Frequently asked questions
Why do we do a Bris?
The heavens and the earth and all that are found in them exist and are preserved in the merit of the great mitzvah of bris milah, as it is written (Jeremiah, 33:25): “If not for my covenant, I would not have put in place the day and night and the laws of heaven and earth.” The word bris means “covenant” and the word milah means “circumcision”. Bris milah is a Jewish ritual which establishes a permanent covenant with G-d.
Dr. vs Mohel
Why specifically on the eighth day?
Why should parents want or need to use a Mohel to perform a Bris?
How do I explain the bris to his older sibling(s)?
Will It Hurt?
This is most parents' biggest fear about circumcision. Although we now know that newborns do feel pain, the pain of a bris, especially in the hands of a well-trained mohel, is minimal. After having gone through the process, parents say it hurt THEM much more than it really bothered their child!
Nonetheless, we want to do everything we can to make the procedure easy on your newborn son. The best way to minimize the discomfort is to perform the circumcision as quickly as possible. Mohelim are trained to perform circumcisions competently, but also quickly. It takes Rabbi Perman 20 seconds to perform a circumcision. So, it's over before you know it.
In addition, Rabbi Perman can offer you an anesthetic cream to apply before the bris. It numbs the skin, decreasing pain your baby may feel. It is your choice whether to use the cream or not. however it is not recomended by Rabbi Perman.
What is Bris Milah?
The word itself means “Covenant of Circumcision”. It is the sign attesting to the everlasting covenant that G-d established with Abraham and his descendants (Genesis 17). It was then reiterated through Moses 500 years later: “And on the 8th day he shall have his foreskin circumcised” (Leviticus 12:3).
What ceremony is done for a Girl?
Please visit my "having a Girl" page for more info.
What is a Pidyon Haben?
This is a rare and often unknown mitzvah that some baby boys get the opportunity to have at 30 days old. This applies when a baby is born naturally and is the first born of the mother. Also this only applies if the parents are not Kohanim or Leviim. If you need an opportunity to invite friends and family for another mitzvah and celebration, this is it! For more information, go here.
Can we do a Bris on the Sabbath?
Although it would seem a violation of the laws of Shabbos, under certain conditions, a bris can be performed on Shabbos. First, the baby must be born on Shabbos, naturally. The baby must also be conceived naturally. The bris must not be a cause for others to violate the Sabbath. Pictures are not allowed by the ceremony, accommodations for guests should be available so they do not have to travel, and the baby must come to the bris in an acceptable way.
What time of day should the Bris take place?
The bris may be performed any time of the day from sunrise until sunset. Since it is preferable to fulfill a mitzvah as early as possible, it is best to schedule the bris in the morning and not postpone it until the afternoon if possible. One should, at least, not use a less-qualified mohel in order to have the bris done at a time which is too early or late or before or after the 8th day.
Does the Bris have to be done in a Synagogue?
A Bris does not have to be done at a Synagogue. My experience is that most families have the Bris where it’s most comfortable for them. It can be at your home, a synagogue or what ever space you chose for the ceremony
What happens in the ceremony?
How am I going to get all my family and friends involved? How long is the ceremony? These are all great questions. The Bris ceremony is a very special occasion and is accompanied by much happiness and rejoicing. There are several honors to be conferred during the ceremony, usually bestowed upon the relatives and close friends of the baby’s family. The number of honors can always be minimized or maximized in order to include every relative or friend that needs to be included. I often joke with parents and tell them that learning how to do a bris was easy. The hard part was learning how to organize a “politically safe” line-up of honorees.
When do I call to schedule a Bris?
Unless you have a question or concern, you do not need to contact me until the child is born. Once he is born, I am the third phone call (both sets of grandparents, then the Mohel). I may be reached at any of the following numbers: 314-727-Brit (2748) or 800-85MOHEL (800-856-6435) Office / 314-498-6279 cell. If you reach my voice mail please leave all numbers, including the area code, where both parents may be reached. Any calls received Friday night or Saturday, will be returned Saturday night approximately one hour after sundown. When we speak, we will schedule the bris and a convenient time for me to come meet with you either in the hospital or at home to discuss and plan the ceremony.
How is the eighth day determined?
The day of birth is counted as the first day. Jewish days begin and end at sunset. For example, a baby born on a Sunday will have his Bris the following Sunday. A baby born on Sunday night after sunset will have his Bris the following Monday. A baby born by caesarian section on Friday night or Saturday will have his Bris the following Sunday. A baby born by caesarian section where the Bris coincides the following week with a holiday will have his Bris on the next available weekday. A Bris must be performed during daylight hours. A Bris performed at night or before the eighth day is not valid.
Does a Bris require a ceremony?
The Mitzvah of Bris is the act of removing the forskin, it is nice when to share the celebration of this great Mitzvah with family and friends but it does not diminish the Mitzvah in any way.
Do I have to appoint Godparents?
No. The term Godparents alludes to legal guardians and it is not necessary to have this determined prior to the bris. Although the terms Kvater and Kvaterin (the individuals who carry the baby into the bris room) are often translated as Godfather and Godmother, there is no concept of Godparents in Judaism and those given this honor have no legal responsibilty.
Will I receive documentation certifying the Bris?
Following the Bris you will receive a certificate that is universally recognized. It contains the following information relating to your son: Baby's name in both Hebrew and transliterated into English, Jewish date of Birth, date of the Bris, and parents Hebrew names. This Certificate will serve as a reference for future life cycle events.
Who Gets to Choose?
The parents of the child are the ones to choose the infant’s name. The giving of the name should be by agreement of both parents. However, if the parents disagree on a name, a common solution is for the name to be chosen in an alternating order.
Naming After Someone
Some people name their child after a relative, such as a grandparent or great-grandparent, to perpetuate the deceased person’s memory. Some choose to name their child after a great Jewish leader or a Biblical figure. Still others choose a Hebrew name simply for its meaning, for example “Chaim” which means “life” or “Simcha” which means “happiness.”
Customs vary concerning naming a child after a relative who is still living. Sephardim (Jews of Spanish or Middle Eastern decent) readily name their children after living relatives, whereas Ashkenazim (Jews of Polish, Russian, or German decent) name their children only after someone who has passed away.