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. This act symbolizes the relationship with G-d, thus must be a physical act done by us. Truthfully, one is able to appear circumcised even if one never had a circumcision, thus we must say that the bris milah is not a tribal identification mark rather the removal of the foreskin itself has important effects. Though G-d is perfect this His actions must be perfect, He created us imperfect with the intention that we perfect ourselves and the world around us. Similarly, the removal of the foreskin gives us power to remove our negativity and revealing our inner G-dly soul. Women are also included in the mitzvah in that they are, so-to-speak, already born circumcised -possessing this holy connection to G-d from birth. On a diper level women are spiritualy much higher then men, therefore they do not need a physical action to perfect them selves. Additionally, a bris milah gives the baby boy and his family enormous spiritual and physical blessings. Therefore, it is important to chose a mohel who is sensitive to the physical as well as spiritual needs of the baby.




Dr. vs Mohel


There are many reasons why a medical circumcision in a hospital does not constitute a kosher bris milah. First, they may not do it at the proper time nor on the eigth day, both of which are necessary (see below). Second, the devices used in hospitals to perform circumcisions (such as the Gomco or Mogen clamps) are not kosher. These clamps are also very painful and not precise, as one doctor writes himself: “… a Mogen clamp is carefully placed…. waiting a moment to allow for tissue fusion.” You can view a video here, warning it is graphic. The medical profession must provide a procedure that can be taught to medical students, nurses, or PAs. As a result, their methods may be easy to perform but are lengthy, painful, thus require anesthesia. Additionally, giving injections of anesthesia to a small baby and using hemostats (medical pliars) are more painful than the actual bris itself. Doctors are great professionals, but a mohel is a specialist in kosher circumcision. The most experienced, skillful, and pain-free choice is to use a full-time mohel. A traditonal bris is quick and done as the baby sits in the arms of a loved one in the comfort of your home or synagogue. Additionally no painful devices are used which clamp or harm the baby in anyway. Every bris I do follows FDA regulations, US Health Department standards, and fulfills all American Board of Ritual Circumcision guidelines.




Why specifically on the eighth day?


The simple reason is this is what G-d wants, but there are many works of kabbalah and midrash that help explain this mitzvah. One, is that the baby needs time to grow and develop in order to be safe, but not grow too old where he will be in pain. Secondly, the eight days between the birth of the child and the bris always include at least one Shabbos: G-d created the world in six days and rested on the seventh day — the Shabbos. It is the holiest day of the week and thus blesses all the other days of the week, we want the baby to have his bris after he gets this blessing. Seven is a number found in the laws of nature, i.e. 7 days of the week, 7 notes on the scale, etc. The bris takes place on the eighth day, indicating that the act of circumcision represents something that is higher than nature. After having attained perfection with nature during the first seven days, now, on the eighth day, the child draws down their G-dly soul which is higher than nature. Thus, through the act of circumcision, the Jew is given the power and ability throughout life to overcome all obstacles in his service of G-d; he is able to rise above his own natural limitations. Under no circumstance may a bris be performed before the eighth day. It is only delayed if G-d forbid the child is sick or there are other pressing circumstances.




Why should parents want or need to use a Mohel to perform a Bris?


Traditionally, the parents engage a mohel to perform the Bris. A mohel is a person who is specially trained in the medical and surgical techniques of circumcision. In addition to being an expert in his field, the mohel is also an expert in the Jewish laws pertaining to Bris Milah. A doctor’s medical circumcision, usually performed in the hospital within the first few days after birth, does not fulfill the requirements of a Bris Milah and is not considered valid according to Jewish law. The Bris must be performed by a Jewish person who understands, upholds and practices the tenets of the Jewish religion and is specially trained to function as a mohel. It is important to choose a Mohel with whom you feel comfortable, someone who will be accommodating to the specific needs of the family. Pediatricians, obstetricians and urologists constantly marvel at the work of a good mohel. I personally feel that in order to be considered an expert Mohel, it is necessary to spend a significant amount of time in training and apprenticing in order to become familiar with the many challenging variations of the Bris area and its impact on how the Bris must be performed in each case. Another reason to use a mohel is to guarantee that the technique used to perform the Bris is acceptable in Jewish law and not the standard procedure used in hospitals.




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. A brief description of the ceremony is as follows: A couple enters with the baby and the baby is placed on a chair designated as the Chair of Elijah. The baby is then placed upon the lap of the Sandek (most often a grandfather) who holds the baby during the circumcision procedure. After the appropriate blessing is recited, the circumcision is performed by the mohel. Immediately following the Bris, another blessing is said over a cup of wine, and the baby receives his official Hebrew name, which he will proudly carry throughout his life. The newborn child is often named after departed relatives, a symbolic source of continued life for those no longer with us. The ceremony ends with the resounding wish of Mazel Tov! followed by the serving of refreshments or a light meal. The entire ceremony lasts approximately 25 minutes.




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.

What Area Do We Service?

Services are provided throughout the United States and Canada. In particular, we service the midwest states of Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas, Nebraska, Colorado, Iowa, & Oklahoma. With our base being in Overland Park, KS.

 

For information about your particular location, contact Rabbi Schneur Perman.

Make an Appointment

Contact Rabbi Perman directly by:

  1. 913-735-Day8 (3298)

  2. Email KCMohel@gmail.com

  3. Click here to submit our online form.

 

All consultations are free; including in-person meetings when feasible.