The Human Side of the Story

For the week ending 7 February 2004 / 15 Shevat 5764

Lifesaving Brit Milah

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
The Color of HeavenArtscroll

"My baby is acting very strangely", the distraught new mother complained to her doctor. "He cries so much and I cant seem to calm him down."

The initial response of the doctor was to dismiss the complaint as maternal post-partum jitters. But when she came back a second time he decided to trust her maternal intuition and sent her to a hospital for a thorough examination of the infant. What the test showed vindicated her fears. A serious infection, probably beginning in the urinary tract, threatened to spread to the kidneys and spine, which could have the most serious implications. Antibiotics were administered and additional tests were made in a struggle to save the babys life.

Then came the big surprise! The physician in charge recommended to the parents that they have the child circumcised in order to facilitate his recovery. As assimilated Jews the parents had refused to give their son a brit milah despite the pressure from their traditional families to do so. Now it became a matter of lifesaving urgency and they went through with a proper brit. To their amazement there was a dramatic improvement in the childs condition following this sacred surgery. Now that he had finally "entered the Covenant of our Patriarch Avraham" he became a perfectly normal child whose experience will hopefully inspire his parents to fulfill even more mitzvot.

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