–The baby is brought into the room–
At the beginning of the ceremony, the mother hands the baby to the kvatterin. Everyone present stands and greets him with the words “Barukh haba” (“May he who comes here be blessed”). The kvatterin then hands the baby to the kvatter. Some people choose to give the honor of being kvatter and kvatterin to a couple who have not yet had a child.
–The sandak holds the baby–
Two chairs are prepared for the Brit. The first is for the Sandek, the individual who holds the baby on their knees during the actual circumcision. It is considered a great honor to be the Sandek because there is a Kabbalistic tradition that links the soul of the Sandek with the child. In this way, the Sandek is considered the spiritual mentor of the child. Often, one of the grandfathers is asked to serve as the Sandek.
–The chair of Eliyahu–
The second chair is set aside for the spirit of Elijah the Prophet. According to Jewish tradition, Elijah comes to every circumcision to testify before the God to the commitment of the Jewish people to this great mitzvah. During the ceremony, just prior to the Brit itself, the baby is placed on the chair of Elijah, and the Mohel recites a special prayer asking for the spirit of Elijah to stand over him as he performs the Brit.
The mohel recites: “This chair is devoted to Elijah the prophet, may his remembrance be for the good. For Your salvation I have waited, O Lord. I have hoped for Your salvation, O Lord, and Your commandments have I fulfilled. Elijah, the angel of the covenant, is before You. You stand at my right and sustain. I have hoped for Your salvation, O Lord. I rejoice at Your word, as one finds great truth in Your words. Great peace have they who love Your law; and there is no stumbling for them. Happy are they whom You choose and bring near that they may dwell in Your courts.”
The mohel recites: “The Holy One, praised be God, said to our father Abraham: ‘Walk before Me and be perfect.’ I am ready and willing to perform the precept which the Creator, source of all blessings, commanded us concerning circumcision.”
Those present respond: “May we be satisfied with the goodness of Your house, the holy place of Your temple.”
If a table is used, the mohel then places the child on the pillow, with the sandak assisting by holding the child’s firmly.
–The blessings of Brit Milah–
The mohel recites: “Praised be You, O Lord our God, Sovereign of the Universe, who has sanctified us by Your commandments, and commanded us concerning the rite of circumcision.”
The mohel determines the place where the cut should be made and puts a shield in place. A special knife called izmal or, more frequently now, a surgical scalpel is used. One or both parents may hand the knife to the mohel and stand beside the baby as he performs the circumcision. A sterile dressing is then applied.
The parents recite: “Praised be You, O Lord our God, Sovereign of the Universe, who has sanctified us by Your commandments and commanded us to enter our sons into the covenant of Abraham and Sarah, our ancestors.”
Those present respond: “As he has entered into the covenant, so may he enter into a life of Torah, to the nuptial canopy and to good deeds.”
–Wine and Hebrew name–
After the Mohel has performed the brit, a special blessing is recited upon a cup of wine, and the baby is given his Hebrew name.
The mohel holds up a kiddush cup and recites:
Praised are You, O Lord our God, Sovereign of the Universe, who has created the fruit of the vine.
Praised are You, O Lord our God, source of all blessings, who has sanctified the well-beloved (Isaac) from the womb and has set Your statute in his flesh and has sealed his offspring with the sign of the holy covenant. Therefore, because of this, O living God, our Portion and our Rock, deliver from destruction the dearly beloved of our flesh, for the sake of the covenant You have set in our bodies. Praised are You, O Lord our God, who has made the covenant.
Our God and God of our ancestors, preserve this child to his father and to his mother and let his name be called in Israel __________ son of ________. Let the parents rejoice in their offspring, and let them be glad with their children; as it is written: “Let the father and the mother rejoice, and let them that bore this infant be glad.” And it is said: “And I passed by you, and I saw you weltering in your blood, and I said unto you: ‘In your blood you shall live.’ Yea, I said: ‘In your blood you shall live.'” (A drop or two of wine is put in the mouth of the infant.) And it is said: “God has remembered the covenant forever, the word which God commanded to yours and all generations; (the covenant) which He made with Abraham, and His oath unto Isaac, and confirmed the same unto Jacob for a statute, to Israel for everlasting covenant.” And it is said: “And Abraham circumcised his son Isaac when he was eight days old, as God commanded him.” O give thanks unto the Lord; for God is good; for God’s loving-kindness endures forever. The little child, ____–____, may he become great. As he has been entered into the covenant, so may he be introduced to the study of Torah, to the nuptial canopy, and to good deeds.
The mohel then continues:
Creator of the universe. May it be Your gracious will to regard and accept this (performance of circumcision), as if I had brought this boy before Your glorious throne. And You, in Your abundant mercy, through Your holy angels, give a pure and holy heart to ___________, the son of ________, who was just now circumcised in honor of Your great Name. May his heart be wide open to comprehend Your holy Law, that he may learn and teach, keep and fulfill Your laws.
May He who blessed our fathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and our mothers Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, and Leah, bless this tender infant who was circumcised, and may He grant him a perfect cure. May his parents deserve to raise him up to the study of Torah, to the nuptial canopy, and good deeds. Let us say, Amen.”
–The baby is taken out the room and a festive meal is held–
The kvatter then takes the baby from the sandak and hands him to the kvatterin, who hands him back to the mother.
It is customary to serve refreshments or a meal after the brit, and this is considered a seudat mitzvah, part of the mitzvah.
At the meal, one of the parents may choose to give a speech or dvar torah in which s/he may chose to discuss a topic from the parashat hashavua that is relevant to the occasion. They may want to share with their guests the reason why they chose the specific name, as well as their hopes for the child’s future.