On September 5, my grandnephew Ari unwittingly followed Abraham’s footsteps and entered into a covenant with God by sacrificing his foreskin to join the Tribe. He was only eight-days-old at the time, but had he been asked and able to answer, I’m certain he would have opted out.
Leah and I travelled to a Scarsdale, NY temple for the event, where we were greeted by Bubbe Debbie, Tante Ava, and most importantly, Ari, dicked out in Bubbe’s crocheted yarmulke creation. Presently locked in a blissful sleep, Ari had little clue of his near-future fate.
All guests were expected at 11:00 am sharp, but slow arrivals dictated a slower start, which was a good thing for Tante Marilyn–who like cock-work–arrived during the overture, and ran to the restroom with a change of clothes over her arm.
“There’s no time for that,” I called out as she sprinted by.
“Nevermind,” she answered, and she was gone.
Inside the sanctuary, Ava stood steadfast as Ari’s chaperone, cradling him on a pillow that would hopefully cushion the inevitable blow.
Despite outsiders’ cries of trauma and mutilation, the notion of circumcision has stood the test of time for four thousand years, and the ceremony of brit milah, or bris marks the ritual of welcoming the newborn male into a society that connects all Jews through thousands of generations–from Abraham to the great-grandfather…
to the grandfather…
to the father…
to the son.
Ari’s mohel (rhymes with recoil), who was hired for his steady hand (and because he only works for tips), stood resolute and cocksure before the congregation,
as if to reassure Ari’s anxious Mommie,
that he was more than a cut above the rest.
However, after the recitation of several requisite readings,
Blessed art Thou, O Lord our God, King of the universe, who hast sanctified us with Thy commandments, and hast given us the command concerning circumcision.
Blessed art Thou, O Lord our God, King of the universe, who hast sanctified us with Thy commandments, and hast commanded us to make our sons enter the covenant of Abraham our father.
I concluded the mohel was a touch long-winded, although I never considered asking him to cut it short.
Finally, it was showtime. The sandek–in this case, Zayde Craig,
the maternal grandfather–was called upon to hold Ari’s legs, while the mohel got a grip of Ari’s equipment.
Once the clamp was affixed and the ceremonial anesthetic (Manischewitz wine) was orally introduced,
a flick of the wrist…
left little doubt…
that Ari was in good hands. The mohel was a consummate professional who handled himself in the long run without getting the sack.
Afterwards, the parents exhaled, although mouth-to-mouth was necessary.
In fact, grandparents, and especially Ari felt the whole affair was sensational–even though he was all petered out and it was clear that he wasn’t all there.