At today's bris, as I was changing the bandage post-bris (in the Private Room), I was chatting with the baby nurse. She is relatively new in the field, and so all of her experiences are very clearly etched in her memory.
She told me that the last baby she cared for was brought to the hospital after the bris, because the mohel cut too much. I could not get a sense of the gravity of the details in question, though she indicated that the baby's glans had been seriously nicked. In either case, she said, "There was so much bleeding. It was a horror."
I asked her if she had accompanied the baby to the hospital. She did, with the baby's parents and their other child.
Getting a better sense of what happened, I asked her to describe the mohel, and her description was of a Hassidic Jew. BEFORE we begin to JUDGE and throw people under the bus, a few sensible reactions.
1. There are many fine Hassidic mohels.
Hmmm. I guess that was only one.
Now for the real reaction.
1. No baby should EVER need to go to the hospital after a bris, with the exception of a baby who has previously undetected hemophilia
2. The mohel in question most likely utilized Method #3 as described here. I believe in the strongest of terms that a mohel who insists on not even using a shield IS A FOOL AND SHOULD NOT BE ALLOWED TO BE A MOHEL ANYWHERE.
3. I strongly encourage EVERY mohel to utilize a surgical marker to guide the incision that will be made
4. While I certainly hope stories like this are uncommon - because no baby or parent should ever have such an experience - you ought to know they are common enough that I hear about them every now and then. But parents tend not to talk about it, because it is embarrassing.
You know what's embarrassing? What's embarrassing to the Torah and to Judaism is that something like this happens in the first place. We perform this mitzvah because we believe strongly in the covenant between Avraham and God as described in Genesis 17, and we also believe that while doing the bris is a difficult choice to make because "who really wants to do this to one's baby?" we also believe that the benefits of the covenant far outweigh the minimal ordeal that the bris ought to be.
Parents BEWARE. There are EXCELLENT mohels. Very MANY excellent mohels.
And there are mohels who should find a different field, one in which they have no opportunity to do permanent damage to your baby.
Not every bris turns out 100% perfect. And every doctor will tell you that that is OK. But DAMAGE should not be tolerated, and should never be an option.
Hashem Yishmor. Amen.
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