On the Eighth Day

On the Eighth Day

Life is incredibly exciting.

I have just heard the Great News, the arrival of a new grandson.

I rush to the hospital to see both mother and newborn baby. To be perfectly honest, I focus much attention on The Baby once I have checked that the new mother is doing well – feeling the way a brand new mother usually feels.

I carefully unwrap the blanket and, in wordless awe, count fingers and toes. It is incredibly amazing that this tiny bundle of joy has everything that a grown-up possesses, in miniature. Tiny little fingernails, wispy tufts of fluffy, soft hair, and beautiful eyes that shine and sparkle.

Over and over again I whisper to Hashem - Thank you. Thank you. For the greatest blessing of all - to be part of the circle of creation.

Thank you, Hashem, for blessing me with womanhood, and fulfilling that blessing with the privelege of being a mother, grandmother and great-grandmother.

Plans are discussed for the bris (circumcision).  A dear niece kindly offers the use of her large home. We will prepare a large bris to accommodate the many friends my children have in the community. Offers come from friends and neighbors, welcome offers of help. Without hesitation I say yes to everyone.

 A small committee is formed and we make menu plans and shopping plans, eagerly delegating assignments. We need paper goods, tablecloths, and all sorts of drinks. The morning bris menu is divided up among shoppers and preparers. We form a small pre-morning group - to gather at the crack of dawn to prepare fresh salads and decorate the platters.

I love our planning and preparation- it will be a bris just like in the olden days, a real home bris. No halls, no caterers, just a welcoming home and the giving hearts and hands of friends and family. 

The night before the bris, neighborhood children gather to say the Shema Yisrael around the baby’s crib. What a beautiful sight, their serious little faces, their chubby hands covering their eyes, as their shy, soft voices recite the holy prayer.

That night I can hardly sleep. I have to be ready for pick-up at 5:30 am -- and at five o’clock, in the dark, I am ready and waiting.

We are all excited as we come together in the large, comfortable kitchen. We divide the tasks and within a very short time the tables are set with platters of bagels, fresh salads, fish platters and assorted cakes. Pancakes and scrambled eggs are placed in large aluminum pans and placed in the oven to stay warm.

The atmosphere is splendid, the air filled with enthusiasm and good will. One feels the blessings in the air. We work quickly for there is no time to waste. We even manage to place some flowers on the tables and blow up balloons lending a truly festive atmosphere. As we finish the last touches, people begin to arrive.

The Guest Of Honor, the sweet baby boy, arrives all dressed in white, with a tiny white yarmulke to match the outfit. A magnificent pillow has been prepared for the occasion.

Gradually the rooms fill up with people, grown-ups, small children and even babies in infant seats. Everyone is thrilled to be part of this joyous and sacred event. Slowly my husband enters with his home attendant. The crowd clears a path for him to make his way with his walker to the front of the room, where the bris will be performed. The other grandfather is placed in the specially prepared armchair, the Seat of Eliyohu, where he will hold the baby.

I am filled with emotion. This is a momentous occasion, the performance of the ancient command, the covenant given to our ancestor, Abraham.  I stand near the mother of the baby, turning slightly so she will not see the tears of emotion welling up in my eyes.  I bite my lip to stop the trembling as the baby is slowly taken to the mohel.  

The baby’s first cry shatters the stillness, the tears trickle down my face. I should be a source of strength for the kimpotorin (new mother) however, it is she who hugs me and holds me firm.

My husband stands up front, trembling from both his medical condition and  his excitement. He is given the honor of announcing the name of the new baby. His voice is strong, filled with emotion, as he publicly proclaims the name. Menachem Mendel, a name we hope he will bear with great pride all the rest of his life.

Blessed are we to have a such a strong and beautiful heritage. To have customs and traditions that forever link us both vertically and horizontally - to the past and present. Mazel Tov, Mazel Tov, may we always have simchas to share, with family and friends, in happiness and unity until….Moshiach.


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