I have just completed a three year project, researching and writing a book that reveals ancient Jewish wisdom from the Kabbalah and other sources about the practical and mystical reasons for Brit Milah, the holy circumcision. The Kabbalah of Brit Milah (the bris) means removal of arrogance and being self-centered that obscure Godliness in a man’s life. This book seeks to provide a way of viewing Jewish circumcision (“the bris”) as an opening to the tent of meeting where masculine meets feminine and where man meets God.
Ancient Jewish tradition teaches that Brit Milah leads to a life of generosity, kindness and the experience of unity with God and with one’s wife. This can occur as a result of the Brit Milah together with traditional Jewish spiritual practice including prayer, meditation, mitzvot, acts of kindness, self-reflection, teshuvah (repentance and returning to God) and refinement of one’s own behavior.
In the words of the Zohar, the Brit Milah is a “reshima kadisha,” a sacred insignia”, symbolizing that the boy and the man belong to God, not to themselves. Thus, Brit Milah is a symbol and an embodiment of a life-long commitment to a life of holiness with women and always in the presence of God. Within the Kabbalah, our tradition teaches that a man’s life of holiness includes honoring and pleasing his wife. This book describes what Brit Milah represents and how Jewish men can embody a consciousness of spirituality in their relationships with their wives or partners and as they bring children into the world. This book also summarizes the medical science of circumcision and scientific studies of its effects on hundreds of thousands of boys and men.
The book is important because so many people don’t know why we perform a bris on our baby boys, many people question it, and some people choose not to give their sons a Brit Milah. The book is needed for survival of the Jewish people because it explains why we do this in a way that is accessible, understandable, compassionate and meaningful. It draws on hundreds of traditional sources in accessible language that every reader can understand. Furthermore, it is extremely important because it teaches a way of being with women and of opening up to the feminine that is honoring of the feminine body and soul. It is important because it teaches that there are multiple ways for a man to have a vibrant relationship with God.
Style and Content
The book is written in English with quotes from Tanach in Hebrew with English translation. It is the product of a lot of study but it is written in a style that is accessible to everyone, even those who are not familiar with Kabbalah. It draws on sources from Torah, the prophets, sacred literature, Midrash, Mishnah, Talmud, and Kabbalah texts including Sefer Yetzirah, Sefer Bahir, the Zohar and others. The book, in its present form, is 164 pages, has 37 chapters and 490 end notes (containing citations, definitions, explanations, and brief biographical notes).
Status of the Book
The book is complete and ready for publication. The money raised in this campaign will be used to subsidize its publication and distribution in the U.S., Israel, U.K, South Africa and Australia. The budget of $10,00 includes: publication, marketing, submittals for literary awards, and distribution. Production will start as soon as all of the money is raised. It is expected to be published about 6 months later.
Endorsements by Rabbis
“The Spiritual Significance of Brit Milah by Rabbi Elihu Gevirtz is a most remarkable and comprehensive exploration of every conceivable aspect of the covenant of ritual circumcision in the Jewish tradition, and goes to the depth of questions and understanding about the meaning of this practice, from the most personal and intimate to the most spiritual and mystical. I highly recommend this book for all parents who are concerned about this practice and whether to perform it on their son(s) and why, and for all Jewish clergy to study and learn more about this.”
– Rabbi Stan Levy, Congregation B’nai Horin – Children of Freedom, Los Angeles, California, USA
“This courageous, forthright yet sensitive work refreshingly illumines the profound spiritual significance of the Jewish practice of circumcision and its practical influence on all aspects of our characters and behavior, and particularly upon the marital relationship and the building of our homes, our families and our people. Rabbi Gevirtz’s imaginative and insightful use of a wide array of teachings by the outstanding masters of Torah spirituality of all the ages will inspire Jewish couples facing the circumcision of a newborn baby and set to rest any anxieties they may experience. It will also provide a powerful and very timely antidote to the rampant moral confusion in the surrounding culture and the growing clamor of hostile voices raised in challenge against this fundamental pillar of Jewish purity and survival.”
– Rabbi Avraham Greenbaum, Azamra Institute, Jerusalem, Israel
“Rabbi Elihu Gevirtz has produced a new, learned, deeply searching and creative approach to the ancient rite of Brit Milah. In this time when new Jewish parents are questioning even this most fundamental Jewish precept, Rabbi Gevirtz offers an approach that is grounded in tradition and also attuned to modern concerns and sensibilities.”
– Rabbi Stephen E. Cohen, Congregation Bnai Brith, Santa Barbara, California, USA
“I have looked through Rabbi Gevirtz’s book, and seen that it is GOOD. It presents a difficult subject in a very open and helping way. May its message reach many people, especially young people, but all people struggling with sexuality and its place in the spiritual life. I bless the author that the message of this holy book be spread far and wide, and that people understand the great gift it presents.”
– Rabbi Avraham Sutton, Jerusalem, Israel
“Rabbi Elihu Gevirtz has done a terrific job with this inspiring compilation of wisdom on the topic of Brit Milah. This book illustrates the intersection of ethics and kabbalah, bringing us a new elucidated understanding of this mitzvah, and the deep meaning laden within this Divine command.”
– Rabbi Dr. Shmuly Yanklowitz, Uri L’Tzedek: Orthodox Social Justice, Phoenix, Arizona, USA