Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Reciting "Shehechiyanu" At a Bris

Much of the following is from Rabbi Pirutinsky's discussion of the subject in Sefer HaBris, starting page 290. He quotes all the Rishonim and Acharonim. I am making it simple through just giving the opinions. 

One of the more impactful blessings we have in our liturgy is the "Shehechiyanu"

ברוך אתה ה' א-לקינו מלך העולם שהחיינו וקימנו והגיענו לזמן הזה
Blessed are you Hashem, our God, King of the universe, Who has had us live, and survive, and brought us to this time.

We say this blessing on holidays and other special occasions, mostly when a special event has not happened for over 30 days. (There is an entire Siman in the Shulchan Arukh - Orach Chaim 225 - dedicated to this blessing!)

Do we say it at a bris?

There are three answers to this question:
1. Yes
2. No
3. It depends

YES
Those who say it are usually Sefardim or of Middle Eastern descent. It is the custom in Israel to say it, even among Ashkenazi Jews. I have seen some Ashkenazic Jews from Israel say it at their son's bris in the United States. The thought process is simple. How often do you have a son? How often do you  have a bris? Say Shehechiyanu!

NO
The reasons to not say it are a little more formal thinking.
1. The child experiences pain at the bris (צערא דינוקא), so it is not a nice time to say Shehechiyanu.
2. Unlike a Pidyon Haben, which takes place after the child's 30th day, in most cases (barring extreme medically required delays) the bris takes place while the baby is under 30 days old. In Halakhic terms, the child is still in the realm of what's called a חשש נפל. While (THANK GOD) most babies survive to 30 days, halakha assigns a status of נפל to a child under 30 days "just in case" the worst happens. Because of that concern, there is hesitation to allow the recitation of Shehechiyanu on the bris.

IT DEPENDS
A special circumstance to allow for Shehechiyanu would be if the father himself is doing the circumcision. Since in most cases the mohel is performing the mitzvah on the father's behalf, and since for the mohel it's a regular occurence, the mohel would not be saying Shehechiyanu. And since the father isn't actually doing the milah he can't say it either!
But if the father is either a mohel himself, or the mohel sets it up for the father to do, then there are opinions which support the father's saying Shehechiyanu in this circumstance.

Friday, May 10, 2019

Who Cries At A Bris? It Depends...

The baby’s mother told me today:

I’ve always cried at a Bris. Both because of the emotion of being part of the Jewish people, and for the mom who can’t console her baby during the Bris.
But TODAY I didn’t cry. Even though it was MY baby. Because all the information you sent me, all the things you gave me to read, helped me understand what is going on, and helped me know my baby is in the right hands.

(Now *I* am crying. 😅)

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Why do I love being a mohel? Read THIS

Let me count the ways.

While I've answered this question in the past, I am now going to elaborate on reason #2

It is because of stories like what I heard at today's bris.

The parents of the baby are not American-born. Spanish? Russian? I got a mix of different cultures - all of which led me to give a different kind of speech than the one I usually give while explaining the ceremony... about Jewish strength and survival, and doing what we do because we are proud to be Jews... and about the strength God should give parents who are given the enormous task of raising a baby.

As I was about to leave - bris was great, baby resting peacefully - the baby's grandmother walks into the room where her daughter is holding the baby, and she essentially tells me that she's riding on top of the world.

I asked her why? This is her daughter's first child, but she seems even more elated than other parents of first-time parents.

So she tells me her story.

"Five years ago, my daughter had an autoimmune reaction. She was dead on a ventilator. DEAD."

I did not ask for details. A coma? Dead? I don't know what that means.

"She had just gotten engaged. We told her fiance, 'You don't need to wait for her. You are free to go and move on.' And he said, 'Where am I going to go?'"

You guessed it. Her husband is the fiance who stuck with her - through her 3 months bout with death.

"She lost two babies" (This baby was her 3rd pregnancy)

"And now she has a healthy child. This baby is a miracle like you have no idea. My daughter is a living miracle."

And I. Had the PRIVILEGE. To be brought. Into the inner circle. Of this family. And this story.

And I had no idea. Until it (the bris) was all over.

Before leaving I sought out the daddy. I gave him a huge hug (which I never do). And I told him, "Your mother in law just told me your wife's story. You are an incredible man. God bless you. God bless your wife, your baby, your family."

(Crying as I write this. So honored to play the role I played. And Baruch She'kivanti)

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Common Questions to uncommon situations

Some of the more common questions that come up have been addressed before. I'm providing some old links to help you navigate these issues.

What happens when the baby is jaundiced/yellow?
http://www.mohelinsouthflorida.com/2011/12/jaundice-when-baby-is-yellow.html

What happens if the baby has a weird foreskin or no foreskin?
http://www.mohelinsouthflorida.com/2015/06/when-there-is-no-bris.html

What kinds of problems should I anticipate after the bris?
http://www.mohelinsouthflorida.com/2012/09/chubby-baby-syndrome.html
http://www.mohelinsouthflorida.com/2018/01/the-scare-tactic-long-term-reminder.html (there are a few links here as well)

Do you have any really bad stories that you care to share?
http://www.mohelinsouthflorida.com/2018/08/track-record.html
http://www.mohelinsouthflorida.com/2018/01/table-of-contents-problems.html (see the bottom link "Vindicated" on this page)

How do I get over the nervousness I feel at the prospect of the bris?
Knowledge is power - http://www.mohelinsouthflorida.com/p/welcome.html