BRIT BAT – Welcoming girl-child into the Covenant

Weaving Together:

Brit Rechitza

With Metaphorical Circumcision

Of Lips, Ears, Heart, Head

Woven by Rabbis Phyllis Berman & Arthur Waskow

Introduction:  Sheh-hekhianu,  Rabbi Shefa Gold's chant:

Sheh-hekhianu, V'kimanu, v'higianu lazman hazeh (x2):

O Mystery, Grace Unfolding --O Miracle, It's You Alone!

O Mystery, Grace Unfolding --O Miracle, Who brings us Home!

Rabbis explain why we want Elijah & Miriam to be present. Elijah: As in the end of Malachi, Elijah comes to turn the hearts of parents & children to each other (so as to avert destruction of the world); Miriam: She freely sings and dances the community's sacred path into freedom.

Rabbis say: “Zeh hakisei Eliyahu HaNavi v’ hakisei Miiriam hanevia, zakhor latov. These are the Seats of Elijah the Prophet and Miriam the Prophet, may they be remembered for good.”

Two people chosen by the parents each take one of these seats.

Parents say in unison:

Blessed are You, our God, Breathing Spirit of the world, Who has made us holy through your mitzvot, and directed us to bring our daughter into the covenant of Israel.Barukh atah Yahhh Elohenu ruakh ha-olam asher kidshanu bemitzvot, vetzivanu l’hakh-nisah b’vreet shel am Yisrael.  (Those present  say --  Ameyn!}

Rabbis explain “Brit Rechitza, the Covenant of Washing.” Its central metaphor comes from Abraham’s washing of the feet of the travelers who came to his and Sarah’s tent to announce the impending birth of Isaac.

The Talmud tells us that as Abraham entered the covenant through circumcision, Sarah entered the covenant through a brit rechitza [“covenant of washing”], a ritual immersion in water.  So, today the covenantal ritual act of Brit Rechitza involves the parents’ washing of their daughter's feet. 

And in the nomadic culture of our ancient forebears, the washing of feet  was a sign of ultimate hachnasat orchim – the welcoming of guests who had been walking on long and dusty journeys. So what we do today  is a way of honoring and welcoming this new family member as a saced guest coming into into the world and into the covenant.

Rabbis say:

Blessed are You, Yahh our God, Breathing-spirit of the World, Who is mindful of the covenant through the washing of feet. Baruch Ata Yahhh Eloheinu Ruach Haolam, Zocher HaBrit BeRichitzat Raglayim

[Parents (or mother) dip the baby's feet in a bowl of water.]

Rabbis say:

. Our God and God of our fathers and our mothers, lift up this child for her father and her mother, and may her name be called among Israel Dahlia bat Ariella Shoshana  v’Elon and among the community at large as Marian Portia . May Dahlia bat Ariella Shoshana  v’Elon ,  this one who is small, grow to be great; just as she entered this covenant may she enter Torah, the covenant of loving partnership, and the doing of deeds of loving-kindness.” Elohenu v’elohei avoteinu v’imoteinu, kayem et ha’yaldah hazot l’abbatah u’l’imatah, vikara shmah b’yisrael Dahlia bat Ariella Shoshana  v’Elon zot ha’katanah, g’dolah tihyeh

Parents explain the origins of the baby’s names (Hebrew & English)..

Rabbis say: Over and over, our sacred scriptures teach that our mouths, our ears, our hearts may be covered with a thick spiritual “foreskin” that blocks us from opening our selves to the world.  We must gently remove this blockage:

Rabbis say:

Harahaman, Compassionate One, may You open this child’s lips to speak truth, justice,  and compassion. As it is written,  Moses says to  God “How then will  Pharaoh hearken to me, since I am of foreskinned lips?” (Exod. 6: 12, 30) [Touch olive oil to baby’s lips.]

Harahaman, Compassionate One, may You open this child’s ears to the voices of all creation.  As it is written: Behold, their ears are uncircumcised, and they cannot listen. (Jeremiah. 6:10) [Touch olive oil to baby’s ears.]

 Harahaman, Compassionate One, may You open this child’s heart.  As it is written: So circumcise the foreskin of your heart, and be not stiffnecked. (Deuteronomy. 10:16) [Touch olive oil to baby’s heart.]

 Harahaman, Compassionate One, may You open this child to loving with all her being.  As it is written: YHWH your God will  circumcise your heart and the heart of your seed, to love YHWH with all your heart ,with every breath, and with all your being, in order that you may live.  (Deuteronomy 30:6 ) [Touch olive oil to baby’s forehead.]


Those assembled offer their own brief blessings to the child.

Rabbis lead Sheh’hekhianu as above.




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