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Welcome to Mohel in South Florida

Welcome to mohelinsouthflorida.com -  the most comprehensive and up to date mohel blog on the internet . My name is Avi Billet, and I am so ...

Monday, March 22, 2021

What Being a Mohel Means to Me

 Being a mohel means I have the opportunity to:

See life anew on a regular basis

Be a part of a family's celebration of their new son

Thursday, February 25, 2021

Fascinating Personal Stories

 Maybe one day I'll write a book. 

I guess any profession gives people an opportunity to meet all kinds of people. 

The commonality in this one is that everyone is going through the exact same life-changing event - the arrival of a newborn, and then his circumcision for the sake of the Covenant - but life circumstances make it different for every person. 

Just to give a few vignettes from the last few months:

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

The Biblical (Torah) Sources for What We Do

 There are two sources in the Torah that can serve as instructions for the idea of circumcision, and a few other important references to the idea that circumcision is an integral component of the definition of Jewish peoplehood. 

The first time the subject of circumcision is raised is in Bereshit (Genesis) Chapter 17, in the context of the BRIT - Covenant - forged between Abraham and God.

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Defining Terms - Bris Milah

One of the key features of the service I provide is the "Service" itself, also known as the ceremony. 

While there isn't a canned speech, or a re-used script, simply because the ceremony is straightforward, it often enough comes out rather similar from family to family.

However, as every family is different, and as family dynamics are often different, the challenge is to find the balance that works for the particular blend of people gathered for each celebration.

We begin with a definition of terms. In this case BRIS MILAH.

People may find themselves saying "I am going to a bris" or "I went to a bris."

Sunday, December 27, 2020

Once Upon A Time...

 Last week I had a unique experience. 

I got a call on Sunday for a Thursday Bris. And I got a call on Monday for a Friday Bris. The truth is that those kinds of calls are a little late. Most people call closer to baby’s birth to confirm availability, but thankfully these days people are VERY flexible with the Bris timing, so I’m usually able to accommodate everyone anyway. 

Both families are relatively recent transplants to Florida from NY, and the dad for the Thursday Bris had been in touch months ago when most of the recommendations he had received sent him here. 

So we booked, and all was good. 

Then on Monday I got a different phone call, from someone who had gotten my name through very different channels, but also mentioned to me “Everyone we know has used your services.” 

Then he told me, “My wife’s sister gave birth the night before her, so we’re actually going to a Bris the day before our son’s Bris. Actually, I’m not sure if my brother in law and sister in law know who to call, as they moved to Florida more recently. I’ll let them know about you. If you hear from ____, that’s them.”

I smiled. “Actually, they’re the Thursday Bris I’m doing. So I guess I’ll be seeing you two days in a row!”

One set of grandparents had two new grandsons born to their daughters 24 hours apart. 

Independent of each other’s plans, both cousins had the same Mohel.  

Pretty cool! 

Monday, December 7, 2020

Light in the Darkness

 Our world has been turned upside down in many ways. We all long for a return to normalcy, to a world without masks, and the ability to see smiles. 

In all this, one thing has remained a constant - children are being born. 

Up until now, the children that have entered the world were mostly conceived before any lockdowns. Any children born in the coming weeks and months will have been conceived after lockdowns - which means that while no one could predict the future or what the future would look like (i.e. 2 weeks which have become 9 months), the human spirit has indicated that we are not stopping to live life and to bring new life into the world. 

With Chanukah beginning this week, the concept of the Menorah illuminating the darkness is a fitting symbol of the soul of the Jewish people as a collective. We are here. We are participating in life affirmation. We will see through this time to a better tomorrow. And we will continue to affirm our commitment to God through practicing one of the rituals the villains of the Chanukah story tried to take away from us - our Covenant with God, which has carried us through the millennia to where we are today. (Which is where my job comes into the picture). It is a blessing to see the smiles and to join in the celebration - as the mohel - when the baby is a boy and he is having his bris.

We are a people who survive all obstacles - whether human borne or nature borne. We live to make a Kiddush Hashem, to sanctify God's name in this world. We carry the torch that is the shining light of our Torah and our ancient traditions. 

We don't extinguish the light - we contribute the light.

Blessings to all for a happy Chanukah. And blessings to those who will be bringing life into this dark world. May these precious Jewish neshamas be a light of joy in your household, and may they be the symbol of hope for ourselves and our people in the hopefully numbered days of difficulty that still lie ahead of us. 

Sunday, August 16, 2020

Bris on Chol HaMoed or Hoshana Rabba

This is one of a series of blog posts on things that might be done differently at a bris taking place on a special day on the Jewish calendar. See all of the links at this dedicated page

The book "Otzar HaBris" (Yossele Weisberg) has a section of halakhot surrounding what is done differently on noted days of the Jewish calendar.

 With respect to a bris to be held on Chol HaMoed or Hoshana Rabba, he writes the following:

 1. For Chol HaMoed, the Mohel may cut his fingernails as per his bris milah needs (normally cutting fingernails is prohibited on Chol HaMoed).
2. For Hoshana Rabba, there is a custom to include the Pizmon of "Zchor Bris" after אנא אזן חין (which is the second piyut after the Hoshana circuits have been concluded)
3. The meal should be held earlier than later on account of the Yom Tov (holiday) that will begin in the evening.
 4. The bris should take place after Torah reading and before Hoshanos (unless the Hoshanos follow Hallel and take place before the Torah reading - AB)


Thursday, August 13, 2020

Bris on Sukkos (Sukkot)

This is one of a series of blog posts on things that might be done differently at a bris taking place on a special day on the Jewish calendar. See all of the links at this dedicated page

The book "Otzar HaBris" (Yossele Weisberg) has a section of halakhot surrounding what is done differently on noted days of the Jewish calendar.

 With respect to a bris to be held on Sukkos, he writes the following:

 1. The bris need not take place in the Sukkah
2. When we say the blessing on the wine, we give the wine to the baby. Alternatively, the person reciting the bracha should drink a small amount, less than a cheekful
3. The celebratory meal should be held in the Sukkah. If the Sukkah is not big enough, it may be expanded on Chol HaMoed (normally we don't add to the Sukkah, but this is an allowance for the sake of a mitzvah... this rule should probably in the "Chol HaMoed" section, but Rabbi Weisberg included it in the bris on the holiday section - AB)

 The last points he raises are less about a Bris on Sukkos and more about the baby born during the holiday (whose Bris will be after the holiday)
1. Some have the custom to give the baby the name of the "Ushpizin" of the day which he was born Day 1 = Avraham
Day 2 = Yitzchak
Day 3 = Yaakov
Day 4 = Moshe
Day 5 = Aharon
Day 6 = Yosef
Day 7 = David

2. Some have the custom to name a baby born on the holiday "Yom Tov"

 Next up, a bris on Chol HaMoed or Hoshana Rabba

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

A Bris on Erev Sukkos

This is one of a series of blog posts on things that might be done differently at a bris taking place on a special day on the Jewish calendar. See all of the links at this dedicated page

The book "Otzar HaBris" (Yossele Weisberg) has a section of halakhot surrounding what is done differently on noted days of the Jewish calendar.

 With respect to a bris to be held on Erev Sukkos, he writes the following:
 1. Because of the need to prepare for the holiday, the celebratory meal (and of course the Bris) should be finished by midday.

 Next up, a bris on Sukkos

Sunday, August 9, 2020

Bris on Yom Kippur

This is one of a series of blog posts on things that might be done differently at a bris taking place on a special day on the Jewish calendar. See all of the links at this dedicated page

The book "Otzar HaBris" (Yossele Weisberg) has a section of halakhot surrounding what is done differently on noted days of the Jewish calendar.

With respect to a bris to be held on Yom Kippur, he writes the following:

1. The bris takes place after the Torah reading, before Ashrei.
2. Some say it takes place after Ashrei but before the Torah is returned to the Ark
3. If the bris must take place in a different room, the Torah is returned to the Ark, and then the bris takes place before the Chazzan for Mussaf begins his introductory prayer. (If this prayer is skipped for some reason, the bris takes place before Kaddish, though some pesukim should be said before Kaddish)
4. During the Selichos section of Shacharis, the pizmon "Zchor Bris" should be said
5. A husband and wife may be kvatter on Yom Kippur (this is included because of the prohibition on YK related to the spousal relationship - of course there is no concern at a public ceremony on the holiest day of the year)
6. Some say the blessings over the bris omit the blessing on the wine.
7. Some say we include the blessing on the wine, but give some of the wine to the baby
8. If the baby's mother is not fasting (which is uncommon, but is possible) and she is present at the bris, she may be given the wine to drink
9. Some leave over the wine from the bris and use it for Havdalah
10. The mohel may not put any liquid in his mouth, so if he does metzitzah without a barrier, he must wipe his mouth without using any liquid. Any liquid he puts on the baby must be applied with the hand only. (Using a tube for metzitzah would avoid this issue. There are those who are of the opinion that metzitzah should not be done at all on YK - AB.)
11. There is a custom to give the baby the name "Rachamim" (mercy) if his bris is on Yom Kippur.

Next up, a bris on Erev Sukkos