Thursday, January 13, 2011

He's YOUR Son, Really

I've blogged about this before - but it deserves a repeat every now and then (though I am presenting things differently)

I was invited to do a bris on shabbos recently, outside of my home town, so my family enjoyed the good company of our relatives who hosted us and the lovely community where the new baby's bris would take place.

Being a visitor for shabbos, as the mohel for the bris in town, I was comfortable introducing myself as a mohel to people (especially pregnant people), even though normally I hesitate to do so (it's my bad business sense that prevents me from this sort of 'ambulance chasing.') In this context it was normal. I met a lot of people, and the conversation always went like this.

"Nice to meet you. Welcome to our community. I am ____, what's your name?"
"Avi Billet. Nice to meet you too."

"What brings you here for shabbos?"
"I am doing the bris tomorrow/ I am doing the bris this morning/ I was the mohel this morning for the bris."

"O - Mazal tov!"

"Thank you. Mazal tov. Good shabbos!"

I had a conversation along these lines with a couple who is expecting a baby soon, at which point they said, "Well, our family only uses Mohel X."

Were you happy with the procedure, with the ceremony, are you aware that the way he does a bris might not follow your standards of halakha (Jewish law)?

"If you know anything about my parents" (says one member of the couple) "you won't argue and you won't ask any questions either."

To which I said, "But it's YOUR baby! YOU have the right to choose what YOU want."

Please don't misunderstand. Had they given any indication that they LOVED (or even liked) the mohel in question, I would have dropped the conversation. An A+ experience with a mohel is a beautiful thing, and they should return to it.

But, they were hesitant, they seemed unsure, and frankly, a little too adherent to old-school mentalities as dictated to them by their parents/ in-laws.

Everyone wants a mohel who does a good job where it counts - meaning surgically, asthetically, and healing wise. Everyone wants there to be minimal bleeding, and for the baby to heal quickly, and without incident. There are never guarantees with anything in life, which is why you do your research, and you pray and hope for the best.

But some people would also like a mohel who relates to them in a way others don't. They want personality "b" instead of personality "a."

All I am saying is this: You NEVER need to settle for an option that is disagreeable to you. Look around, know what questions you want answered, and what you want the answers to be. Make a few phone calls. Read websites, blogs, discussion groups, interview a few mohels, and make a decision.  You owe it to yourself to have the best experience YOU want to have. And you owe it to your baby to give him the best care in every department.

  • A mohel who does a bris according to the halakhic dictates of the lifestyle you have chosen for yourself (or the level in Jewish law that you at least want for your son's bris)
  • a ceremony that agrees with your personalities and the style you want for yourselves and your guests
  • a standard of sterility that is top-notch for a public ceremony such as a bris
  • a bris that has a time limit - that does not drag on
  • that starts on time and finishes in a timely manner that is respectable to all present - most notably the baby, but which is also sensitive to the needs and schedules of those honoring you with their presence
Best of luck in your research, and in making the choice that is right for YOU.

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