Why the Minyan? Community and Brit Milah

The customary quorum of ten represents the community and its obligations to the child, and the covenanted people of which the child is a new member.

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The birth of a child summons the family together. The parents assign the child a name, which includes the name of the father and mother. The severed umbilical cord does not detach the child from the family, and at the brit the family acknowledges its mutual attachment to the child and to the community. The boundary of the self does not end at the periphery of the body. The members of the family who surround the infant recall their dependence, their need for the mutual comfort, protection, and wisdom of mishpacha [family]. Through the ritual covenant of the child, the members of the family are re-covenanted.

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Rabbi Harold Schulweis

Harold Schulweis is the senior rabbi of Valley Beth Shalom in Encino, California. He is the founder of Jewish Foundation for Rescuers and the author of For Those Who Can't Believe.