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Frequently Asked Questions on Circumcision

A Mohel is a person who is specially trained in the medical and surgical techniques of circumcision. In addition to being an expert in his field, the Mohel is also a Rabbi who is spiritually in touch with the miracle of birth and performs the circumcision not simply as a medical procedure, but as a holistic and spiritual act bonding parent

and child. It is important to choose a Mohel with whom you feel comfortable, someone who will be accommodating to the specific needs of your family. Pediatricians, obstetricians and urologists constantly marvel at the work of a good mohel.

This is the most important and frequently asked question of me. As a Mohel, who is judged every day by the sounds the baby makes both during and after the circumcision, it is one that I do not take lightly. The “success” of a Mohel is generally judged in three areas:

  1. The baby’s comfort during and after the circumcision;
  2. The Mohel’s “bedside” manner; and
  3. The Pediatrician’s evaluation of the circumcision.

Many studies have been performed to try to ascertain how much pain the baby feels. I myself participated in one that measured the difference in the baby’s discomfort level when the hospital/doctor techniques were used in comparison with the technique that I use. The results were startling. There were signs of minimal discomfort with my technique and severe discomfort with the standard medical techniques. This is because the Mohel is a specialist and will possess much more experience than most doctors. A doctor will strap the baby down on a molded  plastic bodyboard placed on a table, use a very painful clamp (Plasti-bell or GOMCO) and the procedure may take up to twenty minutes or longer. Instead, I place the baby on a soft, comfortable pillow and do not strap him down. The instrument I use to perform the circumcision is not the same instrument used by a doctor. It is much more efficient with better results. Most importantly, a procedure should never take more than 20 seconds There are topical creams, ointments and penile blocks that are available. As a Mohel with the technical expertise to perform adult circumcisions, as well as infants, I am able to use them, but they all have drawbacks when used on a newborn baby that far outweigh any benefit. I would be happy to discuss the pros and cons with you. I do use a special numbing agent following the circumcision. The overwhelming percentage of babies stop crying as soon as I replace the diaper and pick them up.

The cost of circumcision depends on the provider. In my practice, I travel all over the world performing my mentors specialized technique so the price would depend on where I would be traveling.
The technique I use is identical to the one I use on babies. However, due to the healing process of Adults, it is important to apply sutures to aid in the correct healing of the skin edges.

Perhaps the most famous of all of the Torah’s commandments, an act that the Talmud states will be joyfully observed by the Jewish people forever – even during times of persecution 1 – is that of circumcision, or brit mi/ah. Of this, the Torah states: ‘And on the eighth day, the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised.’ (Leviticus 12:2-3).

Although we can never truly understand the reasons for G-d’s commandments, it is nevertheless appropriate here to examine some of the incredible scientific findings concerning changes in the body that take place on the eighth day of life. We begin with the words of Ayala Abrahamov, M.D., Senior Professor of Pediatrics at the Faculty of Medicine at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, in her article ‘Problems with Blood Clotting and Bleeding in Newborns’ (2) ‘The system of blood clotting or coagulation depends on certain types of proteins, called platelets, which are produced by the liver. These materials, known by the Roman numerals I-XIII (1-13), work in sequence [together with various enzymes] until a stable clot called a fibrin is formed. In the first days after birth the liver is not yet developed enough to survive any surgical operations, which could cause massive bleeding and lead to the death of the newborn, whose body simply does not have the ability to stop the blood flow on its own. Physiologically, until the eighth day, the liver slowly develops, until on the eighth day itself, it is mature enough to fulfill its role to create the clots necessary to stop bleeding.’

It is important to note that non­Jewish medical researchers, such as Dr. Armand James Quick (1894-1978), were astounded at the uncanny correlation between the development of the body’s ability to stop bleeding and the timing of Jewish Ritual Circumcision.

Dr. Armand James Quick, who served for years as the head of the Department of Biochemistry at Marquette University in Wisconsin, specialized in blood research. As part of his work he made a number of significant discoveries, and developed an important blood diagnosis test known as Quick’s Tests I, II, m. His procedure for determining blood-clotting time and the amount of the hormone prothrombin in the blood were considered pioneering discoveries in the field. He notes in his writings that during the first days of a newborn’s life, the amount of blood clotting material is limited, so that even a small cut is liable to cause serious danger for a newborn, to the point of threatening its life. By the eighth day after birth, the ability of the newborn’s blood to clot grows dramatically. Quick notes: ‘It is not a coincidence that the religion of Moses sets its ceremony for circumcision on the eighth day.’

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