם אשר קדשנו במצותיו וצונו על המילה

Blessed are you, Source of Life, who has instructed us regarding circumcision.

Child is held by significant person. Additional people can be invited to participate in each aspect of this moment.
 

Leader:

Our sacred texts refer to various parts of the body  as “uncircumcised” and the prophets call on the people to “circumcise” or open their hearts, ears and mouth.

ומל יהוה אלהיך את לבבך ואת לבב זרעך לאהבה את יהוה אלהיך בכל לבבך ובכל נפשך למען חייך

“The Holy One will circumcise your hearts and the hearts of your descendants, so that you may love God with all your heart and with all your soul as a way of life.” (Deuteronomy 30:6)

 

In just a few moments, _____________ will bless the wine and then touch wine to the baby’s heart, ears and mouth, sweetening their way in the world.

ברוך אתה ה’ אלהינו מלך העולם בורא פרי הגפן

Barukh atah adonai eloheinu melekh ha’olam, borei pri hagafen

Blessed are you Source of all Life, who created the fruit of the vine

 

ברוך אתה ה’ אלהינו מלך העולם אשר קדשנו במצותיו וצונו למול את לבבך ובכל נפשך למען חייך

Barukh atah adonai eloheinu melekh ha’olam, asher kidshanu b’mitzvotav v’tzivanu lamool et levavkha u’v’kol nafshekha le’ma’an hayekha

Blessed are you, Source of Life, who has instructed us to circumcise our hearts and our souls as a way of life

 

Parent(s) drink from cup and then dip finger in wine and touch wine to baby’s lips, heart and ears as they recite the words below:
 

Parent(s):

Just as you have been circumcised today, so too may you cultivate a curious mind, a tender heart, and a listening presence.

 

Healing Blessing for the child:

מי שברכה אבותינו אברהם יצחק ויעקב ואמותינו שרה ריבקה רחל לאה בילהה וזילפה

היא תברך את הילד רך נימול
הקדוש ברוך הוא ישלח לו מהרה רפואה שלמה בכל רמ”ח אבריו ושס”ה גידיו

וגדלוהו לעשות משפט ולאהוב חסד והצנע לכת עם אלהים

ונאמר אמן

 

May the One who blessed our ancestors,
bless this tender child on this day of his circumcision.
May God send him a full and speedy recovery.
And may he grow to pursue justice, to act with compassion, and to walk humbly in the presence of the Divine.

and let us say, amen.

 

Leader:

It is traditional for a birth parent to recite Birkat HaGomel following the birth of a child. This is a blessing of gratitude, specifically following a life-threatening situation. For some, childbirth is just that. But for others of us, the gratitude stems from a place of overwhelming joy and connection. Rebbe Nahman teaches that the whole entire world is a very narrow bridge, and the important thing is not to make ourselves afraid. With this blessing, the birth parent expresses gratitude both for having survived childbirth and even more so, for the the ongoing journey of freeing ourselves from the fear and shame of our own bodies.
 

The birth parent can choose to recite a Birkat HaGomel:

ברוך אתה ה’ אלהינו מלך העולם

הגומל לחיבים טובות שגמלני כל טוב  

Barukh atah adonai, eloheinu melekh haolam, hagomel l’hayyavim tovot sh’gemalani kol tuv

Blessed are you, Source of Life, who bestows kindness in spite of our failings,

for bestowing every kindness upon me.

All respond:

מי שגמלך כל טוב הוא יגמלך כל טוב סלה

Mi she’gmalekh kol tov, hu yig’malekh kol tov selah.

May the one who has bestowed upon you every kindness bestow upon you every kindness forever.

Note: the Hebrew here reflects female pronouns for the birth parent

 

Leader blesses parents:  

May God who blessed all of our ancestors, bless you [insert names] as you accept the sacred responsibility of parenthood.

May you give your child the love and support to be who s/he will be.

May your love be strengthened as you help each other to grow into this role of parent to this child.
 

May you allow yourselves to be surprised to who this child will be.

May you remain open to who each of you will become as you grow and change knowing that this new life has much to teach you.

May you feel seen and supported by your families and communities.

May you be blessed with creativity, flexibility, and patience.

May the Source of Blessing bless you in this awesome journey.
 

—English adapted from Rabbi Alissa Wise

 

יברכך ה’ וישמרך

יאר ה’ פניו אליך ויחנך

ישה ה’ פניו אליך וישם לך שלום

May the Holy One bless you and keep you.
May the Holy One shine light upon you and be gracious to you.
May the Holy One turn towards you and give you peace.
 

Ritual can conclude with the singing of Siman Tov, U’Mazal Tov!

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