Circumcision and Your Child’s Health

Question: I am concerned about the safety issues in circumcision. Isn’t it safer to have it done by a doctor in the hospital?

Every Orthodox mohel (Rabbi who performs circumcisions) undergoes extremely rigid
medical training in addition to their Rabbinic training in milah. There is no danger
whatsoever, if you use a trained Orthodox mohel.

Furthermore, if you do a study on the procedure, you will find an interesting fact: Rabbis are better trained in the procedure than doctors! A mohel is a specialist. And remember, we have been doing this for over three thousand years. We DO know what we are doing. In all of Jewish history, there is not one single reported case of any health danger at all to a child circumcised by a licensed, professional Orthodox mohel.

When an Orthodox mohel performs a milah, the entire medical part of the procedure takes about two minutes. When a doctor does it, it takes about twenty minutes, according to my research. (If you doubt this, don’t tell the doctor about this article, and simply ask him how long it will take him to perform the procedure. If you do this, please let me know what he answered, for the sake of my ongoing research in this matter.)

A proper mohel gets the job done quickly, efficiently, and with a minimum of pain. They are up to date on all relevant medical procedures and standard safety measures. In fact, they have to be, according to American law. These days every mohel practices in a hospital.

There is something else you need to realize. Jewish Law does not simply believe that «men should be circumcised.» The medical procedure alone is not the entire purpose. A bris milah brings the young boy into the Covenant that Hashem made with Abraham. This is why it is called a «Bris Milah,» the «Covenant of Circumcision.» There must be the milah, the actual circumcision part, but there must also be the bris part, the covenant part.

So, you see, Bris Milah is not simply a medical procedure. It is a religious ceremony, and the medical procedure is only a part of the ceremony. A doctor can do the milah part, but usually he cannot the bris (covenant) part. He must also be a proper mohel for the ceremony to be valid.

If the child’s doctor is also a proper mohel, which, by the way, does exist, then a proper ceremony can take place, and there is no problem.

But if a doctor does it, and no proper ceremony takes place, the child will not have fully entered the Jewish Covenant. The entire procedure will be meaningless in the religious sense. To make it meaningful, another ceremony will have to be performed, in which all the blessings and prayers are recited, and this will also need a symbolic medical procedure in which a tiny drop of blood is taken from his member. (A convert to Judaism who is already circumcised also does it this way — it’s the same as a Bris Milah but the medical procedure involves only taking a drop of blood.) Why put him through that a second time? Get it all done in one ceremony already, and make things easier for everyone, especially the child.

The Ceremony of Circumcision is a very happy occasion. It brings the child into the Covenant of Abraham, and it is the very first Mitzvah directly associated with a young boy. As a result, that is when he first begins to receive some of the higher spiritual elements that all Jews should have in their souls.

Think of that, and rejoice.

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