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Welcome to mohelinsouthflorida.com -  the most comprehensive and up to date mohel blog on the internet . My name is Avi Billet, and I am so ...

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Defining Terms - Bris Milah

One of the key features of the service I provide is the "Service" itself, also known as the ceremony. 

While there isn't a canned speech, or a re-used script, simply because the ceremony is straightforward, it often enough comes out rather similar from family to family.

However, as every family is different, and as family dynamics are often different, the challenge is to find the balance that works for the particular blend of people gathered for each celebration.

We begin with a definition of terms. In this case BRIS MILAH.

People may find themselves saying "I am going to a bris" or "I went to a bris."

The truth is that you can't GO to a BRIS. A "Bris" (ברית) is a Covenant, which in this case refers specifically to the Covenant described in Genesis (בראשית) chapter 17 between God and Abraham

MILAH (מילה) means circumcision. This is why my job is a Mohel (מוהל), circumciser, and why someone who is circumcised is described as being Mahul (מהול), and why the verb is Mal (מל) or LaMul (למול).

BRIS MILAH therefore means "The Covenant of Circumcision," which refers to the second covenant God made with Abraham, in which God made a number of promises to Abraham and his descendants, and asked that the males of Abraham's family and household bear the mark of the covenant through circumcision. 

So, next time you find yourself at this kind of event, remember to throw in the word "ceremony." "I am going to a bris ceremony" (If you want to be specific about which covenant, because there are others, you should say a "bris milah ceremony") or "I attended a bris ceremony today."

Technically you were present at a Milah (circumcision), because that in fact took place. The Covenant has been around a long time, it is not being renewed at each ceremony. What we are doing is affirming our place in the covenant, and continuing the thousands-of-years tradition of bearing the mark of the Covenant in the flesh of our males. 

Sunday, December 27, 2020

Once Upon A Time...

 Last week I had a unique experience. 

I got a call on Sunday for a Thursday Bris. And I got a call on Monday for a Friday Bris. The truth is that those kinds of calls are a little late. Most people call closer to baby’s birth to confirm availability, but thankfully these days people are VERY flexible with the Bris timing, so I’m usually able to accommodate everyone anyway. 

Both families are relatively recent transplants to Florida from NY, and the dad for the Thursday Bris had been in touch months ago when most of the recommendations he had received sent him here. 

So we booked, and all was good. 

Then on Monday I got a different phone call, from someone who had gotten my name through very different channels, but also mentioned to me “Everyone we know has used your services.” 

Then he told me, “My wife’s sister gave birth the night before her, so we’re actually going to a Bris the day before our son’s Bris. Actually, I’m not sure if my brother in law and sister in law know who to call, as they moved to Florida more recently. I’ll let them know about you. If you hear from ____, that’s them.”

I smiled. “Actually, they’re the Thursday Bris I’m doing. So I guess I’ll be seeing you two days in a row!”

One set of grandparents had two new grandsons born to their daughters 24 hours apart. 

Independent of each other’s plans, both cousins had the same Mohel.  

Pretty cool! 

Monday, December 7, 2020

Light in the Darkness

 Our world has been turned upside down in many ways. We all long for a return to normalcy, to a world without masks, and the ability to see smiles. 

In all this, one thing has remained a constant - children are being born. 

Up until now, the children that have entered the world were mostly conceived before any lockdowns. Any children born in the coming weeks and months will have been conceived after lockdowns - which means that while no one could predict the future or what the future would look like (i.e. 2 weeks which have become 9 months), the human spirit has indicated that we are not stopping to live life and to bring new life into the world. 

With Chanukah beginning this week, the concept of the Menorah illuminating the darkness is a fitting symbol of the soul of the Jewish people as a collective. We are here. We are participating in life affirmation. We will see through this time to a better tomorrow. And we will continue to affirm our commitment to God through practicing one of the rituals the villains of the Chanukah story tried to take away from us - our Covenant with God, which has carried us through the millennia to where we are today. (Which is where my job comes into the picture). It is a blessing to see the smiles and to join in the celebration - as the mohel - when the baby is a boy and he is having his bris.

We are a people who survive all obstacles - whether human borne or nature borne. We live to make a Kiddush Hashem, to sanctify God's name in this world. We carry the torch that is the shining light of our Torah and our ancient traditions. 

We don't extinguish the light - we contribute the light.

Blessings to all for a happy Chanukah. And blessings to those who will be bringing life into this dark world. May these precious Jewish neshamas be a light of joy in your household, and may they be the symbol of hope for ourselves and our people in the hopefully numbered days of difficulty that still lie ahead of us.