QUESTION: A family which has seen some berit milah plates in a museum would like to commission one for their grandson, soon to be born. Is there a specific design which tradition suggests? (Allen Levy, San Francisco CA)
ANSWER: There is nothing in the traditional halakhic literature which deals with this subject. It is interested in the problems of the berit itself and the various individuals involved.
As we turn to the literature on Jewish art objects, we will find a variety of silver plates designed for the berit (A. Kanof Jewish Ceremonial Art, Isaiah Shachar Jewish Tradition in Art, Beverly R. Cohen The Cofeld Judaic Museum, Cissy Grossman A Temple Treasury, etc). Some depicted the berit itself with a large group in attendance, while others dealt with the theme of Elijah and the Messianic Age. Some of the other plates appear to be more personal and referred to family events which were to be stressed for the next generation. Any of these themes or others which the family many suggest would be appropriate.