The Jesin Circumcision Clinic - Brit Milah
 Home Circumcision Brit MilahMohel Humour  
 
 

Mazal Tov on the birth of your son!

Brit milah, the covenant of circumcision, was commanded by God to Abraham over 3,700 years ago. It has been carried out faithfully, from generation to generation, even during times of religious and ethnic persecution when Jews were forced to practice their rituals in secret. In fact, the only time the Jewish people willingly desisted from this practice was during the 40 years of wandering in the Sinai wilderness. Before entering Canaan, every male was circumcised by Joshua.

The acceptance of this commandment, or mitzvah, established an eternal bond between God and the Children of Israel. Its observance today is testimony to the continuity and strength of that relationship which requires us to perform the mitzvah with adherence to the laws and customs prescribed in the Torah and interpreted by our sages.

God appeared to Abraham when he was 99 years old and commanded him to circumcise himself, his son, Ishmael, all the males of his household and all his slaves. It is said that Abraham accomplished this on the tenth day of the month of Tishri, later designated as Yom Kippur, when the sins of the Jewish people were forgiven. The following year, when Isaac was born, he was circumcised on the eighth day. In return for his faithfulness, God promised Abraham that his descendants would become a great nation and inherit the land of Canaan for eternity.

Although circumcision dates to prehistoric times, and is one of the oldest operations performed by mankind, for the Jewish people the rite supersedes the surgical component. The rabbis believed it so important that they declared, "Were it not for the blood of the covenant, heaven and earth would not exist." (Shabbat 137b) Punishment for failure to obey this commandment was to be karet - cut off from one's kind, more specifically, excised from the community by Divine decree. Gradually, brit milah acquired a national identity, making its performance today as mandatory for the modern secularists of Israel as for the traditionally observant.

Information About Circumcision

The Jewish people have adhered to the covenant of circumcision throughout the ages – both in times of peace and prosperity, as well as in times of persecution and difficulties. Nothing has ever stopped us from fulfilling this great and holy commandment from G-d. We were chosen to be a light unto the nations; circumcision displays our eagerness and willingness to be connected to G-d and to fulfill His Divine Will.

Important: The Jewish brit, with all pertaining ceremonies, is performed for a Jewish child who is either born from a Jewish mother or from a woman who had properly converted according to Orthodox Jewish law. In all other circumstances, circumcision may be performed on the child, but religious ceremonies are withheld unless they are being performed as part of a proper conversion process.

Instructions For Ritual Circumcision

The following is a list of items which you will need to prepare for the ceremony:

  1. Kosher, preferably, sweet red wine. The sugar in sweet wine has been proven to have some pain-reducing effects. The wine must have an acceptable kosher supervision. If you are not sure if the supervision on the wine is acceptable, please check with me.
  2. A kiddush cup or medium sized glass.
  3. Two candles and candle sticks. (e.g. Shabbat candles; but no candles if the ceremony takes place on the Sabbath or other Jewish Holy Day.)
  4. The father, the sandek and the sandek sheini (see definitions below) should wear a tallit (or prayer shawl) during the ceremony. Make sure these are available.
  5. Pillow and pillow case. The pillow should be big enough to hold the baby but definitely not king-size.
  6. A flat tray which can fit inside the pillow case under the pillow. The tray should be firm but not heavy.

Please prepare the following items at the physical location where the bris will take place. Make sure this location has adequate lighting.

  1. Two firm chairs. Many facilities today have a designated “bris” chair. If that is the case you do not necessarily need a second chair.
  2. A small table, next to the chairs. It should be large enough to accommodate my instruments, candles and candlesticks, wine, and a diaper. It should be sturdy.
  3. An extra diaper on the table.
  4. A small waste basket.

For after care of the brit milah, you will need:

  1. Vaseline. Antibiotic ointment is NOT needed. The infection rate is only 3%. In the relatively rare instance of infection, antibiotic ointment or cream can be used, but only a maximum of 3 times a day.
  2. Gauze. Either squares or a roll is ACCEPTABLE but squares are easier and cleaner. DO NOT use gauze with a plastic coating, i.e. do not use "Easy Release" or "non-stick" gauze. You will need approximately 36 pieces for three days of dressing changes.

General Instructions:

  1. It is extremely important to try to have a minyan (10 Jewish men over the age of 13 years) present. Even if this is not possible, the bris must still take place.
  2. It is a mitzva to have a kiddush or meal after the ceremony. As this is a ritual occasion, please try to ensure that all the food is kosher. I will be happy to offer any advice in this regard.
  3. Please write down ahead of time the Hebrew names of the baby, father and mother in order to prevent an error being made in the excitement of the moment.

Honours:

Please decide on these ahead of time, and inform the people:
  1. Sandek -- The man who holds the baby during the brit milah.
  2. Sandek Sheini (Me'umad or standing) -- The man who holds the baby during the naming ceremony.
  3. Kwater & Kwaterina -- The couple who bring the baby into the room.
  4. Kisei Eliyahu -- A man to put the baby down on the chair of Elijah before the brit.
  5. OPTIONAL: You may also honour as many people as you wish by including them in a line which participates in passing the baby to the brit. Women are also encouraged to be included in this category.
  6. The father will be required to recite the following blessing:

    (Barooch atoh adonai elohainu melech ha'olam asher kideshanu bemitzvotav vetzivanu lehachneeso bivreeto shel Avraham aveenu.)
     
  7. If the father of the baby is Sephardic (for a bris outside of Israel) or for all fathers (if the bris occurs inside of Israel), the father adds the following blessing:

    (Barooch atah Adonai elohainu melech ha’olam shecheyanu v’kiyemanu v’higiyanu lazman hazeh.)

Baby Care:

Before the Bris:
  1. Try not to feed the baby for 2 hours before the brit. This is important.
  2. Dress the baby in a gown or T-shirt plus receiving blanket.

After the Bris:

  1. I will make myself available for a followup in order to change the first dressing and check the baby. This will usually take place on the day of the bris or the next day. It will usually be via a video call.
  2. For the first few diapers, when the baby urinates, it is normal for the urine to dilute the blood from the dressing through the diaper making it appear bloody on the outside. Inside the diaper, the dressing will appear obviously wet and not bright red. If you suspect active bleeding, i.e. if the inside of the diaper is full of bright red blood or clots, put some pressure on the penis with a piece of gauze and call me immediately.
  3. If the baby does not urinate within 6 hours, please call.
  4. Once the initial dressing falls off, or is removed by myself, place a piece of gauze with a large wad of vaseline over the penis at each diaper change. Continue this for 3 days.
  5. Redness and some swelling may occur for 5 to 7 days.
  6. Use only sponge baths until the 3rd day.
  7. Dry sticky yellow discolouration which cannot be rubbed off is normal and may last 2-4 weeks.
  8. Yellowish or greenish liquid pus usually signifies infection and should be reported. It is easily treated with an appropriate ointment which can be obtained from myself or your doctor.

Pidyon HaBen

It is necessary for a first born male, whose father or mother are not a Cohen or Levi and who was not born by C-Section, to undergo redemption of the first born. I will be happy to answer any questions you might have in this regard.

Anaesthesia

This topic has become much discussed in the last few years. It is important to note that all the studies regarding circumcision and pain have been done with non ritual circumcision which is a longer and more painful procedure. However, though babies recover extremely quickly from their bris even if wine is their only anaesthetic, it is possible that they experience some element of pain. However, EVERYONE allows the use of topical cream. The recommended cream would be EMLA. It has to be put on at least 1 hour before the procedure. It should be spread fairly liberally covering the whole penis and top of the scrotum. The penis should then be loosely wrapped with cellophane, and this should be left on till the brit.
You should be aware that the EMLA has not been approved for babies under the age of six months. However in a Toronto study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, it has been found to be safe. I have found it to be inconsistently effective. It also may cause some swelling as well as rendering the area a bit slippery. This has never caused a problem during a brit. I leave the decision of using this cream up to you, the parents.
Many rabbinical scholars allow the use of an injectable anaesthetic but not on Shabbat and Jewish Holy Days. I do not necessarily recommend the injection in the newborn. However, if the bris has been delayed for 4 weeks or more, I definitely prefer using this form of anesthesia.

Please feel free to ask me any questions you might have.

About Dr. Aaron Jesin

  • Mohel since 1978.
  • Performed over 18,000 circumcisions.
  • Studied under Rabbi Dr. Yehuda Eliezri and Dr. Isidore Cass.
  • Certified byVaad HaRabbonim of Toronto by Rabbi Gedalya Felder zt'l.

Education:

  • High School Diploma: 1969 from Community Hebrew Academy of Toronto (CHAT)
  • Honours Bachelor of Sciences Degree: 1973 from University of Toronto
  • Medical Degree: 1977 from University of Western Ontario
  • Rotating Internship: 1977-1978 at St. Joseph's Hospital, London, Ontario
  • Resident Year I in Internal Medicine: 1978-1979 at University of Western Ontario

Dr. Aaron Jesin
The Jesin Circumcision Clinic
e-mail: aaron@drjesin.com
Israeli phone number: 052-399-4313
WhatsApp: +972523994313
Canada phone number: 1-416-635-5012

  Dr. Aaron Jesin
e-mail: aaron@drjesin.com