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
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 ...
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:
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.
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."
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.
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.