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There is an event the night before a Bris. It's called Vacht Nacht in Yiddish and called Zohar amongst certain Sefardim; I am aware that people of German decent have a third name for it, which I can't recall. What is the source for this event?

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3 Answers 3

I believe the Zohar (Lech Lecha 90b) is the source for the recitation of the Zohar. The idea of a Shlaom Zachor is mentioned in the Rama 265. However, this idea is in the aforementioned Shach.

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Gabriel are you saying Zohar and Vacht Nacht are diffrent –  simchastorah Jan 5 '12 at 22:15
    
No the idea of reading the Zohar is from the Zohar, but the entire idea that we eat fruits etc. stems from that Shach. @simchashatorah –  Hacham Gabriel Jan 5 '12 at 23:26
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From wikipedia:

As described in Edut L'Yisrael: Sheiruta di'Tzlota (a text on customs surrounding weddings and births in Judaism, published in Israel c. 1960), the current practice appears to be a combination of two distinct customs.

Firstly, as stressed in the Kabbalistic sources, the night before the circumcision is considered a spiritually dangerous time for the baby; as such, the father would gather ten men to conduct a vigil to study Torah to protect him from metaphysical damage. Thus, this night is given the Yiddish name, "night of watching [or 'guarding']".

Secondly, non-Kabbalistic sources describe a practice several centuries old that on the Friday night before the bris milah, a melamed would take his preschool-age students to say Shema near the baby, and afterwards receive candy (or their equivalent at that point in history, namely nuts or dried fruit.)

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Your second is a Shalom Zachor not what I was asking about –  simchastorah Jan 5 '12 at 23:32
    
@simchashatorah, sortof. Many people observe "VachtNacht" today by having kids come over to say Shema with the baby the night before the Bris. So they're blending "have adults protect the baby the night before the Bris" with "let's make a nice field trip for kids for their educational purposes, we'll do it Friday night when people are around." –  Shalom Jan 6 '12 at 0:23
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