Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The Ceremonial Snipping

It's going to be a quick post today.  We are in the midst of packing up the car to get on the road to New York, so we can attend the bris of our nephew tomorrow.

We are so excited to meet him.  I mean, what is more precious than an 8 day old newborn baby that is not keeping you up at night?  But as quickly as we meet him, he will be whisked away by some old guy with a kid doctor kit and no medical degree, who will cut the skin off his penis with no anaesthetic.  Oh wait, they do give the baby a little bit of wine afterwards to numb the pain.  That makes it all the more acceptable.

We did a bris for both of our sons.  I didn't particularly want to, but it was important for my husband to have his childrens' penises snipped by an old Jewish guy in front of friends and family.  I have to say, it wasn't as traumatic as I thought.  For some reason (the wine perhaps?), neither of my kids really cried.  It was a pain to deal with the aftercare (picture raw, red, bloody newborn baby penis), but I suppose we would have had to do that even if they had been circumsised in the hospital.  (And I'm not going to engage in the circumsised versus non-circumsised debate that seems to be so prevalent these days - to each his own, do what you want with your kids' penises).

After going through the bris thing twice, I have to say, it is pretty archaic, and there are the most arbitrary rules for when the bris has to occur.  The general rule is you have to do it on the eighth day of life, unless the baby was born after sunset - then you need to add a day.  But if the baby was born by c-section, it's a whole other ball game.    God has taken modern medicine into consideration and sent strict holy guidelines to His disciples.  If the baby is born by C-section, then you cannot perform the bris on a Saturday.  This is very important!  Oh, and if the baby is sick, then you can postpone the bris for a week from when the baby is well.  Because maybe the baby doesn't want to go straight from the hospital to a penis cutting ceremony.

Who performs this ceremonial snipping?  A mohel.  A mohel is not necessarily a rabbi, and there are many mohels for hire.  We found our mohel through the holy internet source, and he charged us about $700 for his time.  The whole process took about half an hour, and he abruptly left after our bris to run to the next one.  We asked him how many brises (the plural of "bris") he performs a day, and he told us three or four.

By my calculations, that means that this guy is making up to $2800 a day.  This is lucrative stuff, people!  And no medical degree required.  Perhaps I should consider this as a side job.  The hourly wage is certainly higher than I ever made as a lawyer.

At the end of the day, the baby's wee little penis will heal.  There will be pictures to commemorate the rite of passage.  And so is tradition.

Can't wait to meet you, Mason!

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