Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Mother v Father : Wife v Husband

It does not happen often, but every now and then the parents of the baby have very different ideas as to what they want their baby's circumcision to look like. And no, I am not talking about the actual aesthetics of how things will turn out and look post-op.

I'm referring to the setting of the bris. Without getting into specifics of what men v women want (because there is honestly no set rule here), let's just give a few examples where different visions can reach very different conclusions.

One wants to make a big party and invite lots of people
One wants to keep things modest. Very modest.

One wants to bring special attention to the mitzvah at hand
One couldn't care less about the mitzvah

One believes circumcision is the right thing to do for religious reasons
One believes circumcision is an important medical procedure

One wants the bris milah
One is very hesitant about the bris altogether

One thinks the only way to do this is through hiring a mohel
One thinks the only way to do this is through hiring a doctor

One thinks we should involve many people in the ceremony
One thinks the mohel is more than enough, thank you very much, and the baby does not to be exposed to every germ under the sun

One thinks the boy should be named after Derek Jeter
One thinks the boy should be named after Great Tante Shprintze
(OK - this last one is a joke)

You see where this can go wrong!

So the first thing I would encourage is "Talk beforehand. WAAAAAAAY beforehand!"
Next: Come up with lists of your desires. See where you are on the same page, and see where you differ. Then have mature conversations about the differences, and compromise as much as possible, while giving in when it's more of a question of "what is more meaningful to you."
These questions may be a good guide for the things you need to learn http://www.mohelinsouthflorida.com/2009/09/good-questions-to-ask-any-mohel.html

Here is an example that comes up for conversation more often than you'd think, though the conclusion is usually the same:

The father (thinks he) wants to do the incision.
The mother (thinks he should have his head examined and) disagrees

As I've noted here - http://www.mohelinsouthflorida.com/2012/10/should-father-do-circumcision.html - it's not a big deal for the father to do it. It's easily set up so that his doing the incision is no different than if I do it. He will fulfill his mitzvah in a greater way. And it may help him feel more involved. 
On the one hand, if he (or his wife) is not comfortable with it, then I advise against it.
On the other hand, I've had many moms/wives say to the husband, "If the rabbi says it's OK, it's fine with me. It's your mitzvah. I don't want to get in your way." And indeed that attitude has prevailed a number of times. It's also testament to a very good and healthy relationship.

The bottom line is this: knowledge is power. The more both of you know, the more both of you can talk through what your visions are for the bris of your dreams - public, private, fancy food, limited food, mohel (my preference!), doctor, the right name for baby, etc.

And, as always, if I can help you through the journey (or navigating this conversation), be in touch! I am happy to help!  http://www.mohelinsouthflorida.com/p/contact.html

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Bris on Tisha B'Av

In the event your baby's bris will be taking place on Tisha B'Av (timely, because that will be observed this coming Sunday), here are a few things to bear in mind.

1. The bris takes place after Kinot, because we can't mix "Simcha" (of the bris) with the sadness of the Kinot. As far as when exactly we do the bris there are three views

  1. After Shacharit, but before Chatzot (midday)
  2. After Chatzot
  3. After Mincha
Ashkenazim typically follow the first view, while Sefardim typically follow the second view. 
Like every other day of the calendar, the main rule is that the bris take place while the sun is out. Those who would like to serve a break the fast meal as a "Seudat Mitzvah" might prefer to have the bris as close to sunset as possible. 

2. The father, mohel and sandak may wear Shabbos clothes in honor of the special day (typically, Tisha B'Av clothes are less fancy than Shabbos clothes). There are differences of opinion as to their allowance to wear leather shoes. However, once the bris is over, they should change back to regular Tisha B'Av garb.

3.The blessing is made over wine, but the wine is given either to children to drink, to the baby to drink, or to the baby's mother, in the event that she is not fasting.  She should be sure to hear the bracha, have in mind to fulfill the bracha for herself with the recitation at the bris, and she should not talk between hearing the bracha and drinking the wine. (This applies if the bris is on time, or taking place while the baby is under 30 days old. If the bris has been significantly delayed, she should also be fasting).

4. For those who bring besamim to a bris (a Sefardic and Middle Eastern tradition), there is a debate as to whether they should be brought to a Tisha B'Av bris, some feeling we avoid making a blessing on spices on Tisha B'Av, with others thinking, "Yes, but it's a brit!!"

5. While we don't cut fingernails on Tisha B'Av, a mohel may cut his fingernails if they are needed for pri'ah. 

6. There are different customs surrounding wearing a tallis at a bris. Those who wear a tallis do not wear it on Tisha B'Av in the morning. As such, there are different views as to whether the "no tallis in the morning" rule also applies to a bris taking place in the morning. 

7. While under typical circumstances we do not allow the eating of meat on the evening that follows Tisha B'Av, but since meat is allowed to be eaten during the Nine Days for a bris, meat can also be eaten at the end of Tisha B'Av, if it is for the meal that is the Seudas Mitzvah of the Tisha B'Av bris. 

8. When Tisha B'Av falls on Saturday and is observed on Sunday there is a debate as to whether the father, mohel and sandak may eat. If they may, it is only after Mincha. All eating on a Sunday Tisha B'Av must be preceded by havdalah. 

9. If the bris has been pushed off, and today is not the 8th day, the father, mohel and sandak must fast. 

10. There is a custom to give the baby whose bris is on Tisha B'Av either the name Menachem or Nechemiah (there is also a custom to give a girl born on Tisha B'Av the name Bat Zion.)

(Source, Otzar HaBris  Volume I, pages 293-297)