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Tuesday, June 16, 2015

The Shabbos Bris

I had a bris on Shabbos this past weekend. Shabbos brisses are not as common as other days of the week (though statistically, babies should be born more or less equally on every day of the week). Of course, a baby born on Saturday via c-section will not be having his bris on Shabbos anyway. 

What is Allowed for a Shabbos Bris?

The Mishnah on Shabbat 133a says the following:
משנה. עושין כל צרכי מילה [בשבת]; מוהלין ופורעין ומוצצין, ונותנין עליה איספלנית וכמון. אם לא שחק מערב שבת - לועס בשיניו ונותן, אם לא טרף יין ושמן מערב שבת - ינתן זה בעצמו וזה בעצמו. ואין עושין לה חלוק לכתחילה, אבל כורך עליה סמרטוט. אם לא התקין מערב שבת - כורך על אצבעו ומביא, ואפילו מחצר אחרת.
We perform all the needs of circumcision on Shabbos. We circumcise, uncover the corona, and draw out the blood; then place a compress and cumin on it. If he did not crush the cumin before Shabbos, he chews it with his teeth then applies it. If he did not mix together the wine and oil on Friday, he applies each one separately. We may not prepare a new bandage, but a rag can be wrapped around it. If it wasn't brought to the place of the Bris in advance of Shabbos, he can wind it around his finger and bring it [to the bris] - even from a different courtyard.
The key phrase is the first one: we do everything that is necessary for the bris itself, meaning the moment of the actual circumcision. Many things that are done during a circumcision are otherwise a violation of Shabbos: the instruments are muktzeh, causing a wound, marking where the foreskin is, etc/

What is Different At a Shabbos Bris?

The main difference is in the immediate aftermath of the circumcision. If the mohel notices that there are tzitzin she'einan m'akvin - portions of the skin or membrane that might be a little asthetically unpleasing but are not on the glans - they may not be removed/cleaned up on shabbos. If, however, these leftovers would render the bris unkosher, then they could be removed on Shabbos, in the immediate aftermath of the bris. 

Anything Else?

Once the circumcision instruments are used and no longer needed, they become muktzeh. If the mohel can leave his things in a safe place where they won't get misplaced or accidentally taken, he should do that, rather than take them home with him. 

Finally - an older mohel told me this one long ago - if the mohel is inconvenienced in any significant way, on account of his having to leave his family for shabbos for example, it is certainly appropriate for the bris family to make arrangements for where he'll stay (if he can't on his own), and compensate him for his travel, bris services, and time away.

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