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Baptism in Judaism

Ciao little brother of JESUS! Buongiorno little sister of JESUS! May the grace of the LORD JESUS CHRIST, the love of GOD, and the communication of the HOLY SPIRIT be with you! (2 Corinthians 13:14).

  1. Baptism in Jewish culture

  2. Infant baptism does not exist in Judaism

Then the priest shall wash his clothes, he shall bathe in water, and afterward he shall come into the camp; the priest shall be unclean until evening.

(Numbers 19:7, NKJV)

1. Baptism in Jewish culture

The word baptism is the translation of the Greek word baptisma (strong n°908) meaning immersion or submersion. Baptisma (strong n°908) comes from the Greek verb baptizô (strong n°907), meaning: to plunge, to immerse, to submerge.

When a person converts to Judaism, immersion three times marks the end of the conversion process and symbolizes rebirth as a Jew, a full-fledged child of Israel, the child of Abraham and Sarah. On this occasion, new converts are asked to choose a Jewish first name, and to read and sign a pledge to follow the commandments of the Torah and pass them on to their children. They are also asked to recite the five fundamental commandments of Jewish life: study of the Torah, observance of Shabbat (day of rest), britmila (circumcision of boys), niddah, kashrut (dietary code).

Referring to GOD's recommendations to Moses (Numbers 19:1-22), Halakha (Jewish law enshrined in the Torah) and tvilah (Jewish traditions) prescribe purification baths called mikveh or mikvé. There are many reasons for a mikveh. For example, Jewish law requires immersion in a mikveh as part of the process of conversion to Judaism. It also requires women to immerse before marriage and when observing the laws of niddah (menstrual purity). Beyond the uses of the mikveh prescribed by Halakha (Jewish law), the symbolism of the waters of the mikveh has inspired various mikveh practices. For example, many Jewish men immerse themselves in the mikveh every Friday before Shabbat. In some Jewish communities, it's customary to immerse before Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement), and for newlyweds to immerse before their wedding day.

In recent years, some Jews are using the mikveh to mark important milestones, such as graduation, bar mitzvah (or bat mitzvah), an important anniversary, to signify a new beginning after pain or loss. For example, immersion can mark the completion of a year of mourning or recovery from divorce, rape, abuse or terminal illness.

I don't know what the mikveh was like in JESUS' time. Today, especially in France, modern mikvehs consist of two basins. In one, rainwater is collected by pipes. This basin is connected to the other by holes. The second basin is filled with filtered tap water, which is recycled and changed frequently. It is compulsory to wash before entering a mikveh basin. That's why there are always shower cubicles or bathrooms around the mikveh.

2. Infant baptism does not exist in Judaism

Jews do not baptize children. They present children to mark their entry into the covenant of Israel. There is no text in the Bible or Torah that mentions the baptism (water immersion) of one or more children.

For boys, this is done at the time of circumcision: the total or partial removal of the foreskin on the eighth day after the birth of the child (unless the child's state of health does not allow it). It's called "Brith Milah", in memory of the covenant between GOD and Abraham (Genesis 17: 1-22). Circumcision is performed at home, in synagogue or in hospital. Note that circumcision is performed while praying for the child. During the ceremony, the baby is also given a Hebrew name, chosen by the parents. The parents solemnly pledge to raise their child with respect for the Torah. Afterwards, family and friends may share a festive meal. But this is not obligatory. In some communities, "Brith Milah" is possible even when one of the parents is not Jewish. Provided they are committed to raising the child in the Jewish tradition.

For girls, the name of the ceremony is "The Nomination" or "Brith leda", or "Zeved Habat". The girl is given a Hebrew name, chosen by her parents. The ceremony takes place one month after the girl's birth, and can be performed at home or in synagogue. As with boys, the parents solemnly undertake to bring up their child in accordance with the Torah. In some communities, the child's feet are bathed in water, in memory of the LORD's appearance to Abraham near the oaks of Mamre (Genesis 18:1-8). As with the boys, perhaps a big meal is organized for family and friends. But again, it's not mandatory. Some families don't organize any meals at all.

🙂 An aside that involves only me. Personally, I don't think it makes sense for Christian parents to share photos of their newborn baby on social networks (not to mention the whole world) before presenting it to the LORD. If the aim is to give thanks and bear witness, we should start by addressing GOD.

** Ciao = Hello in Italian

** Buongiorno = Good morning in Italian


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