Monday, June 11, 2012

The Altar at the Bris

The Toras Chaim, zt”l, provides a beautiful explanation of milah and the wine that is drunk immediately after the bris is preformed. “Our sages teach that circumcising a child is likened to bringing a korban olah on the altar. This explains the custom to circumcise a baby on the northern side of the synagogue, since the olah was slaughtered in the north. It follows that the knees of the sandak are likened to the altar. For this reason, the sandak should be the one to drink the wine since this is likened to pouring wine down the two holes in the southwest corner of the altar’s base. “Although the prevalent custom today is that the one making the blessings drinks the wine, this is an error. Instead, the sandak should hold the baby on his lap during the recital of the blessings and drink the wine himself.” It is important to consider carefully before choosing the sandak for one’s child. A baby’s sandak has an effect on the boy for the rest of his life. Once, the Chazon Ish, zt”l, was asked to be sandak at a bris. When the grandfather—who had traveled from outside of Eretz Yisrael and was himself a prominent person—heard about this he was none too pleased. The newborn’s father was himself unsure what to do, and so he went to the Chazon Ish and asked if he was willing to forgo the honor. The Chazon Ish gave a startling reply. He said simply, “For myself, of course I am willing to forgo the honor. But for the baby’s good, it would be better if I was the sandak. I am mevater, but the baby is not mevater!”

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