1

Circumcision may be performed by anyone. Even a person who is himself not circumcised, a slave, a woman, or a minor may perform the circumcision, if an adult male is not present. A gentile, however, should not be allowed to perform the circumcision at all. Nevertheless, if he does so, there is no need for a second circumcision.

Any utensil may be used for circumcision, even a flint, glass, or any article that cuts. One should not circumcise with the sharpened side of a reed, because of the danger involved. The optimum manner of performing the mitzvah is to use an iron utensil - either scissors or a knife. Throughout the Jewish community, it has become customary to use a knife.

א

הכל כשרין למול ואפילו ערל ועבד ואשה וקטן מלין במקום שאין שם איש אבל עכו"ם לא ימול כלל ואם מל אינו צריך לחזור ולמול שנייה ובכל מלין ואפילו בצור ובזכוכית ובכל דבר שכורת ולא ימול בקרומית של קנה מפני הסכנה ומצוה מן המובחר למול בברזל בין בסכין בין במספרים ונהגו כל ישראל בסכין:

Circumcision may be performed by anyone. - Although a father is commanded to circumcise his son, if he is not present or cannot perform the mitzvah, it may be performed by another person.

Even a person who is himself not circumcised - This refers to a Jew who is not circumcised. The Kessef Mishneh explains that it refers to a person who was not circumcised because his brothers died because of circumcision. A Jew who intentionally fails to circumcise himself, however, should not be allowed to circumcise others. Rav Yosef Karo also quotes this ruling in the Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh De'ah 264:1).

Note also the Ramah (ibid.), who states that an apostate should not be allowed to circumcise others.

a slave - Although a slave is not a full-fledged member of the Jewish community, he is obligated to perform certain mitzvot and is himself circumcised.

a woman - Avodah Zarah 27a allows a woman to perform a circumcision, because "a woman is considered as if she is circumcised." The matter is, however, one of debate, and other Sages do not allow a woman to perform a circumcision. Tosafot follow this view and their opinion is quoted by the Ramah (ibid.).

or a minor - This is allowed because a minor will ultimately be obligated to perform all the mitzvot and is circumcised himself.

may perform the circumcision, if an adult male is not present - i.e., if possible, an adult male should be charged with the fulfillment of this mitzvah.

A gentile, however, should not be allowed to perform the circumcision at all. - The Chatam Sofer (Yoreh De'ah, Responsum 132) explains that when a gentile performs a circumcision, the mitzvah is not performed at all...

Nevertheless, if he does so, there is no need for a second circumcision - because the deed has already been completed. (See also Sha'agat Aryeh, Responsum 54.)

This ruling revolves around the conception that there are two dimensions to circumcision:

a) the mitzvah of actually cutting off the foreskin;

b) the effect of that cutting, that the person is circumcised.

There are, however, other explanations of the Rambam's ruling. The Kessef Mishneh explains that the decision revolves upon whether or not circumcision must be carried out lishmah, for the sake of the fulfillment of the mitzvah.

The Ramah (Yoreh De'ah 264:1) rules that although a second circumcision is not required, blood should be extracted. This is the accepted practice today. Some authorities maintain that even the Rambam requires such a step.

Any utensil may be used for circumcision, even a flint - See Exodus 4:25, which relates that Tziporah (Moses' wife) performed a circumcision with such a utensil.

glass, or any article that cuts. One should not circumcise with the sharpened side of a reed, because of the danger involved. -Chulin16b explains that we are afraid that a splinter from the reed may damage the penis.

The optimum manner of performing the mitzvah is to use an iron utensil - The Targum Yonatan interprets Joshua 5:2 as an indication that iron was used for circumcision even at that early age. The Prishah (Yoreh De'ah 284:7) relates that this custom was instituted after Goliath's iron helmet split open before David's stone. God promised iron that, in recognition of its act on behalf of the Jews, they would use it for a positive purpose in future generations. The Mishnah (Shabbat 19:1) refers to the use of iron utensils for circumcision as an accepted custom.

either scissors or a knife. Throughout the Jewish community, it has become customary to use a knife. - See the Jerusalem Talmud, Shabbat 19:6.

2

How is the circumcision performed? The foreskin that covers the crown of the penis is cut off until the entire crown is revealed. [This step is referred to as milah.]

Afterwards, the soft membrane that is beneath the skin should be split along the mid-line with one's nails and peeled back to either side until the flesh of the crown is revealed. [This step is referred to as pri'ah.]

Afterwards, one should suck the place of the circumcision until all the blood in the further reaches is extracted, lest a dangerous situation arise. [This step is referred to as metzitzah.] Any [mohel] who does not perform metzitzah should be removed from his position. After one has performed metzitzah, one should apply a bandage, a compress, or the like.

ב

כיצד מוהלין חותכין את כל העור המחפה את העטרה עד שתתגלה כל העטרה ואחר כך פורעין את הקרום הרך שלמטה מן העור בצפורן ומחזירו לכאן ולכאן עד שיראה בשר העטרה ואח"כ מוצץ את המילה עד שיצא הדם ממקומות רחוקים כדי שלא יבא לידי סכנה וכל מי שאינו מוצץ מעבירין אותו ואחר שמוצץ נותן עליה אספלנית או רטייה וכיוצא בהן:

How is the circumcision performed? The foreskin that covers the crown of the penis is cut off until the entire crown is revealed. - i.e., all the tissue of the foreskin until its ridge must be removed.

[This step is referred to as milah.]

Afterwards - The pri'ah should be carried out after the circumcision itself. Today, there are some mohalim who insert a utensil and lift up the membrane before the circumcision, and then cut off the foreskin and the membrane together. Many contemporary authorities have criticized this approach.

the soft membrane that is beneath the skin should be split along the midline with one's nails - The Yalkut Shimoni, Vol. II, Note 723, states that nails were created for this purpose.

and peeled back to either side until the flesh of the crown is revealed. - Preferably, no portion of the foreskin or the membrane should remain. See Chatam Sofer (Yoreh De'ah, Responsum13 248).

[This step is referred to as pri'ah.]

Afterwards, one should suck - Traditionally, the mohel sucks out the blood with his mouth. Nevertheless, in previous generations, the Rabbis did grant license to use a pipette because of the possibility that germs in the mohel's mouth might infect the child. Today, there are authorities who suggest the use of a pipette because of the danger that the mohel could contract AIDS.

the place of the circumcision until all the blood in the further reaches is extracted, lest a dangerous situation arise. - The Tiferet Yisrael (Shabbat 19:2) relates that internal bleeding caused by the circumcision could cause the penis to swell, and applying suction to remove the blood averts that danger. The Tiferet Yisrael also writes that a danger exists that applying too strong a suction will rupture the blood vessels and cause excessive bleeding. Therefore, he recommends that one should apply gentle suction.

[This step is referred to as metzitzah.]

Any [mohel] who does not perform metzitzah should be removed from his position - because of the danger to which he exposes the children.

After one has performed metzitzah, one should apply a bandage, a compress, or the like - to stop the bleeding and assist the healing of the wound.

3

There are strands of flesh that disqualify a circumcision [if they are not removed], and strands of flesh that do not disqualify a circumcision.

What is implied? If, [after circumcision,] a portion of the foreskin is left that covers the majority of the crown of the penis' height,1 the child is considered to be uncircumcised, and this flesh is considered a tzitz that disqualifies the circumcision.2If only a small portion of flesh remains which does not cover the majority of the crown of the penis' height, it is considered to be a tzitz that does not disqualify the circumcision.3

ג

יש ציצין מעכבין את המילה ויש ציצין שאין מעכבין את המילה כיצד אם נשאר מעור הערלה עור החופה רוב גבהה של עטרה הרי זה ערל כמות שהיה וזה העור הוא ציץ המעכב ואם לא נשאר ממנו אלא מעט שאינו חופה רוב גבהה של עטרה זהו ציץ שאינו מעכב:

4

While the person performing the circumcision is involved in the operation, he should go back and remove both the tzitzim that disqualify the circumcision and the tzitzim that do not disqualify the circumcision.4 Once he has interrupted his activity, he must return and remove any tzitzim that disqualify the circumcision,5 but he does not return to remove anytzitzim that do not disqualify the circumcision.6

When one performs a circumcision without performing pri'ah, it is considered as if the circumcision was not performed.7

ד

המל כל זמן שעוסק במילה חוזר בין על הציצין שמעכבין בין על ציצין שאין מעכבין פירש על ציצין המעכבין חוזר על ציצין שאינן מעכבין אינו חוזר מל ולא פרע את המילה כאילו לא מל:

5

[The following ruling is given when] a child's flesh is soft and hangs loosely, or if he is very fat and, therefore, it appears that he is not circumcised. We should observe him when he has an erection: if he appears circumcised at that time, it is unnecessary to do anything more. One must, however, correct the flesh on the sides, because of the appearance it creates.

If, however, he does not appear to be circumcised when he has an erection, the loose hanging flesh on the sides should be cut off until the crown of the penis is revealed while it is erect.

This was ordained by the Rabbis. According to the Torah itself, even though he [appears] uncircumcised, since he was circumcised once, there is no obligation to circumcise him again.

ה

קטן שבשרו רך ומדולדל ביותר או שהיה בעל בשר עד שיראה כאילו אינו מהול רואין אותו בעת שיתקשה אם נראה שהוא מהול אינו צריך כלום וצריך לתקן את הבשר מכאן ומכאן מפני מראית העין ואם בעת שיתקשה לא נראה מהול חוזרין וקוצצין את הבשר המדולדל מכאן ומכאן עד שתראה העטרה גלויה בעת קישוי ודבר זה מדברי סופרים אבל מן התורה אע"פ שהוא נראה כערל הואיל ומל אינו צריך למול פעם שנייה:

[The following ruling is given when] - a circumcision was performed properly, but

a child's flesh is soft and hangs loosely, or if he is very fat and - there is flesh protruding over the crown of the penis and

therefore, it appears that he is not circumcised. - Were this condition to result from an improper circumcision, a second circumcision would be required. Since the circumcision was performed correctly, such measures are not necessary. Nevertheless,

We should observe him when he has an erection - when the penis is extended and its flesh taut

if he appears circumcised at that time - There is no need for the entire crown to be revealed; as long as one third of it is not covered by the flesh, it is acceptable (Terumat HaDeshen 264).

it is unnecessary to do anything more. One must, however, correct the flesh on the sides, because of the appearance it creates. - The flesh should be held back with bandages to prevent it from covering the crown. There is, however, no necessity for an additional operation even if these measures are not successful (Terumat HaDeshen, ibid.).

If, however, he does not appear to be circumcised when he has an erection - if more than two-thirds of the crown is covered

the loose hanging flesh on the sides should be cut off until the crown of the penis is revealed while it is erect. - The Ramah (Yoreh De'ah 264:6) explains that, in this instance - in contrast to the original circumcision - it is not necessary to reveal the entire crown; it is necessary only to reveal a minimal portion.

This - second operation

was ordained by the Rabbis. According to the Torah itself, even though he [appears] uncircumcised, since he was circumcised once - properly and all the flesh removed from the crown of the penis

there is no obligation to circumcise him again.

6

Anything that is necessary for the circumcision [itself] may be performed on the Sabbath. We may perform milah, pri'ah, and metzitzah, return and remove the tzitzim that disqualify the circumcision even though one has interrupted one's activity, return and remove the tzitzim that do not disqualify the circumcision if one has not interrupted one's activity, and bandage the circumcision afterwards. The preparation of articles that are necessary for the circumcision does not supersede the prohibitions against labor on the Sabbath.

What is implied? If we are unable to find a knife, a knife may not be made on the Sabbath, nor may we bring it from place to place. It is even forbidden to bring it from one courtyard to another courtyard in an alleyway if there is no eruv. Although the [mitzvah of] eruv is only Rabbinic in origin, it is not superseded by [the necessity] to bring a knife, since it was possible to bring the knife on Friday.

ו

עושין כל צרכי מילה בשבת מלין ופורעין ומוצצין וחוזר על ציצין המעכבין אף על פי שפירש ועל ציצין שאין מעכבין כל זמן שלא פירש ונותן עליה אספלנית אבל מכשירי מילה אינן דוחין את השבת כיצד הרי שלא מצאו סכין אין עושין סכין בשבת ולא מביאין אותו ממקום למקום ואפילו מבוי שאינו מעורב אין מביאין אותו מחצר לחצר ואין עירוב מדבריהם נדחה מפני הבאת הסכין הואיל ואפשר להביאו מערב שבת:

Anything that is necessary for the circumcision [itself] may be performed on the Sabbath. - As mentioned in Chapter 1, Halachah 9, when a circumcision is carried out on the eighth day of a child's life, it may be performed on the Sabbath, with the exception of several unique instances.

We may perform milah, pri'ah, and metzitzah - the three phases of the circumcision mentioned in Halachah 2.

return and remove the tzitzim that disqualify the circumcision even though one has interrupted one's activity - This is permitted because, until these strands of flesh are removed, the obligation to circumcise the child on the eighth day has not been fulfilled. (See Halachah 3 and commentary.) Hence, just as we are allowed to carry out the operation on the Sabbath at the outset, we are allowed to complete its performance by removing these strands of flesh.

return and remove the tzitzim that do not disqualify the circumcision if one has not interrupted one's activity - Even according to the opinion that allows one to return and remove these strands of flesh during the week, it is forbidden to do so on the Sabbath because the circumcision is acceptable. Hence, no further cutting is permitted because of the Sabbath laws.

and bandage the circumcision afterwards. - In general, medication may be applied on the Sabbath only when a danger to life is involved. The Sages considered circumcision to be in this category.

The preparation of articles that are necessary for the circumcision does not supersede the prohibitions against labor on the Sabbath. - The license the Torah grants for circumcision to be performed on the Sabbath applies only to the deed of circumcision, which is itself a mitzvah. All the preparatory stages that make circumcision possible must be performed beforehand, for they are not elements of the actual performance of the mitzvah (Kiryat Sefer).

What is implied? If we are unable to find a knife, a knife may not be made on the Sabbath, nor may we bring it from place to place. - i.e., from a public domain to a private domain

It is even forbidden to bring it from one courtyard to another courtyard in an alleyway if there is no eruv. - Here, there is no Torah prohibition involved. Nevertheless,

Although the [mitzvah of] eruv is only Rabbinic in origin, it is not superseded by [the necessity] to bring a knife -Pesachim 92a cites this as an example of the power of Rabbinic law. Although karet (the punishment for not fulfilling the mitzvah of circumcision) is involved, the Sages enforced their decree against carrying in such places and forbade bringing the knife.

since it was possible to bring the knife on Friday.

7

Herbs may not be ground to [use for the compress], nor may water be heated [to wash the child], nor may a compress be prepared,8 nor may wine and oil be mixed [on the Sabbath itself].9

If cumin was not ground on Friday, one may chew it on the Sabbath10 and apply it [to the wound]. If one did not mix wine and oil together, they may each be applied individually. This is the general rule: Whatever can be performed on Friday does not supersede [the prohibitions against labor on] the Sabbath. Should one forget and not prepare the accessories necessary for the circumcision, the circumcision should be performed on the ninth day.

ז

וכן אין שוחקין לה סממנין ואין מחמין לה חמין ואין עושין לה אספלנית ואין טורפין יין ושמן ואם לא שחק כמון מערב שבת לועס בשניו ונותן ואם לא טרף יין ושמן נותן זה לעצמו וזה לעצמו זה הכלל כל שאפשר לעשותו מערב שבת אינו דוחה את השבת אבל אם שכח ולא הכינו המכשירין תדחה המילה לתשיעי:

8

If a child was circumcised on the Sabbath and, afterwards, the hot water was spilled or the herbs [for the compress] were scattered, one may do anything that is necessary for him on the Sabbath, because of the danger involved.

In a place where it is customary to wash a child, he may be washed on the Sabbath on the day of his circumcision, both before the circumcision and after the circumcision, and on the third day of his circumcision. The child's entire body may be washed as well as the place of the circumcision itself. [On the third day,] he may be washed with water that was heated on Friday or with water that was heated on the Sabbath itself, because the situation involves danger.

ח

מלו את הקטן בשבת ואחר כך נשפכו החמין או נתפזרו הסממנין עושין לו הכל בשבת מפני שסכנה היא לו מקום שדרכן להרחיץ את הקטן מרחיצין אותו בשבת ביום המילה בין לפני המילה בין לאחר המילה או בשלישי של מילה שחל להיות בשבת בין רחיצת כל גופו בין רחיצת מילה בין בחמין שהוחמו מערב שבת בין בחמין שהוחמו בשבת מפני שסכנה היא לו:

9

If a knife was forgotten and not brought [to the place of the circumcision] on Friday, one may instruct a gentile to bring it on the Sabbath, provided he does not bring it through the public domain.

The general principle governing this matter is: It is permissible to tell a gentile to perform any activity that we are forbidden to perform as a sh'vut,11 so that we may perform a mitzvah at its appropriate time.12 When, however, an activity is prohibited because a forbidden labor is involved, we may not instruct a gentile to do it [for us] on the Sabbath.13

ט

שכחו ולא הביאו סכין מערב שבת אומר לעכו"ם להביא סכין בשבת ובלבד שלא יביא אותו דרך רשות הרבים כללו של דבר כל דבר שעשייתו בשבת אסורה עלינו משום שבות מותר לנו לומר לעכו"ם לעשות אותן כדי לעשות מצות בזמנה ודבר שעשייתו אסורה עלינו משום מלאכה אסור לנו לומר לעכו"ם לעשותו בשבת:

10

[The preparation of] the accessories for circumcision - even when the circumcision is being performed at the appropriate time14 - does not supersede [the prohibitions against labor on] the holidays, because it is possible to complete them before the commencement of the holiday.15

[This ruling can be derived through the following] process of inference: If [the preparation of] the accessories for circumcision is not significant enough to supersede the Rabbinic prohibitions of sh'vut, why should they supersede a negative commandment of the Torah?16 [Nevertheless, there are certain greater leniencies on festivals:] One may grind herbs for [the compress], since these herbs are fit to be used in food.17 Similarly, oil and wine may be mixed together.18

י

מכשירי מילה אפילו בזמנה אינן דוחין את יום טוב הואיל ואפשר לעשותן מערב יום טוב וקל וחומר הדברים אם לא דחו מכשירי מילה שבות שהוא מדבריהם היאך ידחו לא תעשה שבתורה אבל שוחקין לה סמנין ביום טוב הואיל וראוי לקדרה וטורפין לה יין ושמן: