I have learned, and seen in practice, that we don't invite people to a b'rit milah directly but rather just announce a date and place. The reason, according to this answer citing Rema Yoreh Deah 265:12, is that it would be bad to decline an invitation but if you weren't invited, you can choose to not attend.

I understand that b'rit milah is an important mitzvah and worthy of celebration, but why, more specifically, is it bad to decline an invitation to one? We don't seem to have this problem with other s'machot, like weddings. (Or, at least, I couldn't find any "not really an invitation" wordings for weddings via Google.)

  • A question here, linked from the answer I linked to, asks why we do this and whether it applies to other s'machot; the answer there does not address the latter. – Monica Cellio May 15 '15 at 1:28
  • +1. This is a great question. You'd think the same reasoning would apply to a wedding feast, for example. This is based on P'sachim 113b, which mentions an opinion that people who avoid participating in a gathering for a mitzva feast are considered excommunicated by Heaven. Based on P'sachim 49a, Rashi (113b) and Tosafos (114a) give examples of such a mitzva feast: for a circumcision and for a wedding between a kohen and the daughter of a kohen (the latter e.g. was really only given to contrast with a case where the daughter of a kohen marries an 'am ha'aretz of the basest order). – Fred May 15 '15 at 2:47
  • ...Essentially, a Jewish wedding feast is considered a mitzva feast (see P'sachim 49, and this article for some proofs of this), and it may even be a higher level of mitzva feast than for a circumcision (see, for e.g., Bei'ur HaGra OC 640:6). – Fred May 15 '15 at 2:53
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    Actually, the Rama doesn't directly mention the idea to avoid inviting people, but the Pischei T'shuva (YD 265:18) cites the מקום שמואל (number 80) in the name of the Sharvit HaZahav as the source for this custom. The Rama just mentions that someone who avoids attending a circumcision feast is considered as if he is excommunicated by Heaven. – Fred May 15 '15 at 3:22
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    My wedding "invitation" was careful to avoid language of inviting. – Y     e     z May 15 '15 at 3:44

Rav Jachter notes the particular significance comes from

Tosafot (Pesachim 114a s.v. Ve’ein) explains that the Midrash states that one who eats at a Seudat Brit Milah is spared from Gehenom.... We might suggest another reason for the seriousness of this matter. We mentioned that Chazal compare a Brit to a Korban. Accordingly, we may compare eating at a Seudat Brit Milah to eating a Korban. Sharing a meal is a bonding experience. When we eat a Korban we celebrate our relationship with Hashem (see Rav Joshua Berman's "The Temple," which develops this point at length). Similarly, when we participate in a Seudat Brit Milah we celebrate the covenant between Hashem and the Jewish People.

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    Although I'm not sure why the first reason Rav Jachter offers would explain bris milah specifically, as Tosafos there quotes the Midrash which says the gehenom saving applies to the chasana seuda of a Talmid Chacham as well as the chasana seuda for the daughter of a Kohen to a Kohen. – NJM Mar 13 '17 at 3:57
  • Does he then argue that because a seudat b'rit milah is a celebration of our covenant with God, one can't decline an invitation to one? Would a Shavuot meal have the same consideration? – Monica Cellio May 12 '17 at 14:36

I thought the avoidance of a formal invitation was related to Eliyahu haNavi's presence at the bris. It would be a perceived slight to his honor if one was formally invited to the bris/seudah and did not attend. I'm looking for a source.

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