Sunday, July 25, 2010

Timing the Bris

The Bris takes place in daylight hours of the eighth day of the baby’s life. The day of birth is considered the first day of life, unless the baby is born after sunset, in which case the following day is considered the first day.

While a bris is never performed earlier than the eighth day of a baby's life, a bris may be delayed under very specific circumstances:

a. If the baby was born by ceasarian section and the eighth day is the Sabbath or a Festival

b. A baby who contracts an illness must be completely healed before he has his bris.

c. A premature or otherwise very small baby will wait until he achieves a suitable weight for him to withstand the stress of the bris.

While there is no exact definition of a healthy size, many mohels arbitrarily follow a five pound range (give or take a couple of ounces) as a minimal weight upon which to circumcize. Doctors will often clear the baby at lower weights, but when a mohel is uncomfortable due to size reasons it is better to be safe than sorry. Once the baby reaches five pounds, however, if the mohel continues to push it off, it is worth seeking another mohel so as not to continue delaying this important, timely mitzvah.

ps. When a baby is being circumcised for the sake of conversion (most typically on account of adoption - though some mohels will do such when the baby's mother is not Jewish), it need not take place on the eighth day of his life because there is no "mitzvah" to circumcise him. In this case, the circumcision should take place sooner than later, but the timing will be determined based on when the baby arrives at his adoptive family, and when they are ready to have his circumcision.

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