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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 ...

Friday, December 26, 2014

Another Metzitzah Tale Gone Bad

NOT BY ME, of course. This is out of New York. My method is completely safe, as there is no contact or transfer of fluid from mohel to baby (or vice versa).

See here:

This story has a happier ending, as it seems the baby has been treated and will be OK.

But the beginning of the story is not so happy, because this baby should have never needed this kind of treatment.

A bris done under sterile conditions - with metzitzah being accomplished via sterile tube - does not produce an infection.

Properly sterilized instruments, sterile gloves, a sterile metzitzah tube, sterile bandages + the correct amount of skin being removed = job well done, quick healing time, healthy baby.

End of story.

Mouth on baby and whatever other ingredient which removes another step of sterility = good chance of infection.

I am not ashamed to be a mohel. But I am ashamed to share in a profession in which practices that can lead to this result (herpes infection on a newborn) are maintained by fellow practitioners, and desired by an ignorant herd who do not think for themselves and demand otherwise from their mohels.

Many non-observant Jews ask me "What is your policy on metzitzah?" (here it is)


We need to put these guys out of business, or force them to change their ways.

No baby need ever be put at risk, even the slightest risk, beyond the risk of the circumcision itself, which is commanded to us in our Torah. But metzitzah is not a commandment. And this method should be banned by rabbis, community leaders, parents, and mohels. NO MORE EXCUSES.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

When Bris is on a Fast Day (Tosafos insights)

In a much larger Talmudic discussion (Eruvin 40b) that involves the question of whether one must eat/drink after saying a blessing (instead of having someone else, such as a child drink), as well as the propriety of giving alcohol to children, Tosafos record two stories, which are instructive as to how people conduct themselves with reference to eating and drinking on a fast day.

I share because when there is a bris on a fast day (10th of Tevet, referenced below, is coming up), this information is instructive.

תוספות מסכת עירובין דף מ עמוד ב 
ומעשה היה בחופה בעשרה בטבת נתנו הכוס לתינוק לשתות [ומעשה היה בברית מילה ברבינו יעקב בר יקר שחל עשרה באב בא' בשבת והוא היה אב"ד וצוה להתפלל מנחה גדולה ורחצו ואכלו מפני שי"ט שלהן היה כדכתיב שש אנכי כו' והאי דלא מברכינן שהחיינו משום צערא דינוקא תוס' שאנ"ץ].

"It happened that there was a wedding on the 10th of Tevet (a fast day), and they gave the cup (of wine) to a child to drink (the word "Tinok" means baby - but sometimes refers to a child)."
"It happened that there was a bris with Rabbi Yaakov bar Yakar which fell on the 10th of Av which fell on Sunday (meaning it was the day they were observing the 9th of Av fast, pushed to Sunday). He was the Head of the Rabbinic Court. He instructed everyone to pray the early Mincha, and then to wash and eat, for it was a Yom Tov for them, as it says, 'I rejoice at the fulfillment of Your word...'
And the reason we do not say "Shehechiyanu" at a bris is because of the pain the child experiences."
When we say a blessing over wine on a fast day, we have the custom to give the wine to the child - which at a bris is the baby. This may or may not be the source for our giving wine to the baby at every bris anyway.

But the points we take from these tales for bris practices on fast days are the following:
1. The easiest person to give to drink on a fast day is the baby
2. A fast day which is pushed off, even a fast day as important as 9 Av, is a day when participants at the bris may eat. While this is not a common practice, it is mostly due to lack of awareness of the rules.
3. A baby does feel pain at a bris. This is not something we celebrate through the recitation of Shehechiyanu. [This is a confirmation that this mitzvah is one of the rare mitzvos in the Torah that has pain associated with it (the other being fasting on Yom Kippur). This is why numbing the baby is advocated, while some argue that the speed in which we operate serves as its own numbing.]

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

News Monitor: the circumcision debate

This debate has been ongoing for many decades, with medical views going back and forth on the subject of "to circ or not to circ." This is the latest installment (text embedded below).

As always, this is irrelevant to the Jewish people on account of it merely being a footnote to why we do what we do.

But the STD concern is real.

See also this article and newsreel from

Monday, December 1, 2014

Yer Lookin Quite Good Yerself

Because we live in an increasingly depressing world, there are things that I must do and that I cannot do in order to maintain that my interest in this field (bris milah) is solely for the mitzvah - helping parents fulfill their biblically mandated requirement to have their sons circumcised to bear the mark of the Covenant.

This is why, as much as I want to share before and after photos so parents can know what to expect, I am resigned to explain it in words, leaving photos out.

This is why my care for most children ends one or two days after the bris, when things are healing nicely and I know that as long as post bris care follows my instructions, everything will be fine.

I have a colleague who likes to offer the change the baby's diaper if he bumps into the parents weeks down the road - it's his way of checking his handiwork to assure that all is healing as it should.

I am not so bold, and I don't ask parents for such opportunities. However, every now and then a parent will have a question or wants me to assure that all is good (especially if we left things as "let's keep in touch to see how things heal") and I get a chance to see how things have healed.  This happened twice this week, and I am happy to report wonderful healing processes.

It is always flattering to see such beautiful results from one's handiwork.  I hope they all turn out this way.

God bless!