Honors Extended at Bris Milah

Wow, I am reeling. My wife just gave birth to a baby boy. Bris next week! We want to invite all our family and friends, and distribute honors so they can participate. Do you have a list?

The Aish Rabbi Replies:

Mazel tov! May you bring him to the covenant of Abraham at the right time!

It is deemed a great honor to take part in the Bris. Here are the various "tasks" given out as honors to some of the guests:

1) "Kvatter" – usually a married couple who has not yet had children of their own, as the honor is considered a good omen to have children. The baby's mother hands the child to the female kvatter, who passes the baby to her husband. He then brings the baby into the room where the Bris is to take place.

2) "To Elijah's Chair:" The honoree's task is to place the newborn on the elevated, ornate "Throne of Elijah," for tradition says that Elijah attends every Bris.

3) "From Elijah's Chair:" the honor of taking the baby from the "throne."

4) "Sandak:" This is the highest honor, usually given to the grandfather or a rabbi. The honoree holds the newborn across his knees while the Bris is performed, an honor considered equal to offering incense in the Holy Temple.

5) Mohel: The one who performs the removal of the foreskin should be God-fearing and professionally competent. It is important to note that a Jewish Bris differs from a "secular circumcision" in that it involves special added steps called Priyah and Metzitzah. (A child who is circumcised by a doctor in the hospital often does not receive a proper Bris.)

6) Blessings: The honoree recites the blessings and announces the baby's name.

7) "Beside the Blessings:" The honoree holds the baby while the blessings are recited and the baby is named.

Mazel tov! May you merit to raise him to follow the Torah, to come to the wedding canopy, and to always do good deeds.

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