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Traditional Bris or Surgical Circumcision?

Sunday, 1 September, 2019 - 11:58 pm


Question of the Week: 


Our baby boy was born yesterday and we are deliberating whether to do a traditional Bris with a mohel, or have it done by a surgeon in hospital. Now the question I have is, would you accept me and my son into your shule if he is not snipped by a mohel?




Mazel tov on becoming a father! I hope your wife is doing well and wish you both only happiness and much nachas!


Let me say outright, you and your son will always be welcome, no matter what you choose. I don't put any barriers up for someone to be a part of our community. 

As a parent, you need to make many decisions that will impact your child's future. This is one of them. Here are the things you need to know before deciding what to do: 

- A surgical circumcision is not a Bris. Apart from the missing blessings and prayers, the actual cut may be different. Which means one day when your son realizes that he didn't have a Bris, he may need a rather unpleasant procedure to get it fixed. At the very least he will require some blood to be drawn and a blessing said. No big deal when you are a baby, but not quite as easy later on.

- A Mohel is not an amateur. Quite the opposite. The average surgeon might do a few of these every now and then. An experienced mohel does them almost daily, and has performed thousands over the years. 

- Many Mohels are also medically qualified. Some are themselves surgeons, who will perform a Bris in their rooms if you prefer. 

- The risks involved with either procedure are minimal, but surgical circumcision could arguably be riskier than a traditional Bris, as more complications can arise from giving a baby an anaesthetic than from a clean cut. 


- The Bris is a tradition that stretches back almost four thousand years. Through it we connect our child with all past generations of Jews, who gave their children a Bris under all circumstances. Your son will enter the covenant that started with the first Jew, Abraham, and continues to this very day. The spiritual power of a Bris cannot be matched by a clinical medical procedure. 

Think it through carefully. You don't want your son turning to you years from now and asking "Why didn't you give me a Bris with a Mohel? Now I have to go and do it properly!" On the other hand, if you do it the right way now, he will never turn to you and say, "Why didn't you circumcise me in hospital under anaesthetic? Now I have to go and do it medically!"


Give your son a Bris, and you give him four thousand years of Jewish identity that will stay with him forever. Don't leave it for him to fix later. This is one of those things you only want to do once. 

Good Shabbos,
Rabbi Moss

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