Blood of Milah: Why are You Waiting?

By David Geltzer

I am forty-one but I am like a fifteen year-old. I had my tipas dom bris (the blood drop of a bris) after becoming frum and learning in yeshiva for five years. No one told me to do it but when I read that a bris milah impinges on one’s ability to learn Torah I made my decision. I got my milah Erev Shavuos by a respected mohel and that year I was admitted to a Yeshiva Gedolah that same year. My parents had a reconstructionist (I didn’t know they existed in the sixties) perform my bris.

For several years when I brought up this topic it was always dismissed. I eventually took Hillel’s words to heart, “If your not for yourself who will be for you and if not now when” This is one of the two positive commandments that when unfulfilled gets kores (spiritual excommunication), so why risk transgressing this commandment – it is not expensive, it doesn’t hurt and they don’t do metzitza b’peh! I don’t recommend doing it yourself, as I was originally told to do, as there are halachos how to do it. As one could imagine, I was discouraged from sharing what I did with others but I remember now Hillel’s other statement, “If I am only for myself who am I.”

Note: Our Rabbinic advisors advise that people should consult an Orthodox Rabbi to determine what, if any, action to take in this regard.

3 comments on “Blood of Milah: Why are You Waiting?

  1. Like David, I also was circumcised by a doctor in the hospital before I was eight days old.

    Fast forward 19 years. While I was in college and becoming more observant, I realized that my original bris was not done properly al pi halochoh. I knew a graduate student who had some training as a mohel. So, I requested his services to make a hatofas dom. He assured me that he was experienced, and in fact he had a professional looking mohel’s kit that included a shiny metal lance to take care of the operation. Afterwards, I made a small party with friends to celebrate the milestone in my path to mitzvah observance.

    Fast forward another three years. At that point, I was learning full-time in yeshiva. I happened to stumble across a sefer on hilchos bris milah. It explained that for hatofas dom to be done correctly, the incision must be made letzad ho’oretz, rather than letzad haguf. For the benefit of any men reading this who may possibly be in the same matzav, I will suppress my embarrassment and clarify that this means that the blood must be drawn from the far end, beyond the atoroh. My friend in college, however, had made the incision about half way along the length.

    So, I consulted with a rov, who confirmed that the first hatofas dom was not acceptable, even bedi’eved. Then, the rov very unceremoniously told me lie down on a bed, while he went to fetch a common metal thumbtack. He sterilized the thumbtack by holding it in the flame of a stovetop burner in the kitchen for a few seconds. Then, he performed the operation properly. I will decline to describe the entire procedure in detail, other than to mention that it took a few jabs to actually draw a drop of blood. Thankfully, the pain was not particularly intense, although my embarrassment was quite. At that stage in my life, I felt it would not be cool to make any public celebration. But, at least I got a mazel tov from the rov. And like they say –- no pain, no gain.

  2. Wow. Inspiring and scary. Sometimes I wonder if I would have become frum if I were a man and had to take on all the time-bound mitzvot This strengthens the question, LOL.

  3. My milah was done by a doctor in the hospital when I was three days old. My mother had wanted to have it done by a mohel at the propper time, but I think I was the only Jew born in that hospital, so the doctor didn’t think to ask.
    I had a hatafas dam bris done when I was 25.
    My rabbi told me that someone who know that it needs to be done, but doesn’t have it done, has no share in olam haba.
    After it was done I learned a litte gemarah with the mohel. Then I went home and put on my tefilin again even though I had already had them on in the morning and said shema again.
    Then I had a shot of whiskey! :)

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