It’s been a hard days night

As a Mohel, I can’t afford to bite my nails. However, on a recent flight to New Zealand, it took great effort to refrain from a nervous nibble or two. The plane had been delayed and it was going to be touch and go whether I would have time to land, clear customs, meet the parents, examine the newborn and complete the bris before nightfall.

A kosher bris must be done during the day; in fact, there is much Halachic discussion how to ‘re-bris’ a child circumcised at night.

Parenthetically, a bris done before the 8th day, or done by a non-Jew, or, according to majority opinion, one performed by an irreligious Jew does not qualify as a kosher bris and needs to be rectified as soon as possible. Any queries- ask your Local Orthodox Rabbi.

However, did I really need all the rush and worry? Would running a few minutes late justify postponing my return flight to do the job on the morrow? Would it really make so much difference if we’d have to do the bris after nightfall? Why be so pedantic?

My father learnt the art of Mila from an elderly Russian Chassid, Reb Betzalel, who would tell of hiding all night in an attic watching and waiting for the break of dawn so that he could fulfil his holy task and scurry away, all the while praying that the sounds from outside didn’t presage the approach of the KGB.

Most of us are not faced with such astounding demands of self-sacrifice for G‑d and Judaism; our trials and challenges are more prosaic. However, the temptation to settle for ‘good enough’, the attitude of “she’ll be right,” is sometimes too tempting to withstand. How often do we allow ourselves to cut the corners of religious life, rationalising that good intentions are all that counts?

Judaism rejects this attitude. Done at the right time, a bris is a covenant between Jew and G‑d. The same action done a few minutes too early or too late is nothing but an unnecessary operation.

Let us resolve to not only do the right thing but also to do it at the right time and in the right way.

(Oh, and by the way, I made it to the bris, and with time to spare.)