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

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Health Concerns? Priority #1

Bris Milah is performed only on a completely healthy baby. We have discussed here and here, in general terms, what would delay a bris. In these next few blog posts, I intend to translate portions from the book Bris Avos (Shabtai Lifshitz), Chapter 9, "The Law of a Baby Who is Ready to be Circumcised, and Which is Not Ready to be Circumcised." The book was first published in Elul 5673 - a few months shy of 100 years ago (it is now Tammuz 5773). It was reprinted by the author's grandson in 1969.
Paragraph 1:
            We do not circumcise a child who has even the slightest indication of illness, on account of our concern for life (Maimonides – chapter one, laws of Milah, as well as the Tur 263:1). They were careful to say even the "slightest indication" (חשש), even if it's not completely apparent. For example, even if he cries excessively, we would not circumcise him yet. The Pischei Teshuvah wrote that even if the baby's belly button was not cared for properly, and it bleeds, we do not circumcise him until he has strengthened, healed and has recovered the lost blood from the bellybutton. In my humble opinion, the baby is not to be circumcised without asking doctors or experts [if he is ready].

The author is making our concern for the baby's health paramount. Obviously the bris milah carries its own risks, but this is the price of this mitzvah.

Having said that, when the bris milah is performed properly on a completely healthy baby, the procedure is usually a smooth one, and baby returns to his normal routine once he is in his parents' arms. Anything out of the ordinary can be a cause for delay. [Normal physiological jaundice need not necessarily be a cause for delay... See here]

Sunday, June 16, 2013

A grandparents record! - Traveling For A Bris in New York

Mazel Tov! Heading to New York today for another bris in New York.

For one set of grandparents, this will be their seventh grandson for which I will have had the privilege to serve as mohel. And I only missed another one of their grandsons because one of my best friends was getting married in Montreal on the same day that the baby's bris was taking place.

The most I have with other grandparents is 6 (I missed #7 for them because I was in Denver for shabbos and they had a Sunday bris in NY).

A few fives and fours (from multiple sets of their children), and very many threes and twos.

Kein Yirbu! B'mazal uv'simcha!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Communication... Will They Lead to A Bris?

When I lived in New York, the traffic of brisses came from a very simple formula.

A couple had a baby, and they called me. They had heard of me, seen me, had friends, knew what they wanted for months, etc. It was VERY rare that someone would call in advance of their son's birth to interview me or to "inquire."

In Florida, I find a very different clientele. I get calls or emails MONTHS in advance. In some cases people are doing research. Asking all the right questions (see links in this post), trying to find the right match.

Some people are getting the lay of the land - perhaps even thinking if they want to go the Mohel route or the Doctor route (see the previous posting!).

Some people are just looking for the best price. (Which is hard to determine in my case, because I don't really have a price)

Some people call when baby is born. Some do not. I am told by some of my colleagues that they have similar experiences all the time.

Other than the calls that will come out of the blue, I have somewhere close to 10 people who have called about my availability over the next few months. We shall see if they call when baby arrives!

God should only bless them with healthy babies.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

News monitor: botched circ, not botched bris!

It's not a bris story, but it is a circumcision story.

See here or keep reading


In 2007, one Chicago family underwent a nightmare at Northwestern hospital: their newborn son’s circumcision went awry, with a doctor amputating the tip of the boy’s penis. According to a lawyer for the family, Dan Kotin, the doctor missed three safety procedures that should have been followed. According to Kotin, the boy lost “the top 40 percent of the head of his penis.”

The doctor’s attorney argued that this was a predictable complication of circumcision, to which Kotin responded, “If that were a known complication to a circumcision procedure, I suggest to you that nobody would dare have a circumcision done because it would be too risky.”
The jury awarded the family $1.3 million in damages.
Someone recently told me that a certain doctor (pediatric urologist) claims to hear of one case like this a year when a mohel does a circumcision with the traditional shield.
I've spoken to mohels and doctors and all agree this is likely untrue. If the mohel (or any operator) is using any kid of clamp, however, the chances are significantly greater that this could happen.
The person who told me of this doctor said it makes the doctor really angry. If it's true, it should. But the above article is a case in point to the surveyed opinion I have heard from doctors who do touch up work, that errors in circs are more often committed by doctors - OB-GYNs and pediatricians. So I wonder if the doctor from the conversation is anti-Semitic, hates mohels, is making things up, or if he actually has proof.
Are mohels perfect? Who is? But the competent mohels remove the right amount of foreskin and certainly protect the glans.

For clarification as to the differences between a traditional shield v the Mogen Clamp, see this posting.