A Mohel or a Doctor?

It is my firm belief that a Mohel and a doctor are not in competition. They each serve a different purpose. We as Jews view ritual circumcision as a covenant, not a medical procedure. If it was merely a medical procedure, I would be the first one to question its necessity!  

Only because we believe that it is a commandment of the Almighty communicated to the Jewish nation at Mount Sinai that we allow ourselves to perform ritual circumcision.  

Therefore, as a religious rite, it is only logical that it be performed by a fully religious Jew, expert in the laws governing a Bris / Brit and familiar with the medical guidelines for a safe procedure, i.e. a Mohel. It is for this reason that almost all doctors use a Mohel. I have personally performed tens of Britot on sons of physicians of all types. (see References).   

We must not forget that there are Halachic (Jewish Law) guidelines as to, by whom, when and how a Bris / Brit is to be performed. A Brit is a religious rite and ceremony; it is not merely removing the foreskin from the gland. I was appalled and shocked to see a doctor‘s advertisement for a so called Bris: “…With ceremony: $....... without a ceremony: $.....”! 

A few weeks ago (July 2009) I was asked by a Rabbi to check out a baby that was circumcised in a doctor’s office. I went to see the baby. When I opened the diaper, my heart sank! The baby was fully uncircumcised. When I informed the father, he was besides himself. “The doctor spent 40 minutes [with the Gomco clamp] and my son almost passed out from crying and he is not circumcised?!”. I explained to him that what the doctor considered circumcised and what Jewish Law considers a Bris are not necessarily the same.  

On another occasion (2008) I was summoned to do a Brit. The caterer, the hall and invitation time were all set. As part of my routine, I try to visit the baby prior to the Brit. As soon as I checked the baby, I advised the parents that the Brit must be called off! The shaft was completely attached the testicular sack to its length! 

It was clear that remedial surgery was needed to release the shaft to allow it to function freely in a normal fashion. 

I put them in touch with a pediatric urologist and months later together we performed the Brit/ surgery in the operating room.  

I am still at a loss as to how the delivery doctor, pediatrician and nurses released the baby for circumcision with such obvious deformity.  

Furthermore, a doctor will be the first one to tell you that they are not trained to work under such tense and sometimes chaotic conditions.  

Just Imagine: the photographer and videographer are jumping from chair to chair to get the best shot; the grandmother is breathing down the Mohel’s back to make sure he does a good job; the father is nervous to make sure he knows his blessing, all the while calling out to his wife “honey, everything is cool!; the crowd is gathering closer to hear the blessings, and the family dog is pulling at the Rabbis pants and he is about to do the Bris!  

My tools are autoclaved after each use. I have participated in Bris in operating rooms and doctors’ offices.

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