Bris Milah (Circumcision) and Corona


based on the droshos of R' Moshe Sternbuch, shlita

A letter issued by a leading chareidi rov in Yerushalayim at the beginning of the Corona crisis a few months ago was brought to the attention of Rav Sternbuch. It says that following the decision by the French authorities to prohibit the performance of bris mila in France, due to the fear of being infected by the coronavirus through metziza, bris mila there should not take place until the situation improves. The opinions of local French doctors should be followed, rather than that of most doctors around the world. He added that it would be a desecration of the divine name to perform circumcisions when the authorities have prohibited it, since this would lead to complaints against the chareidi public to the effect that they have a proportionately high amount of people sick with the virus, because they show contempt for governmental regulations.

Rav Sternbuch stated that he strongly disagrees with this ruling. Firstly, even according to the opinion of those doctors who believe that metziza is dangerous in the current circumstances, it can still be performed by using a very short tube. Secondly, investigations over the past few days have revealed that the French authorities never passed such a regulation, nor did French doctors state that it was currently dangerous to perform bris mila in France. The whole decision to postpone the performance of bris mila was merely made by the French Consistoire. 

Over the past few days Rav Sternbuch contacted several rabbonim in France and instructed them to announce and publicize that bris mila should continue to be performed, and Heaven forbid that this mitzvah, which is the foundation of the Torah and in respect of which thirteen covenants were made with Hashem, should be cancelled, even temporarily. Moreover, by postponing a bris, in the case of the less observant some boys may end up not being circumcised at all.

Rav Sternbuch added that he heard from the Brisker Rov that when a plague (tuberculosis) was raging in Brisk, and the doctors said that a mohel and the baby would be likely to infect each other, his father, Rav Chaim, permitted metziza to be performed with a very short tube, because he held that that was the equivalent of the mohel himself performing metziza. However, this only applies when it has been proved that the danger is tangible and prevalent (shachiach hezeka), because then the possuk “he who performs a commandment will know no harm” does not apply, and the specific situation of each country has to be determined to establish whether there is a situation of shachiach hezeka. In any case, it is clear that the mitzvah of performing bris mila on time cannot be cancelled.


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