The Parent's Comprehensive Guide to Bris Milah
Rabbi Shlomo Golish
The Week Before the Bris
Here is what you need to know in the days leading up to the Bris:
Hopefully, you have already booked a Mohel, a Simcha Hall, and a Caterer. You have also planned out your Shalom Zachor. If you haven't done these things yet, make sure you read this page first.
A note about Aliyos: On the Shabbos before the Bris, the father should get an Aliyah. If there is Krias HaTorah on the day of the Bris, he should get an Aliyah as well. Both times, the Gabbai should make a MiSheberach for a Yoledes.
About the Checkup: In the days leading up to the Bris, the Mohel will come check the baby. (This depends on the Mohel - See Choosing a Mohel) There is no exact time for the Mohel to come. He could come anywhere from a few days after birth to the night before the Bris.
To understand what the Checkup is all about, see my section: The Checkup. It contains important information about jaundice (yellow) and eye infections, including treatment.
The Mohel will also give you a list of Kibbudim for the Bris. They are, in order:
כסא של אליהו
Kvatter is generally given to a married couple. It is a Segulah to have children, and therefore many people give Kvatter to a couple who have not had children yet. If the couple are assur to each other, they cannot be Kvatter, so the most tactful way of asking someone is just making a phonecall to them telling them you would be honored if they would serve as Kvatter, and telling them to get back to you. They will call you back soon and let you know.
The other Kibbudim, in order of Chashivus, generally go as follows:
כסא של אליהו
If this is your first boy, the Minhag is to give סנדקאות to your father, if he is there. If he is not there, or if it is your second boy, the Minhag is to give סנדקאות to your father-in-law. This is all even if your Rebbe or Rosh HaYeshiva will be attending.
By the checkup, the Mohel will tell you to bring a list of items to the Bris. Depending on the Mohel, the list will look something like this:
3 Cloth Diapers
4 Regular Diapers
Package of Baby Wipes
Novimol (Infant Tylenol)
Make sure to buy and bring all the items he tells you to bring. You will also need a Bris outfit for the baby. Most people borrow the Bris outfit and Bris Pillow from a Gemach. For a list of Gemachim, see my section: Halls, Caterers and Gemachim. Cloth diapers are available in every store which sells baby clothes. Novimol is a liquid Tylenol for infants which is more gentle for the baby than regular kids Tylenol. Some Mohelim will administer it before the Bris, and others will give it after the Bris is over.
The Mohel will also instruct you to finish feeding the baby some time before the Bris. Usually around 1.5 hours before the Bris.
Decide what you will be naming the baby. Waiting until the last minute can create very stressful situations. For a list of popular boy names, click here.
Speech for the Bris
While not mandatory, most fathers prepare a speech for the Bris. Many prepare a Shtickel Torah relating to Bris Milah, and many prepare something on the Sugya they are learning in Yeshiva or Kollel. But it is fine to say something simple as well. Usually those who speak say some Divrei Hodaah as well. Either way, if you plan on speaking, you should start preparing now.
On the night before the Bris, there will be a Krias Shema or a Vacht Nacht. See my section: The Night Before the Bris. You will want some children to come say Krias Shema. It is important not to wait until the night before the Bris to prepare for this. You should arrange for some children to come beforehand. You should also buy Pekalach or some treats for the children. Calling around to find children and buying treats is not something you want to have on your head the night before the Bris.