Monday, May 30, 2011

BERIT MILA: Sephardic Ceremony

Today is the 26 of Iyar, 5771/ 41 days of Omer (5 weeks, 6 days)

The ceremony begins when the child is brought into the room where the circumcision will take place and is handed to the father. As the baby is brought into the room, it is customary for guests to greet him singing different songs in Hebrew. The most popular song in Sephardic communities is perhaps: berukhim atem kehal emunai....

The father holds the baby and pronounces a few prayers (see link). Then the baby is handed to an honoree (usually the grandfather who is not acting as the Sandak!) who places the baby in the special chair of Eliyahu haNabih.

Then the father holds again the baby and formally appoints the Mohel as his "agent" to perform the Berit Milah. "You be my agent to circumcise my son". This is done because, technically the father is directly commanded to perform the circumcision, so, in case he does not perform the circumcision himself, he must appoint the Mohel as his agent (shaliach).

There are three blessings that have to be pronounced at the ceremony of the Berit Milah, two by the father and one by the Mohel. In our community we have the custom that the father recites the first blessing (lehakhniso )before the circumcision takes place.

After the father pronounces the third blessing (shehecheyanu) one of the honorees, usually the Mohel or one of the rabbis present at the Berit, says the Kiddush (bore peri hagefen) and the berakha asher kiddesh yedid mibeten....

Then, a special prayer (misheberakh) for the baby is recited, where his Hebrew name is loudly announced for the first time.

Click HERE to see the ceremony, step by step, as it is done in the Mashadi community.