Who can be a Mohel?
ANSWER: The Mohel who performs the ritual circumcision is a person who has received specialized training in the medical and ritual aspects of the Bris. The moment of the Bris has a great spiritual effect upon the child and therefore Jewish law specifies that one should choose a Mohel who is noted not only for his technical skills but also for his level of piety.
Does the Baby Feel Excruciating Pain During the Circumcision?
ANSWER: When the mohel performs the circumcision, he makes a swift motion with an izmel - a traditional scalpel used for brit milah - which is intended to minimize the pain and discomfort.
Those who stand close to the mohel will notice that the infant usually starts to cry as soon as the diaper is opened, and stops crying as soon as it's closed. In fact, during the newborn stage, many infants cry anytime they are changed or bathed. The cry is not necessarily pain-related. Typically, the infant is calm as the blessings are made over a cup of wine and his Jewish name is announced.
It's interesting to note that the traditional circumcision is performed on the eighth day of the child's life when his clotting factor has fully developed, which is optimal for healing. At the same time, the nerve endings are not completely developed which lessens the infant's discomfort.
Why specifically on the eighth day?
ANSWER: The Bible explicitly states "And on the 8th day he shall have his foreskin circumcised" (Leviticus 12:3).
There is also a deeper reason. The number seven represents nature-seven days of the week, seven colors of the rainbow, seven musical notes. The number eight is the number that surpasses seven, and thus represents the miraculous, what is beyond nature. We do the Bris on the eighth day because the Jewish people survive on miracles. Our history defies the laws of nature. We welcome a new Jewish child into this miraculous existence on the eighth day of his life, as if to say, "Expect miracles!"
Why and how would circumcision be beneficial to my son?
ANSWER: Circumcision is a practice that has existed for over 3,700 years. History indicates that circumcision has been in practice because of the various health benefits involved. The principal advantages are: 1) Preventative health care - circumcision aids in the prevention of certain diseases, among them penile cancer. 2) Sociological benefits - boys feel more comfortable among their friends when they are circumcised like them. 3) Religious fulfillment - by having had a circumcision, the boy has fulfilled the Biblical commandment that all males be circumcised.
Is there a gift that is appropriate for the Bris?
ANSWER: As a good friend it may be thoughtful to come to the Bris with a gift. A nice gift may be something like an infant's outfit or perhaps the parents have set up a baby gift registry.