What is a Brit Mila?
The reason for Brit Milah
The word Brit means “covenant” and the word Milah means “circumcision”. Circumcision is that which permanently establishes a covenant between G-d and the Jew. (A Jewish female is born already circumcised, so to speak, possessing this holy sign within her from the moment of birth.)
G-d wanted to permanently affix a symbol on the bodies of the people He chose to be called by His name. Circumcision was designated as the symbol of this covenant, being that this is the source from which the perpetuation of the species emanates. One might ask: If G-d desired that all males be circumcised, why then did He not simply create the human being already circumcised? The answer to that is as follows: The reason G-d does not create the human being complete already in the mother’s womb, is in order to indicate that just as the physical aspects of the body can be perfected by human deeds (such as circumcision), so too is it within the person’s ability to perfect the soul by correcting oneself spiritually through the covenant of circumcision.
Why specifically on the eighth day?
Kabbalah (Jewish mysticism), explains the importance of the brit being carried out specifically on the eighth day, as follows: The eight days between the birth of the child and the brit always include at least one Shabbat. Shabbat corresponds to the experience of perfect harmony with nature. The number 7, represents the natural order of the world, (i.e. there are seven days in a week; G-d created the world in six days and rested on the seventh day — the Shabbat — the holiest day of the week, the one which completes the order of the creation of the world.)
The brit takes place on the eighth day, indicating that the act of circumcision represents something that is higher than nature. After having attained perfection with nature during the first seven days, now, on the eighth day, the child reaches the level of the soul that is capable of connecting with the G-dly light that transcends nature.Thus, through the act of circumcision, the Jew is given the power and ability throughout life, to overcome all obstacles in his service of G-d; he is able to rise above his own natural limitations.
Added Benefits of Circumcision
It is of interest to note that penile cancer is almost unheard of by Jewish men. Based on these observations, circumcision throughout the world has now become a routine medical practice.Although circumcision by Jews is not performed because of health benefits, but rather solely because G-d commanded us to do so, we are nevertheless confident that whatever G-d commanded us to do, is ultimately for our benefit and will only contribute to the physical and spiritual well-being of the person. After all, G-d commands us in the Torah to maintain a healthy body and is called by the title, “Healer of all flesh.”