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Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Dear Husband

I have written several notes to the father about what is expected of him before and during the bris.
Here is one about the things the father needs to do, and one about whether/when/if the father opts to make the incision himself. Now I venture out of mohel role for a moment, as I talk to you as a friend and a father, who was a husband before being a father, and more than likely before becoming your friend.

Part II - a note to grandparents (please share with parents or in-laws, but only if it will be helpful to your situation

Dear Husband,
Congratulations on the birth of your new son! I am sure this is a moment you have been waiting for - for a long time. You have a boy, a son who will carry your name, to whom you can teach everything you want, from sports, to interests, to Torah, to the great upbringing you will undoubtedly provide for him.

But this is not a letter to you, the father. This is a letter to you, the husband.

Look at the woman who just gave birth to this child. Remember that for nine months she endured a pregnancy and all that goes with it. Whether she loved her pregnancy or hated it, whether she had cravings or did not, whether she was more beautiful than ever or pregnancy did things to her (ie morning sickness, bloating, etc) you could have never imagined, whether she got pregnant easily or it was an ordeal (which you both went through), remember that she went through all of this for YOU.

You have a mitzvah to have a child. She does not. She may WANT to have a child, but it is her choice. She becomes the vessel through which you fulfill your obligation to "be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth."

Conception takes a second. Pregnancy is a long ordeal. Your job is simple. Hers is much harder.

And remember who will more likely experience more sleepless nights (especially if she is nursing)? Who is likely to be more involved in the raising of your son?

Please don't think I am accusing any father of shirking his responsibilities as a father. 

But don't forget your responsibility as a husband. Appreciate your wife, the mother of your child. Love her. Cherish her. Honor her. Respect her. Be patient with her.

Birth is a stressful time. The bris could be a very stressful time. It requires a different kind of resilience to make it through this time period with no regrets.

I am so happy to report that I have seen incredible acts of kindness and chesed and concern and care displayed between husband and wife and vice versa in the days when I am present in the home, shortly after the birth (before bris), at the bris, and certainly after the bris.

At the same time (and this is why I write to you, husband of Amazing Woman), I have seen too many people get into regrettable arguments (in my presence!) over what are usually (in my opinion) the silliest of things - about the honors for the bris, who will be involved, etc; about who will change the diaper, who will get the diapers or the wipes, whose turn it is, etc; over who contributes more to this marriage...

Aaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhh! And I'll add an "oy vey" for good measure! Even if you need to have the fights, please PLEASE have them AFTER I leave. 

But I wonder if it is even necessary, dear husband. Because you should be looking for EVERY opportunity to give your wife a break, to not have to make her climb stairs, to not have her run around looking for things, to not have to change every diaper. And if she is forgetful or if she gets impatient, or if things don't go exactly your way, let it go. The only pass I'll give you is if the baby is exclusively nursing (a move I applaud and encourage, for the baby's sake - as long as Mommy can handle it), you don't have to feed him.

Remember why you got into this in the first place - marriage, baby, the whole megillah. The baby should enhance your love, admiration, respect for and appreciation of one another. He should not bring about unnecessary stress and tension between you.

As to how you deal with your in-laws? For that you're on your own. :)

I care about your dear and precious wife who has done more for you in the last week months of your lives than you could ever do for her. God bless her. And you should too.

All the best
Avi Billet

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