A Mohel in America once asked me to bring some earth/sand from Israel to America for him to bury the orlahs (foreskins) in after doing a Bris. Does anyone here know of a source for putting the orlah in earth/sand specifically from Israel after a bris?

[I'm not looking for a source for putting the orlah in earth in general, just for earth specifically from Israel]

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    Did you ask him for a source and not produce one or did you not ask him at all?
    – Oliver
    Commented May 31, 2018 at 14:03
  • Wondering out loud: how old can this ritual be if up until not so long ago it wasn't so easy (read: incredibly difficult) to bring Israeli soil back to the diaspora?
    – Oliver
    Commented May 31, 2018 at 17:13
  • @Oliver I didn't ask. Re:Difficulty to bring in soil. first of all the ritual was not just for usa.Maybe originaly it wasnt such a problem. Second since its not obligatory but a custom done by some mohels only, There cant be a quetion "how can this be?" Besides even doing mandatory mitzvos come by with quite some difficulty at times. Commented May 31, 2018 at 17:35
  • I'd suggest putting in a call to the mohel. 1. By "diaspora" USA didn't even cross my mind. Sending Israeli soil to Europe or North Africa wasn't so feasible even via Pony Express or Carnival Cruises. 2. If it was done by "some mohels only" that itself would raise an eyebrow. 3. I'm not asking so much "how can this be" rather, more "how likely was this"
    – Oliver
    Commented May 31, 2018 at 17:43
  • @Oliver 1-Why not feasible? 2- why would it raise an eyebrow? There are many many customs which are not followed by all Jews. Commented May 31, 2018 at 18:25

2 Answers 2


According to this article:

Some Diaspora mohels use a tin with Israeli soil inside so that the foreskin can be "buried in Israel."

I assume that this thinking may be related to the general notion that the foreskin is part of one's body. Just as the ideal place for a dead person to be buried would be in Israel, there's probably a similar "ideal" to use the soil of Israel to bury the foreskin.

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    Soil from Israel in a tin isn't Israel. You don't have to separate tithes if you plant something there. If this answer we're correct then why not fill human graves too with bags of soil from Israel? Seems way cheaper than flying over a body
    – Double AA
    Commented May 31, 2018 at 3:01
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    @DoubleAA Youre right that its not exactly like being buried in israel itself- but yes, there are many people that do put some eath from Israel on the burial site of people who are buried outside of Israel and it does have some significance as being connected with burial in Israel. Commented May 31, 2018 at 8:19
  • @DoubleAA Actually, the Yerushlami (Klayim 9:4) betrays the notion that soil of Israel atones for the dead who lived during their lifetime in the diaspora and are brought to Israel for burial. However, this idea is rejected by one of the Amoraim involved in that episode arguing that even if it were so such a burial practice would only atone for those buried in Israel. Nevertheless, Hagaot Maimoniot (Melachim 5:11) quotes this Yerushalmi and ends off "מכאן נראה סמך למה שנהגו להניח עפר מארץ ישראל על המתים אע״ג דההיא ירושלמי מיירי בארץ ישראל".
    – Oliver
    Commented May 31, 2018 at 14:27
  • @DoubleAA I agree that it's far from a great answer. But, I think it does answer OP's question. During a shmita year, I see ads in my local paper for people selling soil from Israel to people outside of Israel. This way, they can put it in a planter and plant some fruit and feel that they participated in shmittah. Yes, it is absolutely a marketing gimmick, but, people go for these ideas.
    – DanF
    Commented May 31, 2018 at 14:31
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    This article is considered a "source"?(!)
    – Oliver
    Commented May 31, 2018 at 17:46

The one connection I can see between brit mila and Israel comes from Bereishit 17:8-11 which shows the possession of the Land of Israel depends on circumcision.

I assign the land you sojourn in to you and your offspring to come, all the land of Canaan, as an everlasting holding. I will be their God. God further said to Abraham, As for you, you and your offspring to come throughout the ages shall keep My covenant. Such shall be the covenant between Me and you and your offspring to follow which you shall keep: every male among you shall be circumcised. You shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin, and that shall be the sign of the covenant between Me and you.

So two possible explanations I can propose for this custom

  • either one wishes to acknowledge/demonstrate/strengthen the connection between orla and Eretz Israel by burying the first in sand from the second
  • or (based on Rashi on 17:8 quoting Ketubot 110b: "whoever resides outside of Israel is as if he has no God") one wishes to compensate for the fact that the baby is outside of Israel by showing attachment to the Land of Israel by burying the orla in sand from Eretz Israel
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    [This is speculation. Don't shoot me for it] - I Shoot you with an honor Salute for this beautiful idea! Commented May 31, 2018 at 8:35
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    I certainly won't shoot you :) In browsing for an answer, yesterday, I did see an allusion to some of these ideas mentioned in a Google Book. I'll put in the link, if I can (re)locate it.
    – DanF
    Commented May 31, 2018 at 14:33

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