Did Your Berit Milah Fall in the Middle of a Paragraph? Originally Published September 20-21, 2019.

Our praying spaces were graced this past Monday by the berit milah ceremony of the son of Carolyn Slayton & Seth Glick, a wonderful, happy occasion. (Mazal tov to the family!)

The ceremony took place in the late afternoon, and it was beautiful.  Turns out that most ritual circumcisions are planned for the morning simply because it is a positive time-bound mitzvah to be performed on the eighth day:  if possible and practical (taking into account availability of the mohel) such joy should not be delayed.  And had the mohel arrived too late for the eighth day (due to traffic)?  Nothing bad would happen, but the boy would still need to be circumcised ASAP.

Discussion also arose whether the sandak (sometimes sandek), the person who holds the baby during the surgical transaction, is also considered to be the godparent of the baby.  Actually, not so much.  Serving as sandak is a high honor.  The Kabbalists even attributed atoning qualities to the service.  The word sandak (סַנְדָּק) likely derives from the Greek “syndikos,” “patron,” or “synteknos,” “companion of the father.”  Another term for the person so serving is ba’al berit milah.  The job, however, of godparent, of being there for the kiddo should anything untoward happen to the parents, is mostly considered a different transaction entirely.

Most notably and in addition, your correspondent learned from Rabbi Adelson that there is a tradition (I am looking for someone other than him who has witnessed this) of celebrating the berit milah at the point in the morning service at which we read that “You, God, chose Avram, took him out of Ur, changed his name to Abraham, and found him faithful” ….   BOOM, THE BRIS …. “and You made a covenant with him,” etc.  In our prayer books there is a slight separation as if there is a new paragraph, but the sentence is a continuation of the verse Nehemiah 9:8.  (See page 142 of Siddur Lev Shalem.)  The service would simply stop, and then continue on when the new covenant had been made.