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The proper and authentic day for the bris ceremony is the 8th Judaic day after the birth. The day the baby is born is counted as day 1. Therefore the Bris is actually conducted seven (7) calendar days after the birth. So, if a baby is born on a Monday, the Bris would be conducted the following Monday. If a baby is born on Tuesday, the Bris would be conducted the following Tuesday, etc.

There are no days during the Jewish calendar in which a Bris is postponed. A Bris is conducted on Shabbat, Rosh Hashanah or even Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the year.

Contrary to popular speculation, there is no absolute reason why this day was chosen except for biblical law found in Genesis 17. No medical, health related or other objective justification truly explains the emphasis on the eighth day other than the statement found in the book Genesis. What about postponing the bris for convenience or other reasons?

According to Jewish Law, or Halacha, the Bris may be canceled or postponed for only one reason, the health of the baby. Within traditional Judaism, there is no place for postponing a Bris for any other reason. Non-Orthodox Judaism tends to be a bit more flexible, yet still emphasizes the need to perform the Bris on the appropriate day, if at all possible.

Daily, I receive inquiries from families concerned that they may need a few extra days to transport loved ones from various distances to the ceremony. Some request a few more days to make this happen, so if they are going to postpone the Bris, they might as well postpone it until Sunday.

I ask the hypothetical questions. What if Yom Kippur fell on an inconvenient day? Are flights from the coast to coast that difficult or infrequent to arrange? What if a court of law insisted you appear on a specific day, would you postpone the appearance if it were inconvenient?

Please understand that I love to have all the family present at the Bris, especially the grandparents and the great grandparents. I understand that many travel from as far as Israel, South America or Europe, but the need to maintain the authenticity and sanctity of the ceremony necessitates a sense of urgency... that timing is indeed an issue. The guests should be asked to make every effort to be there on the appropriate day, or at the very least as soon as possible, not just postpone until Sunday for convenience only.

What about a Bris before the 8th Day?

A newborn circumcision can be accomplished safely anytime during the first four t six weeks of the baby's life, but preferably within two weeks of a full-term birth. A Bris however is another issue entirely.

Under ABSOLUTELY NO CIRCUMSTANCES can a Bris be performed prior to the eighth (8th) day of a baby's birth.

I repeat, NO CIRCUMSTANCES. There is no Judaic Halacha or legal reason to allow this change in timing. The concerns of the mother, family convenience or personal scheduling conflicts have no bearing on this rule. It is not flexible to any degree. It is simply and clearly Jewish law and not Jewish tradition that dictates the 8th Day. Also, doing the circumcision in the hospital on the 2nd or 3rd day after birth with someone who will recite a few blessings in Hebrew does not constitute a Bris.

 

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