The child was in his mother’s arms. He wasn’t crying, he was serene, curled up in his linen, she had just breastfed him and he had fallen asleep peacefully, the sleep of the just, his eyes closed, his little chest heaving with each heartbeat.

His mother looked at him with anguish, this long-awaited moment, she dreaded it; she was nervous that she wouldn’t hold him in her arms, she was afraid that the child would cry, that he would suffer, that he would be hurt. She also feared the sight of blood. And he was so small. Thin and delicate, fine features. The still blind eyes were looking for shapes, the hands were folded, the little fists clenched like infants, this archaic defensive instinct that they no doubt have to protect themselves and be ready to fight, a reflex of fear in the face of the threat: when we is so small, everything seems threatening, we jump at every cry, we shiver at every draft, we cry every time. It was so thin and slender that she wondered how she was going to be able to bear having this ritual, ancestral, spiritual gesture performed, and yet it had to be.

The moment had arrived. She too, in the little white synagogue. She didn’t want to let him go. She was proud because on this day, this eighth day, it became Jewish, while the ancestral covenant was fulfilled in his flesh. She was so happy to have given birth to him. But also so distressed at the idea of ​​someone touching her baby, the one she had preciously carried in her womb, who was born a little prematurely, when she was not expecting it, being in trip away from home, caught off guard and had to improvise a bed, a bed, a place to give birth. Her husband had helped her, she had pushed and it was he who had taken her out of her womb.

Then after the birth, they quickly returned home. The child was just 8 days old. And the day of circumcision had arrived. The ceremony took place at her home, in the modest little room where she and her husband lived. They were poor, and they had done what they could to best accommodate the rabbi, the mohel, the circumciser, the family and a few friends.

She handed the child to the mohel, while everyone sang the ritual prayers for the milah, which means both circumcision and the word. A way of writing in the flesh the lack and the fact of opening up to the other, this is what this ritual that was to mark his life means. In the Torah it was written that when the Messiah came, men would be naturally or symbolically circumcised. Then they would all be born ready to love each other and circumcision will not be necessary to establish the Covenant.

So the mohel did, he took the knife, and he lifted the linen. He gave the little one a sweet diaper to suck on, then he took the tiny piece of flesh, and he cut with a quick precise gesture. We heard a small cry of surprise, then some tears. The baby began to suckle the diaper. The Jewish sign was now written in his body, as it had been from generation to generation since Abraham, the beloved patriarch, the first to enter into the Covenant, at the age of 99. On this occasion, he had changed his name: Abram had become Abraham, ancestor of a “multitude of nations”as the text says : “You will observe my Covenant, you and your descendants after you, from generation to generation. »

Now it was his son’s time. The rabbi handed him the child, who opened his eyes, very wide, wide-eyed, relieved to find his mother’s warmth and smell, his arms, and the look a little scandalized by what had just been done to him. To do. She smiled at him, relieved. This ordeal, this burden and this pride of being a Jew, was now his destiny. The baby was looking at her, she was sure he saw her, now he was looking at her, looking pensive, brilliant as a little sage, a supernatural being of beauty and intelligence. She smiled dazedly and proudly like a Jewish mother, he really was the most beautiful in the world, he looked so strong, intelligent, determined and intense. She gave him a kiss on the forehead, he closed his eyes and smiled happily.

The rabbi approached, it was time to give him his name.

Yehoshua, she whispered.