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Monday, September 3, 2018

How to Explain the Bris to Younger Children

Of course children can attend a bris. While I don't recommend they watch the procedure, I am of the belief that if they are curious enough to ask what it's all about, then they deserve an answer that is age-appropriate. Depending on the age, while they certainly don't need to be told all the details of how a mohel operates, the Jewish perspective on why we do this is certainly an explanation they deserve to be told.

So, if the baby has a 3 to 6 year old sibling who is unaware of what happens at a bris, I feel it is the parents duty to
a. Prepare this child
b. If it's a girl, explain that she did not have this because we only do it with boys; if it is a boy, tell him he had one too, though he surely doesn't remember it.

The conversation might include questions from the child, but I think the following bullet points might be helpful in guiding the child appropriately:

  • Many things we do as Jewish people are done because Hashem (God) told us to
  • We love Hashem, and He loves us. He especially loves when we do mitzvot (fulfill commandments)
  • He gave a special mitzvah to Avraham (Abraham) which we call Brit Milah - it was an agreement of a connection between the Jewish people and Hashem forever.
  • To mark that connection, Hashem asked Jewish men and boys to cut off a small piece of skin from the penis (yes, you may use the word "penis")
  • Because Abba/Daddy is not trained to do this, we hire someone who is called "a mohel" (kind of like a doctor for this mitzvah) who will make the baby cry, but will also help the baby have his bris, and will make sure that the baby is fine afterwards. 
  • As you know from when you cut yourself, you bleed. When the baby has his bris, he also bleeds. The mohel takes care of that so the baby has his bris and is OK afterwards
  • (To a girl: It's only done with a boy, because only boys have that piece of skin)
  • Every baby who has this done cries a little today, but he'll be OK in a little while. The mohel is doing his job. 
  • Mommy and Daddy love the baby very much too and we know everything will be good very very soon!

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