Apr 17, 2006
The Bris ceremony went great! I had my cousins Shmuel and Chava who were recently married leading off at "Kvatter". Next up was me with my introductory passages that the father says before the bris. Then my friend who gives the daf yomi shiur placed the baby on the Chair of Eliyahu Hanavi and my brother in law removed the baby and gave him back to me.
Rav Gamliel Rabinovitz was then called to be the sandek. I had called him and asked if he would be the sandek and he said that while normally it would be very difficult for him to come during Chol Hamoed, but to be sandek of course he would. So we were zoche to have him come and honor us and bless the baby and the crowd. His picture is posted above.
I gave the baby to the Sandek and Rav Kornfeld, the Mohel, did what he does. Rav Pogrow then did the brachos and the baby naming with my father in law holding the baby.
It was a very special ceremony and I truly felt Eliyahu Hanavi's presence. The medrash relates that Hashem wanted to give Eliyahu Hanavi the job to be present at all bris milah ceremonies. Eliyahu refused. he was concerned that the father of the child might be a rasha or unworthy and he did not want to participate in an event with an unworthy person. So Hashem said, Ok. i will forgive the father of his sins and he will be righteous and you can participate. Eliyahu said what about the Mohel, What about the sandek, etc.. It continued with Eliyahu cajoling forgiveness otu of Hashem for various people until Eliyahu said that maybe somebody in the crowd will not be righteous. Hashem said, fine I will forgive everybody present at a bris, so you can participate. At that point Eliyahu Hanavi agreed to the task, after having secured God's forgiveness for eveyone present at every bris.
In this case, I had looked into various minhagim regarding the Chair of Eliyahu and found that it ranges from some who use one chair for both the sandek and Eliyahu to those who use separate chairs. Some place a chumash on the Chair of Eliyahu with it open to the Parsha of Pinchas to symbolize Eliyahu's presence. At the ceremony, as the sandek was settling into the large chair, we found it necessary to find something for him to put his feet on, as they were high up and the mohel needed to stabilize his knees. While someone was calling for a chair, a person nearby took the Chair of Eliyahu (a much lower chair) and was going to place it under the sandek's feet. The mohel stopped him and said he cannot do that as Eliyahu is using that chair. It is not just symbolic, but he is actually present.
I related the above midrash to Rav Gamliel at the conclusion of the bris and he said of course Eliyahu is here. he proceeded to give me and the baby brachos and added a bracha for everyone present.