Question: What should be done where a bris milah was performed before the eighth day?

 Short Answer: While some poskim rule that hatafas dam bris (i.e., symbolic drawing of blood) is necessary where a bris milah is performed before the eighth day, the Rama disagrees and rules that it is unnecessary. However, even the Rama agrees that a milah performed at night requires a subsequent symbolic drawing of blood during the day.


The Daytime Bris Milah

The Gemara in Megillah (20a) lists Bris Milah as one of the mitzvos that must be performed during the day (and not at night). The source is from the pasuk “U’vayom ha’sh’mini yimol.”

The Hagahos Maimoniyos (Hilchos Milah 1:5) deduces from here that a bris milah that is performed at night is not valid and thus requires “hatafas dam bris,” a symbolic drawing of blood, during the day.

II. Too Early

The Rosh (Shabbos 19:5) rules that a child who is circumcised before the eighth day does need hatafas dam bris.

Likewise, the Rashba (cited in the Beis Yosef, Yoreh Dei’ah 264) ruled that in a case where a bris milah needs to be performed before the eighth day (i.e., for medical reasons), it can be performed even by a non-Jew, as this circumcision is not a halachic bris.

The Beis Yosef (Yoreh Dei’ah 262) proves from the Rosh and Rashba that where a bris is performed at night, hatafas dam bris is not necessary, against the ruling of the Hagahos Maimoniyos.

III. The Rama’s Split

Notably, the Darchei Moshe (ibid) disagrees with the Beis Yosef’s extension; perhaps a bris milah at night is worse than a milah before the eighth day, and thus a bris milah at night requires hatafas dam bris while a milah before the eighth day does not.

Indeed, this is how the Darchei Moshe rules in the Rama (Yoreh Dei’ah 262:1): that a milah at night needs hatafas dam bris, while a milah before the eighth day does not. [Note, though, that the Vilna Gaon (264:10) points out a contradiction in the Rama, as the Rama later (264:1) holds that a bris milah performed before the eighth day is not a bris.]

IV. The Shach’s Question

The Shach (ibid), however, questions the split of the Rama based on a Gemara in M’nachos, according to Rashi’s interpretation. The Gemara in M’nachos (72a) cites the opinion of Rabbi Elazar ben Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai who holds that the omer may be harvested on Shabbos, as it cannot be harvested on Erev Shabbos before the proper time. Rashi compares the p’sul of before the proper time to the p’sul of night.

The Shach thus concludes that whether a bris milah is performed before the eighth day or whether it is performed at night, both require hatafas dam bris, like the ruling of the Beis Yosef. [Note that this is the ruling of the Bach and Taz as well, but they appear to rule this way based on a chumra and not a fundamental law as per the Shach.] The ruling of the Shach is followed by most poskim, including the Chochmas Adam (149:2) and the Aruch HaShulchan (Yoreh Dei’ah 262:5).

V. Rav Zilberstein’s Query

Rav Yitzchok Zilberstein (Chashukei Chemed, Y’vamos 34a) queries whether a frum doctor who knows how to perform a bris milah should circumcise a non-frum child in the hospital before the eighth day. On one hand, the child will otherwise not receive a bris milah. But on the other hand, it is before the proper time.

Rav Zilberstein posits that according to the Rama mentioned above (and others), a bris milah performed before the eighth day is valid, and even according to the Shach, if worse comes to worst, the child will require hatafas dam bris, but at least he is no longer an areil. Interestingly, Rav Zilberstein cites the opinion of the Shaagas Aryeh (53), who has an extensive discussion on the topic and concludes that while both a bris milah performed before the eighth day or at night are not valid, nevertheless, no hatafas dam bris is necessary. This is what the Rosh meant when he wrote that no hatafas dam bris is necessary – because it is too late, you botched the mitzvah. Likewise, Rav Zilberstein cites other poskim who rule that the mohel who performs a bris milah before the eighth day violates an aveirah. Nevertheless, Rav Zilberstein concludes that the doctor should perform the circumcision (with the intent for it to be a bris milah) before the eighth day.

 Next Week’s Topic: How long must you wait before performing a bris milah on a child with neonatal jaundice?

Rabbi Ephraim Glatt, Esq. is Assistant to the Rabbi at the Young Israel of Kew Gardens Hills and a practicing litigation attorney. Questions? Comments? Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.