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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

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 - - 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!

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