Some friends would feel more comfortable having their newborn circumcised with a regular doctor and in a hospital setting where the environment is more sterile, maybe better pain management options and are uncomfortable hiring a mohel. Is this permissible? If so, should they look for a Jewish doctor only?


2 Answers 2


In short, you need a Jewish person to do the circumcision לכתחילה. The basis for this is Shulchan Aruch Yoreh Deah Siman 264: "Every Jew is eligible to perform circumcision, including someone who is himself uncircumcised because his brothers had dies as a result of circumcision. If an adult Jewish male is present who knows how to circumcise he takes precedence. However a non-Jew, even if circumcised, may not perform the circumcision under any instances. If, however, he did perform a circumcision there is no need to repeat it."

In Sefer Nishmat Avraham- Yoreh Deah Siman 264 this question is asked. The Shach, quoting the Beit Yosef, writes that both opinions(quoted by him) agree that if the circumcision is not done for the purpose of fulfilling the Mitzvah, or if it is done by a non-Jewish surgeon, then hatafat dam brit will be needed. However the Sha'agat Aryeh rules like those poskim who do not requite hatafat dam brit. The Meiri's(a rishon) ruling supports that of the Sha'agat Aryeh. The Meiri writes that if a non-Jew circumcised a baby there is no need (for a Jew) to circumcise him again since in any case he is no longer uncircumcised. Moreover, there is no need for hatafat dam brit either, for there is no longer a possibility that there is foreskin hidden within the atarah.

Rav Auerbach zt"l told the author of Nishmat Avraham that for a baby who had surgery, it would be best to do hatafat dam brit in order to fulfill all opinions.

If this has actually significance, please CYLOR

  • If it's done in the hospital it's almost certainly before Day Eight, in which case everyone would require a later drawing of blood -- no?
    – Shalom
    Commented Jul 22, 2013 at 2:12
  • @Shalom I will look into that and come back with an answer.
    – Bochur613
    Commented Jul 22, 2013 at 2:30
  • 1
    @Bochur613, is this assuming p'ria and m'tzitza were done, or is it even assuming a medical-style circumcision was done?
    – msh210
    Commented Jul 22, 2013 at 6:15
  • @msh210 Nishmat Abraham does not clearly answer that.
    – Bochur613
    Commented Jul 22, 2013 at 18:36
  • @Shalom, perhaps the child was (conveniently for the sake of halakha) sick and stayed in the hospital. On Day 8, he is better, and before discharge, the doctor circumcises him.
    – Ze'ev
    Commented Oct 14, 2014 at 2:32

I think the question confuses two different things

  1. the nature of the brit mila itself vs. a medical circumcision
  2. the nature of the mohel vs. a doctor and the location of a brit mila (hospital vs. home/synagogue)

So for the long-term record:

A brit mila is not the same as a medical circumcision as routinely practiced in hospitals (e.g., this source says approximately 55%-65% of all newborn boys are circumcised in the United States each year). The process of the brit mila involved a number of steps which would not be required in a medical circumcision and which are performed because of halakha - not because of any medical reasons.

The question of a doctor vs. mohel is separate. A mohel is trained in the halakhot of brit mila. Some mohelim are doctors, most are not. Most mohelim have done thousands of brit mila before, most doctors have done much fewer.

A brit mila can theoretically be performed in a hospital although most are not since the risk of complications is very low (e.g., less than one complication per 2,000 circumcisions in Israel in 2013).


  • a medical circumcision performed by a doctor (even Jewish) who is not a mohel doesn't meet the criteria of halacha - even if it might be acceptable bdi'eved (a posteriori) - CYLOR for ways to address this
  • a brit mila can be performed by any trained mohel; some mohelim are also doctors and it can be done either in a hospital, a home or a synagogue
  • Note that after World War II (in the United States) women stayed in the hospital for long enough that the bris was performed on the eighth day in the hospital (as happened to me). It was only later that they began sending the mother and baby home after a day or two. That occurred because of British studies that showed that babies born during the war (and their mothers) when they had to be sent home as soon as possible were actually healthier. Commented Feb 2, 2017 at 19:09
  • And NYC hospitals used to contract with Mohelim for that reason. (Heard from one of the Mohelim)
    – LN6595
    Commented Mar 22, 2019 at 2:56

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