Circumcision Pain

Several weeks ago, I was present at synagogue for a Bris celebrated on Shabbat. Truth to tell, I'd never attended a Bris. The rabbi explained that the baby would start crying because "his diaper is being taken off and it's cold in the sanctuary." But the howling screams from this tiny child were heart-rending. Yes, the wee one went to sleep fairly quickly afterward, and the ordeal was surely forgotten by him. Though I'll never forget it!

So my question is: Wouldn’t it be better to have used some sort of anesthetic?

The Aish Rabbi Replies:

Having performed the circumcision on three of my sons, I can tell you that the skin itself is very soft, and most of the pain actually comes from the metal guide that is placed there prior to the cut.

As for your question, Jewish law does permit the use of anesthetic before a circumcision. The reason why it is usually not used is because the anesthesia is considered unhealthy for the child.

However, if the parents or Mohel prefer, then anesthetic is permitted. Of course, it is important to confirm with a doctor that this particular anesthetic poses no danger to the baby. (source: "Igrot Moshe" Y.D. 4:40)

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