Can I Write my BABY'S Name on a Birth Certificate Before the Bris?
April 3, 2019
Beis Moshiach in #1161, Halacha 2 Go, Tazria-Metzora, brit milah

In connection with the mitzvah of Bris Milah discussed in Parshas Tazria, we present a collection of halachic articles from on this fundamental mitzvah

By Horav Yosef Yeshaya Braun, Mara D’asra and member of the Crown Heights Beis Din


A Baby Boy’s Name before the Bris

It is a minhag (custom) to avoid naming a baby boy until the time of his bris. One of the explanations for this minhag relates the name to the shoresh haneshama (the G-dly source of the soul) which is the source of chayus (vitality) for every person. But for a baby boy, a bris is required for this connection to be realized, when the orlah (foreskin), a barrier of impurity, is removed.

Many people are very careful that once they’ve reached a decision on the name, they don’t publicize, or even verbalize, their choice until the name is announced at the bris. This practice may cause issues when filling out hospital forms — and a birth certificate — for a new baby boy, where changing a name at a later date post-bris entails much inconvenience and red tape for the new parents. In such a case, it is recommended that parents use their name choice on the legal paperwork, but not otherwise speak about the name or refer to the baby by it.

Sometimes the bris is delayed for some time, such as if a baby boy is born in need of medical care, rachmana litzlan. In this situation, parents in some communities name the baby at the first possible opportunity to provide a name for the recital of Tehillim in his merit. Others still refrain from publicizing a name and request prayers for “Tinok ben __________” (Baby Boy the son of [mother’s name]). Some have the practice to use this label in public but will nevertheless disclose the name privately in a pan or kvitel (written prayer request given to a tzaddik or submitted at his gravesite), or when asking righteous people to daven on the ill baby’s behalf for a refuah shleimah (complete recovery). ( #712)

How to Choose a Mohel

When choosing a mohel to perform a bris milah, it is vital to ascertain that he is a trained professional, experienced and expert, as well as an observant, G-d-fearing Jew who does not change one iota of our mesorah, tradition, as it has been practiced throughout the generations. The mohel should not numb the area with a local anesthetic and should not use gloves, as that can be considered a bizui mitzvah, a disgrace for the mitzvah. Moreover, the gloves get in the way of performing priah with the nail, as described below.

It is essential that the mohel perform all three aspects of milah (milahpriah, and metzitzah) in the halachically correct manner, and in the following order: first, milah, cutting the outer foreskin with a knife and not with a clamp; second, priah, tearing and peeling back the inner layer of the foreskin (membrane) with his nail, and not with a Hemostat; and third, metzizah, sucking the blood directly with his mouth. In certain cases, a rav may permit the use of other methods of metzitzah, such as oral extraction of the blood through a glass tube, but the traditional way is directly by mouth. Some mohalim intentionally perform milah and priah simultaneously which is incorrect.

The mohel must take all necessary precautions to ensure the safety of the baby and not hesitate to postpone the bris if necessary, for example, if the baby has a low birth weight or has an elevated bilirubin count (jaundice, a yellowish appearance of the skin or the whites of the eyes). If a baby’s bris is scheduled for Shabbos and he was not conceived naturally, but through infertility treatments, the mohel should be informed and a discussion should take place with a competent rav to determine whether the bris may be performed on Shabbos.

Do I need to pay a Mohel?

A mohel (professional Jewish circumciser) should not request payment for the act of performing a circumcision, since he is performing a mitzvah. In fact, poskim tell us that we should reprimand a mohel who does so. If a mohel insists on being paid, it’s an indication that he is not a member of the Jewish nation whose trademark is compassion. However, despite the fact that he may not ask to be paid, the mohel should nevertheless be shown appreciation; in addition, he should be reimbursed for his expenses, such as the cost of the medication he administered and his transportation costs. He may even charge for his services if there was another mohel in the area who would have been willing to perform the bris in his stead. He is also entitled to s’char batalah (compensation for wages he would have earned had he not been occupied with performing the bris). #347

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