I was just curious if anyone knows what the inyan of a vacht nacht is?
nobody: would you elaborate on the second reason? (i.e. its application today being that it seems either way we do it the night before the bris)
As Nobody stated, However there is more to this than what is commonly known.
which is attributed to Kabbalistic sources.
Although it is of a controversial nature, So I’ll steer clear.
The earliest references to this custom of Wach-nacht are from sixteenth century Germany, but it seems it was practiced centuries before . Before a bris is performed, the baby and the mother are susceptible to harm from evil spirits. This is especially acute for the baby on the night before the bris, hence the prayer and/or study vigil around his bed. In early times, candles were lit and food was put out on a table to placate these destructive spirits. After the bris the danger dissipates as the child is a full fledged Jew and has the same spritual protection as anyone else. Also explains why for a female this is unncessary, she is full fledged from birth.
I think the reason that nowadays we do Kriyas Shema the night before a Bris and not on Friday night has evolved out of sheer practicality – distance ‘n all that. family driving into state etc.
Anything Kabalistic I steer well away from.
Either way, it’s a lovely custom