From the Desk - Anaesthetising Before a Bris
Shalom Friends! What a beautiful Shabbat we enjoyed at Beth Ora last week! We had a great turnout to mark our Kehillah Shabbat in honour of the ladies of Beth Ora. There was special participation from our younger members throughout the service including a wonderful performance from the Beth Ora Kids' Choir. At the end of the service, a selection of soulful singers sang a tribute to the ladies through an English adaptation of "A Woman of Valour"! We enjoyed a special Kiddush where each lady was presented with a rose. Last night, we enjoyed a wonderful BBQ - the first of the season! Thank you to all our volunteers who helped to make the event such a fantastic success! Tzedakah Appeal On an almost daily basis, worthy institutions from Israel, North America and around the world come to me to plead for financial assistance. Through my Torah Fund, I am able to assist these welfare and educational institutions to provide much needed assistance to Jewish communities. At this time, we need to replenish our funds in order that I can continue to support these organisations. Please consider making a checque to the Beth Ora Torah Fund. Each donation will be receipted. Wishing you all a beautiful Shabbat, Rabbi Anthony and Carly Knopf Dovid, Rachelli, Yehuda and Avrami
What's the Deal with... Anaesthetising a Baby Before a Bris? Prior to the mid-1980s, anesthesia was not used because the medical community denied that the infant felt any pain. It is now known that infants do experience pain. Mohelim have also noted that the use of anesthesia can be useful in reducing the stress and anxiety of the parents! Joe Salem asked me if anesthesia before a bris is permitted according to Halacha. I will consider this question with reference to different situations and different types of anesthesia. If a man was born Jewish, was never given a bris, and decided to have a bris on reaching adulthood, an injection of local anesthetic is administered in almost all circumstances. General anesthetic is used only in case of great need. There are those who are more lenient and allow medication that results in general anesthesia. Those authorities recommend that the injection is done elsewhere (usually the spine). This temporarily removes all sensation of pain but does not put the patient to sleep and he remains in full possession of all his faculties. If an adult converts to Judaism, halachic authorities generally do not permit general anesthesia but permit local anesthesia. Babies are not put under general anesthesia for the bris because this would present unnecessary risks. In addition, there are halachic issues regarding a bris performed under general anesthesia. Some halachic authorities do not even permit using local anesthesia for babies. For example, Rabbi Shmuel Wosner (1913-2015, Israel) wrote that, absent great need, one should not tamper with the traditional character of the bris wihch includes experiencing pain. However, other major halachic authorities have ruled that there is no problem with temporary anesthesia as long as it is confirmed that there are no medical risks. The contemporary kaballist, Rabbi Yaakov Hillel, confirmed that there is no problem with this from a kaballistic perspective. So for those who do apply local anesthesia, what types are used? Some apply numbing cream onto the surface of the skin. Another method is administered by injecting the anesthesia with a needle, deep into the skin, close to where the incision will be made. The baby sucks wine after the bris. I have seen claimed that studies suggest that an infant sucking on an oral sucrose solution may provide as much comfort as applying cream to the skin. Hence, the wine itself can be a potent pain relief medicine. In addition, some let the baby suck on a gauze pad soaked in concentrated sugar water before the bris and then let him suck on a pad dipped in sweet wine or grape juice after the bris.