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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 ...

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Baby Feeling Pain - Myths and Facts

I just came across this article on, and thought I'd give a slightly different perspective on the question of whether the baby feels pain at the bris. The main reason for sharing the following perspective is because I prefer to be a realist and share truth, rather than paint a rosy picture, blaming realities on straw-men, and ignoring the facts-of-life.

I do agree with the article in that we've been doing this for a very long time, and when done right, most babies are fine shortly after the procedure is over. And certainly have no memory of it.

I've written about this subject before - you can search "pain" in my website (this link will do it for you if you're not on a computer or laptop) and you'll get my thoughts on this more spelled out.

But here is the brief version.

Anything out of the baby's comfort zone causes a baby to cry. This may include: wearing a diaper, not wearing a diaper, being hungry, being handled for a diaper change, having legs pushed out of fetal position, any kind of pain.

Babies nerve endings aren't developed so they don't feel pain.

Babies feel pain. However, they don't have a very long-term memory. When pain sensation ends, and especially if amicably distracted (otherwise comfortable, eating, etc), crying can stop.

Babies are at their prime for clotting on day 8, so the 8th day is the best day to have a bris.

The 8th day is the best day for a bris because God said so. Clotting factor is irrelevant to pain.

A bris is really pain-free because it is a mitzvah.

A bris is often less painful than a hospital circumcision because the hospital variety utilizes clamps that crush the skin and destroy tissue (from the clamping). Some mohels use a clamp too, so let the customer beware (fwiw, I don't use a clamp). The baby cries when being handled, so the longer he is exposed, subject to metal surgical instruments, and with his legs restrained from being in the fetal position, the more he will cry. Saying he doesn't feel the circumcision in a bris ceremony is a lie.

While I'll leave the debate of numbing for a different discussion (search for numbing is here), I think the main points to consider are DEGREE of pain-inducing contact, and the amount of TIME during which baby is subject to the same.

A mohel should not use a clamp, and should work neatly, efficiently, and should be done - start (separating membrane) to finish (bandaging) in 30 seconds. Less contact → less discomfort → less crying baby → happier everyone.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Maybe My Kvatter "Rules" Are Wrong!

I find this depiction of a bris, in particular the description of who served as Kvatter, to be fascinating. And who was the baby? At the time he was the son of a prominent rabbi in Piotrkow. Now that baby is a former Chief Rabbi of Israel. Rabbi Israel Meir Lau.

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Rabbi Lau
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Naftali Lavie and Rabbi Lau shortly after liberation
The bris story was recorded by Naftali Lau-Lavie in his book, "Balaam's Prophesy"Image result for naphtali lavie

A Bris Milah Roundup

As most of what I've ever wanted to say about Bris Milah has already been recorded in this blog, the challenge is ever present to say something new, to couch something a new way, or to come up with new material that has not yet been addressed. As it happens, there are many sefarim (Hebrew books) written on the subject, so if I would either like to get esoteric, or start discussing out of the ordinary circumstances (such as what happens if the bris is on a pushed off fast day and the baby's father dies before the circumcision), those options are always available.

At the minimum I'm trying to blog once a month, so before May is lost, here goes.

I've gotten two more inquiries from physicians - I mentioned a previous one from two months ago here. And once again a physician (or two, or more?) wants to become a mohel and is having a hard time finding a mohel to train him.

One needs to be consistently busy to train others, and as I'm finding out, babies tend to come in spurts and seasons. I have about 12 babies lined up for brisses at the end of June through early August - and that's just the people who call well in advance! (And some of them may turn out to be girls, which will obviously lower the numbers)

In the news: Europe is going crazy again, couching their anti-Semitism in the guise of liberalism. Save the babies! Save the animals! From those nasty Jews!  (the title is mine, but that is the truth behind this latest assault)

I spoke to a father this week who had two very preemie twin boys. They will need a lot of time before they are ready for a bris. And as I write this I am waiting in an airport for my delayed flight to take me to a bris for another set of twins - though only the brother half will be having his bris.

Life goes on. Babies are born every day, and this blog continues to service people around the globe. Not sure why, but for the first time I know of, the hits from Israel outshine from even the USA - 3929 website visits from Israel in this week alone, compared to a meager 411 in the USA.

Germany, Brazil, UK and Netherlands are the next top visitors. I hope they're mostly Jews looking for information, rather than anti-Semites looking for fodder to fuel their anti-Semitism (see mention of Europe above).

That about does it! Looking forward to the summer and the many anticipated (and unknown to me) births which are coming. May the babies all be healthy, and may the boys have their brisses at the right time.