Why does an infant baby boy who dies before he can be circumcised have a circumcision performed after death? If, as the article states it is to prepare the body for the next world why is this ritual not performed on any Jewish male who dies without circumcision? It is my experiencing working in the chevra kadisha that this was not done.

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    It is forbidden to defile a dead body. However since since the case of a baby (and not anyone else) is discussed in the Gemorah,medrish,poskim and the fact it became a custom in all communities we do it. mohelinsouthflorida.com/2011/07/…
    – eramm
    Mar 6, 2013 at 19:05
  • Perhaps it is assumed that an uncircumcised adult is because he is "patur" (haemophilia causing previous brothers to die after brit milah) and to think otherwise would label him as "mazid sinner", and his parents also. Just a thought - no sources.
    – Epicentre
    Mar 7, 2013 at 5:59
  • Are there any sources for this being performed amongst Sephardim?
    – Aaron
    Jun 10, 2016 at 20:48
  • I currently get a "No Site Detected" page on Pantheon for the article linked in the question. The closest I could find on the gta.org site is "When a Jewish infant dies". Is this meant to be it? (Or, should te link be edited out?)
    – Tamir Evan
    Apr 20, 2021 at 1:52

2 Answers 2


The halacha to circumcise and name a newborn baby boy who has died before his bris milah is brought down in the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch at 163:7:

An infant who died before he was circumcised -- whether within eight days or afterward -- we circumcise him before burial to remove from him his shame, so that he should not be buried with his foreskin intact, since it is a shameful thing for him. However, we do not recite a blessing over the circumcision, but we do give him a name by which to be remembered so that they will have mercy on him from Heaven and he will be revived at the Revivification of the Dead, and he will have the understanding to recognize his father and mother at that time.

The circumcision is not a fulfillment of the mitzvah of bris milah, but is performed only to avoid burial of the child in the "shameful" state of being uncircumcised. See Beur HaGra 263:10. The Kitzur goes on to say that this circumcision is so important that if the baby was buried without doing the circumcision first, and they remembered right after the burial, they should reopen the grave and do it right away. If a few days have passed and decomposition is probable, then they do not do it. K.S.A. 163:7.

Based on the language "within eight days or afterwards" and the references to "shame" I would imagine that an older boy or man, who could not be circumcised because of medical reasons, but would have otherwise, then this law would also apply. As for someone who grew into an adult, and knew about the laws of circumcision, but still did not have it done, I'm not sure this would apply. CYLOR.

  • +1 of note, although Tur & Beis Yosef bring this minhag in the name of many Gaonim, rashi in tshuva #40 called it a minhag nashim. He says the medrash in Vayeira #48 implies children who died before mila still had their arlos on them. Or Zarua in hilchos mila #104 made the same observation.
    – user6591
    Feb 21, 2017 at 13:47

I have written about both of these issues (stillborn and uncircumcised adult). The stillborn practice is a custom that really depends on the feelings of the parents: they could choose to, or they could choose not to. See here.

While it is true that some adult Jews who went uncircumcised may have been exempt because of hemophilia, this is not common. More often it was either neglected by assimilated parents, or, as in the case here, a result of Communist Russian oppression. The man in this case wants to be circumcised. He should leave instructions for the chevra kadisha to take care of it for him.

  • Welcome to Mi Yodeya Avi. Thanks for the answer.
    – mevaqesh
    Jun 10, 2016 at 20:29

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