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Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Born Without a Foreskin - Anything Done Differently?

The male organ develops differently for every (male) child in utero. In some cases it even develops without a foreskin, or with barely any foreskin - it develops in a manner that is described in Halakhic works as either "Mahul" (a fully circumcised look) or "Chatzi Mahul" (a partially circumcised look).

I have seen this a handful of times in my fifteen years in the business. The procedure for removing the "partial foreskin" is obviously quite different than a run of the mill circumcision - for what I hope are obvious reasons.

When there is a partial foreskin, the circumcision "cleans up" the extra skin that is preventing the circumcised look. While not a full circumcision, it is nonetheless a surgical procedure and should be treated the same way a circumcision is, insofar as that if the baby is ill, we would delay the bris 7 days until he is completely healthy.

But when there is no foreskin at all, and the child only needs "Hatafat Dam," which is a (mostly symbolic) minimal drawing of blood, will the same rule of waiting apply?

Here is from "Bris Avos" - same chapter (see previous blog post), paragraph 4.

In the Responsa "She'eilat Shalom" the question was asked whether a child born without a developed foreskin ("Mahul") [who cannot be circumcised, but would need "hatafat dam"] can have the hatafat dam on the 8th day if he became ill. [Hatafat Dam is a ritual which does not require follow up medical care]. The answer he gave is that it is not only forbidden to do anything to him while he is ill, but one would need to wait the same requisite 7 days after he is healed in order to do the Hatafat Dam, just as one would wait the requisite seven days before doing a full circumcision.

Amazing chiddush! I would have thought since Hatafat Dam is really "no big deal" it wouldn't matter, and it could be done right away. But he says it is treated like a regular Bris Milah, and the requisite seven day waiting period would apply were the baby to become ill before the eighth day of his life.

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