We now present part 2 of my article about why brissin are easily one of the least stressful simchas to make.
If you missed last week’s article, that’s okay, because that’s one thing about brissin: As a guest, you can show up incredibly late – like on time for bentching – and people are just happy you tried. They’re like, “Here! Take the leftovers!” They don’t do that at a wedding. If you show up two hours late to a wedding, no one says, “Here, wrap this plate of chicken! Take some soup! You have kids at home, right?”
No one’s really ever upset at a bris. No one says, “We told you to come two hours early for pictures; where were you? You were supposed to be here at 5 in the morning! We were gonna do before and after photos!”
In fact, in a lot of ways, a bris is a good beginners’ simcha to make not long after you get married. It’s only slightly more stressful than a sholom zachor, because people actually come hungry. The difficulty goes: sholom zachor, kiddush, bris, bar mitzvah, and then chasunahs, I hear.
So there are very simple foods, and people love them anyway:
“Look, it’s like bread, but there’s a hole in the middle!”
It’s very exciting.
“Cream cheese! Tuna! It’s like shalosh seudos, but for breakfast!”
In fact, you know how people go out of their mind at a kiddush if there’s cholent, or at a wedding if there’s sushi or a carving station? At a bris, people are super excited if there are scrambled eggs. It doesn’t even have to be good scrambled eggs. It can be baked in a 9x13.
“This is the best!”
It’s like the cholent of brissin. And if there are potatoes too? And Shabbos cereal for the kids in those gumball machines? You’ve gone all out. Phenomenal start to the day. “Part of this complete breakfast.”
Imagine you showed up at a chasunah and there’s bagels and cream cheese. You’d say, “This is the worst! I ate fleishigs before I got here!” But this is the morning, so you can be pretty sure that no one’s fleishig! And if they are, it’s kind of their fault.
Basically, no one has incredibly high standards for the food at a bris. Though that said, if I show up at your child’s bris and you don’t have coffee, I’m going home. Find someone else to hold your baby and pass him from the guy holding your baby to the other guy holding your baby.
I also appreciate that you don’t have to dance at a bris. Definitely not with the baby on a pillow. Or up on a chair, for that matter. In fact, the baby goes back to sleep before the seudah even starts because no one told him he’d have to wake up that early. He has literally never woken up for Shacharis in his life. He just went to sleep regular time the night before. And then kept waking up in middle of the night. That guy is zonked. But I mean you don’t even dance the baby back down the aisle after the kriyas shem. The kvatterin sneak him out immediately while everyone’s still saying Aleinu.
What I really like is that a bris is the only simcha with suspense:
What’s the name going to be?
You do not have this kind of suspense at the other simchas:
Will they get married, or will they not? They will. They made it this far, and everyone’s already here.
What’s the kallah’s new name going to be? It was on the invitation.
And a bar mitzvah has zero suspense either.
Will his friend show up on a hoverboard? Who cares?
What mesechta did he finish? Makkos. It’s always Makkos.
But here, it’s like, “What is the name going to be?” And the parents don’t tell anybody. It has to be a closely-guarded secret. They don’t even tell the person making the bracha until he’s right in middle of the bracha. That way he can’t tell anyone. They won’t even tell him right before the bracha. They can’t even put it on a card. And if the person mishears it, you just have a comical story for the baby when he gets older about why he’s had to go around correcting people his entire life.
Basically, the parents want everyone to be dead quiet for the bracha. Because otherwise, you know people will talk. Which is what happened at their chuppah, because there was no suspense, because the chosson’s last name was already on the invitation. See?
So everyone is quiet, waiting with bated breath. All you can hear is the baby crying.
“Sha! You’re not going to hear your name!”
And then there’s the excitement when everyone mishears the name. And all the women say to the mother of the baby, “What a nice name!” and your wife says, “What? That’s not what we talked about!” For example, at the bris of my son Daniel (not his real name), I actually said a different name, but all the women somehow heard Daniel. And it spread around before my wife got back to the women’s section.
It actually wasn’t Daniel. Just in my articles.
And then I was at a bris recently where all anyone in the room actually heard was “ben Shlomo.” Is that how Ben Azzai got his name? And Ben Dreusa’i? And Ben Shapiro?
But even if you do hear the name, there’s still some suspense. Now you want to stick around for the speech and find out why he has that name. Though if you don’t know, it’s probably after the other side. Or something in the parsha. Or a Gadol. But like is it named after a grandfather? Two grandfathers? Two grandfathers that couldn’t stand each other? Is there a great grandfather involved? And sometimes it’s a name that exists on both sides, and you want to know: “Which side did they have in mind?” It matters. That way with the next baby, they can have the other side in mind.
Another great thing, for the baal simcha, is that they don’t have to make seating cards. Though it’s possible that that’s actually the main stress for the guests – that there are no seating cards. You come down after the bris, and you take your bagel, and you take your time cutting it open, and you look around, like, “Why is nobody that I know down here yet? Is there something I’m missing? Is there a last step I don’t know about? Was there another Aleinu? Are they doing the bris again for the late minyan?” And you take a seat, and the people who sit down at your table around you are people you don’t know who don’t realize that you’re family. They’re not family; how are they supposed to know who’s family? For all they know, you’re not either. They thought this was the stranger table, and they figured, “Why start a second stranger table?” The family as far as they know is still upstairs. So who are you?
You sat there hoping to start a family table so you can talk to your brothers about how they all know your brother-in-law. And some of your brothers are among the last to find a seat, because they’re spending forever standing over the buffet making sandwiches for their kids. (“Do you want lox?” “What’s lox?” “Let’s hold up the line!”) And now they’re finally walking around with plates and starting their own table because they looked over at you and have no idea why you’re sitting with some guy they don’t know instead of starting a family table that they can sit at with you, and you’re not making conversation with the guy you’re sitting with because you keep glancing over at their table and trying to think of an excuse to pick up your stuff and leave. You’re kind of hoping that your table fills up with so many non-relatives that you can get up and give someone your seat, but apparently most of the non-relatives that are coming in realize you’re related so they assume the guy next to you is related and they don’t join your table either. And the other guy maybe sat next to you thinking he would have a great time because you’re some comedian, and you haven’t said two words to him, and you are definitely still too tired to deal with this, and… Wait. I think he’s my mother’s cousin or something, isn’t he?
But besides for that, brissin are easy. There are so few stresses. It’s just: Did the baby show up? Or did he not show up? And as the baal simcha, you don’t have to book a hall – you can just make it in your shul’s basement, and even if it’s not a particularly nice basement, no one cares. If your shul has no basement, you can just daven over the table settings. Also, no one expects you to give out bentchers, unless the bris is really late. And even though you’re the boy’s parents, you don’t have to worry about Flowers, Liquor, Orchestra, or Pictures. Or maybe you do, but on a way smaller scale. For example, the only one who really needs liquor is the baby.
I’m just saying that if you’re looking to make a simcha – And who isn’t? – I would highly encourage you to go with a bris. I’m just saying that we as K’lal Yisrael should IY”H make more brissin, if we can.