Monday, September 30, 2013

Gloves Revisited

Rabbi Aryeh Leibowitz recently wrote an article/essay that explores the halakhic appropriateness of using Gloves while performing a mitzvah, with a specific focus on whether gloves (sterile, of course) should be worn when a mohel performs a bris.

I have written about gloves here. And if I did not make it clear there, I believe that once a mohel chooses to wear gloves (which all parents should INSIST upon!), the only gloves of choice are STERILE gloves - which usually come packaged in pairs.

Full disclosure is that I discussed some of these matters with Rabbi Leibowitz while he was in the draft stage, though I did not review the article before it was posted on the internet.

Here is the link to Rabbi Leibowitz's article. (link goes to the TorahMusings website)

Feel free to chime in (though only relevant and appropriate comments will be approved below)

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Bris Wine and Baby


A recent experience caused me to rethink not the concept, nor the method, but the source of the wine we give to the baby.

As discussed in the original posting on wine, the source for giving the baby wine most likely comes from the situations in which he is the ideal candidate for drinking it because everyone else is fasting, and no one else has had any of the wine. That the wine is soothing and may act as a kind of analgesic is an added benefit - but is frankly, irrelevant after the circumcision is over (which is the point in time when most of the wine is typically given to him). 

"What happened recently?" you ask.  I'll tell you.

I was about to give some wine to the baby, when the person who had just taken a sip said to me, "I'm sick! Don't give the baby any wine from that cup."

I readily complied and dipped my gauze directly into the bottle, to give the baby "untainted" wine  

After that day, it occurred to me that while the baby is highly unlikely to catch anything from the wine, especially if the drinker merely takes a sip (which is usually the case) and particularly if he does not backwash, but still... If we are trying to keep the baby safe, shouldn't the baby have a cup of wine designated for him, which is not touched by anyone?

Now, there are some rabbis who specifically do not drink from the cup.  While they say the blessings, some wine typically drips on their fingers, and they taste the wine on their fingers, leaving the cup alone.  In those cases, the cup and wine in it remains untainted, and the wine in the cup is as "safe" as the wine in the bottle. But in most cases the one reciting the blessing sips from the cup. Wouldn't it be better for baby if there were a cup of wine dedicated for his use only, so he need not share a cup with an adult who may possibly have some virus in his mouth that could possibly be transferred...?

May be extreme, but seems logical to me... especially in light of the second source quoted here!

Sunday, September 1, 2013

3 Day Yom Tov Mohel Blues

This year, Rosh Hashana falls on Thursday and Friday, leading into Saturday, which creates what is called in observant circles a "Three Day Yom Tov."

It also means that anyone who gave birth naturally this past Thursday, Friday, or Saturday, who is looking for a bris to take place on time will need to get a mohel who either lives within walking distance, or who is willing to come for the 3-day period - because an observant mohel is not driving over these three days.

Of course this is not normally a concern. A mohel with a car comes and goes at his schedule during the week. And even a typical Shabbos-bris is only 1 day. But here we are talking about 3 days - 72 hours!

While in a Metropolitan area a walking-distance mohel should be fairly easy to find, in some places, this is not the case.

And finding someone willing to come for the 3-day yom tov is extremely hard. Any mohel with younger children living at home will most likely not be able to come.  And anyone with significant holiday plans will most likely not be able to make it either. In my case, I serve as a rabbi in a synagogue on Rosh Hashana and am therefore unavailable.

Who might come? A single (unmarried) mohel. Or an empty-nest mohel. The latter case may come with or without his wife.

In either case, aside from needing to arrange a place for the mohel to stay, and a seat in shul (though I am sure most shuls would be accommodating), it needs to be understood that the mohel is giving up his yom tov, in whatever way it was planned, for YOU the parents.

Now, some mohels might say, "I am not available. If you can't find anyone, I will do it Sunday." It is OK for the mohel to do this.

But the parents have a responsibility to have the bris take place on the 8th day of the baby's life. Which is probably why I got a call today from Michigan, and I was contacted a month ago by someone from Tampa who was concerned about a possible Rosh Hashana bris (and wouldn't you know it, she confirmed for me today that her fears turned out true!), and I heard from someone in Maryland about another RH bris. And I am sure there will be many brisses around the world over the 3 day yom tov.

Hopefully the parents and the mohel can come to an agreement. The mohel should come "b'simcha," and the parents should be sensitive and offer a generous compensation for the mohel putting himself out in a significant way.

Mazal Tov to all!