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Welcome to Mohel in South Florida

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 ...

Sunday, December 24, 2023

Letters to Family

 Here is a compilation of the letters I've written for specific circumstances and for specific people who either need a little assistance or a gentle reminder of what we are doing when it comes to preparing for a bris.

First, there's the note for the husband who might be a little overwhelmed with what's been going on. Yes, you are the baby's dad, but you are also a husband to a special lady. Remember that!

Then there's the note for the mom, who may be having a tough time post the arrival of baby. Especially with the thought of the bris. This one's for you!

Some grandparents totally "get" their role and know how to put everyone at ease and to make everyone comfortable. Some grandparents need this reminder, which includes the disclaimer that if you are the grandparent described in the previous sentence, you can skip it.

Here are instructions for the  dad  - not as much a letter as much as some final thoughts before the bris.

And for the unique circumstance where there is no bris, there is a suggested way to let family know there can be a celebration without a bris, because the bris will have to be taken care of in a different way at the right time. You can see all of that here

Tuesday, December 19, 2023

Mohel In South Florida is Still Here!

Life sometimes gets in the way of posting things here. 

As some people expect to see new content to know that this page and service is still being provided in South Florida (and beyond!) here is an update for all well-wishers and new parents, from the end of December 2023.

The last few brisses I have presided over, essentially since after October 7, have all included homage to Israel. The Jewish community - no matter level of observance or affiliation - is feeling the pain of what our brothers and sisters in Israel are going through. 

Whether it is an additional prayer, or perhaps a child being named for a soldier who fell in battle, or for some other victim who left no child and no legacy, people are finding creative and meaningful ways to fulfill the verse of אם אשכחך ירושלים, if I forget thee O Jerusalem...

So many people are connected within 1 to 2 degrees of separation either to victims of 10/7 or to soldiers who are on the front lines.

Through it all, babies are still being born, Baruch Hashem, and the boys need their Bris Milah.

This mohel is still providing bris services, and I look forward to doing so, with God's help, for many more years. Go here to the welcome page.

As to how much I'll be blogging... that we shall see.

Sunday, July 30, 2023

Summer Time - Again! Making rounds...

It's summer time in Florida and I am happy to report that babies are being born!

It is always a little busier here at mohelinsouthflorida.com during the summer. During this summer I've been to local places, such as Boca Raton and Hollywood, and I've also been to Jupiter, Melbourne, and heading this week to Ocala!

At a bris this morning, one set of guests was a family for whom I did their son's bris several months ago. His parents told me they were so pleased with their experience, especially since through their various moves, I was the third mohel they had hired - this had been their third son - so through benefit of comparison they appreciated our time together the most.

While the confidence boost is most appreciated, it is a testament to the effort I make to help people be comfortable with the whole experience, and hopefully make it positively memorable despite the inevitable difficult day it is for the baby (I shouldn't say "day." It's really a small window of time within one day. Babies move on very quickly from the experience!)

Looking forward to continuing to service your family's bris needs, with God's help, for many years!

Monday, June 12, 2023

Thanks for Bris Milah (8 of 8)

I wrote an article for this book about Bris Milah, on the subject of 8 reasons for our having gratitude for this Mitzvah. This is the eighth and last part of this series of sharing this article here.


This leads to our final reason for giving thanks for the Bris: R Luria adds that when a person leaves prison he must give thanks. After emerging from the womb, a form of solitary confinement, thanks must be recited. As we wait until the bris to celebrate the baby’s arrival, the bris is the proper time to say “Hodu” in the presence of the community and its elders. This reason is a little circular, as we are only expressing thanks after emerging from the womb post the Milah, but since the Milah holds off our trigger for giving thanks, the thanks is still partly due to the Milah. 

 How appropriate it is that we have eight reasons for being thankful for the fundamental Mitzvah of Bris Milah, the defining covenant of our relationship with the Almighty, both in the Bris Milah ceremony, and in that regular opportunity afforded to us through Birkas Hamazon.

Monday, May 29, 2023

Thanks for Bris Milah (7 of 8)

   I wrote an article for this book about Bris Milah, on the subject of 8 reasons for our having gratitude for this Mitzvah. This is the seventh part of this series of sharing this article here.


last time we concluded noting that "the act of circumcision also opens the heart to receive the Torah." 

But there is a contradiction, because other peoples who were of Avraham’s seed – the Bnei Eisav and the Bnei Yishmael – were also circumcised! If so, circumcision would open their hearts to receive the Torah as well! 

The answer is simple. Since both of those nations rejected the Torah, per the Midrash of their having been offered it but finding the rules against murder and thievery being unacceptable to them (Mechilta, Yisro, “D’bachodesh 5”; Sifrei V’zos Habrach 343, etc), their circumcision status was also diminished in that only the Milah of Bnei Yisrael fit into the category of being a “matanah tovah,” opening the door so that the gift of the Oral Torah is exclusively for Israel. [This is a topic R Luria goes into much greater length, beyond the scope of this essay.] 

Our thanks in Birkas Hamazon and in the recitation of Hodu at the bris is supported by the Talmud’s declaration (Megillah 16b) that when the Jewish people rejoiced with “Sasson” (joy) that Sasson = Milah!

Monday, May 15, 2023

Thanks For Bris Milah (6 of 8)

  I wrote an article for this book about Bris Milah, on the subject of 8 reasons for our having gratitude for this Mitzvah. This is the sixth part of this series of sharing this article here.


We saw in part 5 that the circumcision is what makes us worthy of redemption and receiving the land of Israel

This is connected to a sixth reason to be grateful – for the act of circumcision is viewed by the Rabbis as a matanah tovah, a great gift from the Almighty, which by itself indicates a greater gratitude for the Covenant and the Circumcision than the simple fact of our having circumcised the flesh, because of what the great gift accompanies. 

Commenting on Rashi (Shemos 3:12) in which God told Moshe the people were worthy of being redeemed from Egypt because “I have a wonderful gift” for them – which Sifsei Chakhamim defines as being the Torah She’baal Peh, R’ Luria pins their worthiness to receive this gift on being circumcised, because the act of circumcision also opens the heart to receive the Torah.

Monday, May 1, 2023

Thanks For Bris Milah (5 of 8)

 I wrote an article for this book about Bris Milah, on the subject of 8 reasons for our having gratitude for this Mitzvah. This is the fifth part of this series of sharing this article here.

 A fifth reason to be thankful is for being His servants, as if branded like a slave for his master (Maharal Parshas Bo, Ch 12). Maharal reminds us that servitude only exists when there are people who serve. Pesach, which is only available as an “Avodah” to males who are circumcised, is a singular form of “service.” But Pesach alone doesn’t a servitude make. Milah is the key which demonstrates our being servants of the Almighty. It is how we fulfill being His servants (per Vayikra 25:55), and not servants of servants (Kiddushin 22b), that makes us worthy of redemption and of receiving the land – two of the promises associated with this Covenant.

Monday, April 17, 2023

Thanks for Bris Milah (4 of 8)

 I wrote an article for this book about Bris Milah, on the subject of 8 reasons for our having gratitude for this Mitzvah. This is the fourth part of this series of sharing this article here.



A fourth reason to be grateful for circumcision is where Bris lies in the totem pole in comparison to the Torah itself. In order to fulfill our Birkas Hamazon obligation, we need to mention “Bris and Torah” in the bracha over the land (Brachos 49a). Rashi (Brachos 48b, see also Or Zarua I:199 (Laws of Meals), Levush OC 187:2) says that Bris Milah is mentioned specifically in that blessing because it was through that Covenant that Avraham was promised the land (see also Mishnah Brurah 187:7). 

 There are at least three explanations given for why bris is mentioned first: A. 13 covenants were made at the Bris Milah (see Nedarim 31b), while there were only 3 covenants made at the giving of the Torah (Brachos 48b, see also Rashi there). B. the Bris predated the giving of the Torah by several hundred years. (Levush) C. As noted in a number of Midrashim (see Midrash Aggada Bereshis 47:29, Rabati Lekh Lekha p. 75 17:19), Bris (spelled out in Hebrew) has a numerical value of 612 + the act itself equals 613, equating it with all of the Torah, which has 613 commandments.

Monday, April 3, 2023

Thanks for Bris Milah (3 of 8)

I wrote an article for this book about Bris Milah, on the subject of 8 reasons for our having gratitude for this Mitzvah. This is the third part of this series of sharing this article here.


A third reason to be grateful for Milah stems from Avraham Avinu waiting at the gates of Gehinnom to protect his circumcised descendants from being trapped there (Eruvin 19a). R Luria notes that Gehinnom has no dominion over Milah, as evidenced in the “Hotel incident” after the burning bush (Shemos 4:24-26), when Moshe Rabbenu was consumed by angels trying to kill him over delaying his son’s circumcision (Rashi 4:24, Nedarim 32a). Zipporah thought Moshe was to die for having violated the prohibition against having relations with an Aramis (herself) for which the punishment is death. However, when she realized that the angels left his Milah untouched, she realized the solution to the problem was to circumcise her son. In this light, our gratitude for Milah is to be protected from Gehinnom.

Monday, March 20, 2023

Thanks for Bris Milah (2 of 8)

I wrote an article for this book about Bris Milah, on the subject of 8 reasons for our having gratitude for this Mitzvah. This is the second part of this series of sharing this article here.

 See part 1 here

Another reason for gratitude is because Milah lifts us out of a status of being Arelim. Yirmiyahu referred to all gentiles as uncircumcised, ki khol hagoyim arelim (9:25). There, in being critical of Israel, Israelites are accused of being of uncircumcised heart: v’khol beis Yisrael Erlei Lev, their bad behavior causing them to be worthy of punishment (Radak). Thus the metaphorical (heart-)foreskin prevents us from getting close to God, when doing the wrong thing. Presumably when we do right, we can never be called or compared to “Arelim.”

Monday, March 6, 2023

Thanks for Bris Milah (1 of 8)

I wrote an article for this book about Bris Milah, on the subject of 8 reasons for our having gratitude for this Mitzvah. Over the next eight posts I will share the article in pieces.


“Thanks” For Circumcision? Let me count the ways

“[F]or Jews circumcision … is not a detail of hygiene, [but] the seal of the pledge between Abraham and his Creator… The Jews have followed the Mosaic law with a confidence which modern medicine progressively ratifies. The medical endorsement is not, however, the glory of Judaism. It is a footnote.” – Herman Wouk, “This is My God” 

The celebrated author’s insightful comment about circumcision speaks of the Covenant, but not of the painful experience the child (or the converting adult) undergoes in order to have that “seal of the pledge…” Interestingly, there are at least two expressions of thanks over the act of circumcising. One is the verse “Hodu LaHashem Ki Tov Ki L’Olam Chasdo” – Give thanks to God for He is good, for His kindness endures forever – included in the baby-naming-paragraph recited seconds after the Milah (circumcision). The second is on a more regular basis, in the “thanks” blessing of birkas hamazon, we mention “briskha she’chasamta bivsareinu,” the Covenant You sealed in our flesh. 

 While it is reasonable to give thanks for the Covenant, which defines our relationship with God, why note that it is “sealed in our flesh”? Are we thanking God for a painful experience? 

In a lengthy discussion addressing the thanks in Birkas Hamazon, R Yochanan Luria (Meshivas Nefesh, Shemot 3) notes Milah’s place in the Israelite experience, especially in contrast to other Bnei Avraham (Eisav and Yishmael) who did or currently circumcise, but don’t get the benefits of the Covenant. One can certainly be thankful for Milah that comes with Covenantal benefits, rather than the alternative which merely fulfills a family tradition without Covenantal benefits. In a lengthy discussion addressing the thanks in Birkas Hamazon, R Yochanan Luria (Meshivas Nefesh, Shemot 3) notes Milah’s place in the Israelite experience, especially in contrast to other Bnei Avraham (Eisav and Yishmael) who did or currently circumcise, but don’t get the benefits of the Covenant. One can certainly be thankful for Milah that comes with Covenantal benefits, rather than the alternative which merely fulfills a family tradition without Covenantal benefits.

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

A Thought on Blood of Circumcision as it connects to Parshat Bo

There are two positive mitzvos in the Torah that share certain qualities. Aside from being "Mitzvot Asei," both of them are the only mitzvos in the Torah for which if one does not fulfill them, the person’s soul is subject to kareis - a repercussion which has a number of possible definitions, but minimally could mean to be “cut off” from an eternal connection to God (whatever that might mean). Both of them have blood associated with the fulfillment of the mitzvah. Both of them require preparation in advance. One of them cannot be fulfilled without the other one having been fulfilled. (list is not exhaustive) 

 The two mitzvos? Bris Milah (circumcision) and Korban Pesach (the Paschal Lamb). It is noted that absent a Beis HaMikdash we don’t fulfill the Korban Pesach, so some of the connections are less relevant in our time. 

 Rashi (12:6) quotes verses from Yechezkel 16 which describe metaphorically God’s turning Jerusalem into a presentable city, including stating “And I passed by you and saw you downtrodden with your blood, and I said to you, 'With your bloods, live,' and I said to you, 'With your bloods, live.'” Many Midrashim say the plural form of ‘bloods’ indicates that blood of the Paschal lamb and circumcision blood were combined and placed on the doorposts in Egypt to serve as a double protection for the Hebrews during the final plague. 

 Rashi says the circumcisions in Egypt took place at night, seemingly contradicting the Midrash that the bloods were combined. The instruction for the slaughtering of the lamb and putting the blood on the doorpost is in 12:6-7, making clear that not much time passed between the two actions. People were indoors at night; circumcision blood could not be put on the doorpost! 

 The great irony of this is that the idea that an ערל, an uncircumcised male, can’t partake of the Korban Pesach, seems to be an afterthought first mentioned in 12:48, basically the last instruction given to Moshe to tell over to the Israelites. 

 Rabbenu Bachaye writes וזה יכלול שנמולו כלן ועשו את הפסח, which can certainly be understood to mean the two actions were done in that order: first Milah and then slaughtering the Pesach. Which could also lead us to suggest that, rather than an afterthought, the last thing Moshe heard – the instruction for Milah – was freshest in his mind, and therefore what he mentioned first to the Bnei Yisrael. 

 Rashi’s explanation leaves more questions than answers in light of the halakha based on the verse וביום השמיני ימול בשר ערלתו,  that a Bris must take place during daylight hours, from sunrise to sunset, even if done after the 8th day. (Pesachim 4a, Yoma 28b). Comes Rabbenu Bachaye with the save… what do you think?