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Can an adult or even a baby be given anesthesia for a bris milah, or do we say that the person needs to be awake for the mitzvah?

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    Are you asking about general or local anaesthetic? – Double AA Nov 29 '16 at 4:08
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    When OP says "awake" it is clear that general anesthesia is meant. A practical medical answer is that general anesthesia carries some small but significant risk to life, and one must endure pain rather than risk one's life if that is an option. Particularly, anybody even thinking of giving a baby general anesthesia for no compelling medical reason is very wrong. – Mark Fischler Nov 29 '16 at 4:27
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    Why do you think the baby must be awake? Are you concerned that the baby must be awake? Concerned with the danger of general anesthesia? Something else? – mevaqesh Nov 29 '16 at 5:45
  • Can you explain your chakira, if the mitsva is to be mahul? if the mitsva is to make ownself the mila? For the baby the mitsva is for the father, so, the question is about anesthesying the father? For an adult person, he make mila generally with a shaliach. Are you asking if shlichut is good when the meshaleach is anesthesied? – kouty Nov 29 '16 at 7:46
  • Most babies that I have seen are sleeping until just prior to the brit (the physical part that, I guess, hurts.) A few, interestingly, don't wake up at all, but that's quiet rare. I'll se if I can ask a mohel about this. Practically, though, I don't think that a mohel is medically certified to do general anesthesia, anyway. – DanF Nov 29 '16 at 14:42
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If you are speaking of general anesthesia, R Moshe Chaim Friedman answers here for babies

General anesthesia, which is putting the baby to sleep for the b’ris, is simply not done, because virtually all practitioners would agree that it is not worth taking the greater risk of general anesthesia for such a simple procedure.

For children younger than 13 (but not babies), YNet here report that the Ezrat Achim-Brit Yosef organization performs them under general anesthesia or sedation (and their website says the same).

For adults and children above 13, R Avraham Kadoch (who runs WorldBrit, performed hundreds of adult brit milot and wrote a book in French on the topic) writes that they perform these brit milot under local anesthesia for three reasons

  1. the risk of a general anesthesia makes it prohibited to endanger oneself without reason

  2. SA OC 60:4 writes that mitzvot require intention (kavana)

  3. anyone over 13 needs to recite himself the blessings on the mila and would lose this merit

Exceptions are people who would not agree to a brit unless under general anesthesia.

Nishmat Avraham (vol 2, pp. 189-190), for older children and adults, lists poskim who forbid local anesthesia (Imrei Yosher), who permit local but forbid general anesthesia (Sridei Eish, Shevet Halevi) and who permit general anesthesia (Maharsham, Yabia Omer). R Shlomo Zalman Auerbach and R Eliashiv also permitted.

Local anesthesia for babies is also generally permitted and many mohalim report using it (e.g., here and here) but this is not universal (R Avraham Kadoch writes against it and so does this Chabad article).

  • The Chabad article just says "anesthesia", it's not clear whether they mean local or global. And whatever they're talking about, the only reasons they mention not to use it are medical. Which is noteworthy, because Chabad of all people would be very likely to mention any al pi kabbalah reasons not to use anesthesia if they exist. – Heshy Feb 3 at 15:16

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