Wach Nacht

1) It is customary to remain awake and study Torah near the child all night during the night before the bris. This night is called the Wach Nacht.1

Postponing the Bris Even for a Remote Possibility of Danger

2) The Tzemach Tzedek ruled that even when there is a remote possibility that the child is not yet strong enough, the Torah requires that the bris be postponed until he becomes strong enough. This must not be treated lightly.2

We also know the psak din of the Tzemach Tzedek regarding a child whose skin is too red even when in doubt, we must wait until seven days after he returns to normal.3 The Rebbe instructed the secretary, R. Chaim Yehudah Krinsky that also when the child is jaundiced, we must wait until seven days after he returns to normal. He added: “It is possible to postpone the bris; it is not possible to bring even one Jewish soul back to life.”4


3) It is a Jewish custom to refrain from taking a pregnant woman as Kvatterin.5

An Expert Mohel

4) According to what the Tzemach Tzedek did in actual deed: in a place where there are two mohelim one a simple person but highly skilled, and the other elderly and familiar with the kavannos, etc., but less skilled one must take the expert one, for that is helpful in the actual operation [rather than merely in the spiritual aspects].6

A Sandek for Two Brothers

5) It is a Jewish custom (mentioned by the Rama) not to honor one person as sandek for two brothers.7 This does not apply to the local rabbi, who can be honored as sandek for more than one child of the same parents.8

6) I have not seen it done among Anash for a father to serve as sandek twice for his sons.9

The Sandek Wearing a Tallis

7) It once happened that the Rebbe Rayatz went to a bris in order to serve as sandek; he ordered his tallis to be taken along, and he then put it on without a blessing10 (this was several hours after the prayers11). The Rebbe would also do that.12

8) When the Rebbe was a sandek he wore his hat, and the tallis was around his shoulders.13

Should Two Chairs be Set Up at a Bris — One for Eliyahu and One for the Sandek?

9) Is it our custom to set up two chairs at a bris milah ? I never heard clearly [from my father-in-law] what our custom is, but I am nearly certain14 that when I attended a bris where my father-in-law was the sandek (in Warsaw) there was only one chair.15

It is Forbidden to Circumcise using a “Gomke”

1610) Regarding the circumcision of Jewish children using the device known as a “gomke” beyond the fact that this profanes the holiness of this mitzvah, which must be done specifically by hand, by a Jew who observes mitzvos; and beyond the fact that this causes pain and suffering to the child it is simply forbidden to do this. Not only on Shabbos when this may involve a transgression punishable by stoning, but even on weekdays. It is clear that a milah performed properly according to law [i.e., without a gomke] will have the spiritual effect of promoting long life.17

Tearing the Mucous Membrane

11) One must exert one’s utmost influence to ensure that the mucous membrane is torn18 as a separate operation [from cutting the foreskin].19

Suction by Mouth

12) Suction must be done only by mouth20 (and this poses no danger of disease, G‑d forbid). Experience tells us that we have been doing the suction by mouth for thousands of years, and no sickness was ever caused by it (G‑d forbid). One who wishes to change this practice bears the burden [of proof that it is necessary and proper], and children should not be given to him to circumcise. One who keeps a mitzvah will know no evil occurrence.21

Suction using a Tube

13) When it is unavoidable (i.e., if he does it by mouth he will be dismissed from his position) the suction may be done through a glass tube. Some insert cotton wool into the tube and suck through the cotton. The reason for inserting the cotton is that it aids sterility and prevents the passage of bacteria. What I mean is that some cotton is inserted into the tube in such a way that it does not interfere with the vacuum caused by the mouth of the person doing the suction, and the blood passes through the sterile cotton.22

Circumcision Under General Anesthesia

14) In the case of circumcision for one who has already passed his bar mitzvah,23 and it is proposed to do it under medication that results in general anesthesia It seems that it is also possible to inject elsewhere (usually the spine). This temporarily removes all sensation of pain, but does not put the patient to sleep and he remains in full possession of all his faculties (and thus he remains fully obligated in this mitzvah). The difference between these two procedures [and preference for the second] is obvious.24

Delaying the Bris Until After Minchah so that Many More Can Attend - Regarding the Rejoicing25

15) Regarding what you ask me, whether to discourage the custom to delay the bris so that many more can attend: Since milah is best accompanied by rejoicing (as cited in several places regarding the rejoicing at a bris), this supersedes the requirement that "those who are enthusiastic about it do a mitzvah at the earliest possibility." For this reason, when Tishah BeAv is postponed [from Shabbos to Sunday] the milah is delayed until after Minchah (for then the fast may be interrupted).26 We see from experience that the degree of rejoicing depends upon the number of people attending, and sometimes there is even sadness when some are unable to attend.27

In the present case, there is an additional point depending on it - a chassidic farbrengen. Certainly, at this occasion they will speak about Torah and mitzvos and Chassidus; in the final analysis, it is G‑d Himself “who has commanded us to do all these statutes, in order to Fear …”

Postponed Circumcision

16) I have not heard of specific days on which a postponed bris should be done; in fact, it is implied in several references that there are no special days. It should not be postponed (more than necessary) without good reason.28

Circumcision on Yom Kippur

17) If a bris on Yom Kippur takes place outside the synagogue, it is done following the Torah reading. In such case, the Torah scrolls are returned to the ark before people leave the synagogue, because there will be a long pause before the Mussaf service.29

For the same reason, when people return to the synagogue and the Kaddish is recited before the Mussaf service, it is proper to recite a chapter of Tehillim before saying the Kaddish.30

One Need not Endeavor to Circumcise Twin Brothers at the Same Time when Only One is Healthy

18) Whether the bris should be postponed until both can be done together? I do not understand the rationale for such an idea. It must be done for one child whenever he reaches full health, and for the second child whenever he becomes healthy and strong, even if they will not be at the same time.31

Procedure at a Bris

19) When the child is brought to the synagogue, they recite: Blessed is he who has enteredHappy is the man You choose … And the L-rd spoke … Pinchas ben Elazar … My covenant of peace.32

20) When the child is placed upon the Seat of Elijah, the Mohel says: This is the Seat of Elijah33

21) The mohel recites the following blessing: Blessed are You, L-rd our G‑d, King of the universe, who has sanctified us with His commandments and commanded us concerning circumcision.

22) The father of the child recites the following blessing between cutting the foreskin and tearing the mucous membrane:34 Blessed are You, L-rd our G‑d, King of the universe, who has sanctified us with His commandments and commanded us to enter him into the Covenant of Avraham Avinu.35

23) Those present respond: Just as he has entered into the Covenant, so may he enter into Torah, into marriage, and into good deeds.36

24) After the foreskin has been cut off properly, the mohel should quickly tear the mucous membrane and perform the suction, then take the cup [of wine] and say: Blessed are You, L-rd our G‑d, King of the universe, who creates the fruit of the vine.37

25) In the blessing … who sanctified the beloved one from the womb…,38 when saying the words צוה להציל the word צוה should be pronounced with a chirik [tzivah].39

26) [Next comes the recitation of] Our G‑d and G‑d of our fathers, preserve this child … and his name in Israel shall be called40

27) A child is given to drink of the wine over which the blessing has been made, or he [who recited the blessings] should drink it himself. After the circumcision, the mohel and the father of the infant recite the following prayer: Sovereign of the universe41 May He who blessed… pledged charity for his sake for bikkur cholim…

Reciting the Blessing of Shehecheyanu

28) It is our custom not to recite the blessing of Shehecheyanu at a bris.42

Circumcising a Convert whose Father is Jewish

29) If a Jew cohabits with a non-Jewish woman, and a son is born to them, and the father brings him to be circumcised: he is not to be circumcised as a convert with his father’s permission. But if the mother wishes that the child be converted, then in my opinion he must be converted under the auspices of a beis din.43

Circumcising a Convert Under General Anesthesia

30) When circumcising a convert: since this milah is not an independent mitzvah at all, but merely a prerequisite [to the conversion], all opinions would agree that he may be put to sleep.44

למול את הגרים

31) When circumcising a convert, the text of the first blessing is למול את הגרים (“to circumcise the converts”).45

Reciting a Chassidic Discourse

32) It is the custom of Anash that during the feast of a bris milah the child’s father recites a chassidic discourse relating to the subject of bris milah.

Advance Payment for Tuition

33) When he was invited to a bris, it was my saintly father-in-law’s was custom to donate a sum of money to the yeshivah at the beginning of the feast. He would declare that this was a down payment for the tuition for when the infant grows older.46

Reciting הרחמן at a Bris

34) It is customary that at the end of the Grace After Meals we recite the passages beginning with הרחמן for bris milah (as printed in the Siddur), after which we continue with ...הרחמן הואHaYom Yom, entry for 28 Adar II. Darkei Chayim VeShalom (Munkacz), Hilchos Milah 933; Sefer HaBris 265:192; Edus LeYisrael, p. 114; Otzar HaBris, 6:17:16; Shaar HaKollel on the procedure for milah.