The night before the circumcision is a night filled with tension for the newborn baby boy’s parents. On that night, many practice a custom to sit near the baby’s bed and learn Torah all night. This custom is called “Tikun Elijah” or “Leil Shimurim.”
The other children present at that time are instructed to say the “Shema” prayer in order to protect the child from harm before the procedure. This comes from the belief that the child still needs extra protection; once he is circumcised he will be protected from death.
Another verse that is recited during this night comes from Genesis 48:16-
הַמַּלְאָךְ הַגֹּאֵל אֹתִי מִכָּל-רָע, יְבָרֵךְ אֶת-הַנְּעָרִים, וְיִקָּרֵא בָהֶם שְׁמִי, וְשֵׁם אֲבֹתַי אַבְרָהָם וְיִצְחָק; וְיִדְגּוּ לָרֹב, בְּקֶרֶב הָאָרֶץ
“The angel who has redeemed me from all evil, bless the lads; and may my name live on in them and the names of my father’s Abraham and Isaac; and may they grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth.”
Another custom practiced more often by Sephardic Jews from Middle Eastern countries is called “Brit Yitschak”- the covenant of Isaac. On that night, also the night before the circumcision, the entire family comes to the house of the child and reads passages from the Zohar, legends and other stories, also in order to protect the child from death.
We hope that you enjoyed learning about these customs.