Thursday, January 12, 2012

Is a Bris Painful?

Question of the Week:

My son is having his bris tomorrow. I am beside myself. I know I will go through with it, but the thought of giving my precious baby over to be circumcised is just terrifying for me. I am sure I am not the first mother to feel this way. So how do people get through it without breaking down?


Your fears are completely understandable. And at the same time, there is absolutely nothing to fear. Here are a few important facts to keep in mind.

A bris does not really hurt. It is only skin being cut, no muscle or flesh. The nerve endings are yet undeveloped, and so the baby has little sensitivity there. The knife used is so super sharp that the cut itself is not noticed by the baby.

Now if you have ever heard a baby squeal at a bris, you may find it hard to believe that he is in no pain. Well, let me tell you something.

I remember once, when my daughter was eight days old, I was changing her, and I noticed that she squealed the exact same excruciating high-pitched screech that a boy would give at his bris. I have since improved at changing babies. But I learnt that they cry from the cold when their nappy is removed, and scream when their legs are being held down.

Watch a circumcision closely and you will see that the boy starts crying as soon as he is exposed and restricted, but when the actual cut is performed he does not flinch. The friends and family gathered around are grimacing sympathetically while the baby cries; meanwhile the baby himself is just trying to say, "Can you wrap me up and get me warm already!" As soon as you do, he settles down.

All the above is a description of the facts. The fact is, a bris is no big deal for a baby. But it is a big deal for a mother, because facts don't always speak to emotions. Who can imagine the feeling of a new mother, sleep-deprived and hormonal from childbirth, giving over her sweet little baby to be circumcised? The Holy Zohar compares it to placing your child on an altar to be sacrificed. While in fact a bris is nothing like that - you get your baby back intact at the end - the feelings are similar.

This is the heroism of our Jewish mothers. For four thousand years, they have been tearfully giving their babies to be circumcised, then celebrating by eating bagels and lox. It is not always easy. But it may be a little easier for you to know that the hard bit is being the mother, not the baby. As usual.

Good Shabbos,
Rabbi Moss

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Celebrate your Bat Mitzvah with JEM'S and Nefesh


Course Details

  • The course will run for 14 weeks on a Sunday morning over the course of term 1 and 2 of 2012.
  • The first lesson will be on Sunday February 12th.
  • The regular lessons will run from 9:30-10:45, with the hands on lessons and the excursion lessons going a little longer, a detailed schedule will be sent out at the end of January.
  • The course will incorporate 10 hands-on and interactive lessons Plus a Chesed hospital visit, a tour of the Mikvah, Challah baking, Ceramic candle stick making, Shabbat lunch etc.
  • At each lesson the girls will decorate a scrapbook that will remain as their memento of their Bat Mitzvah for their entire life.
  • Additional course details and syllabus available upon request.
  • A sample scrapbook with pictures of each class can be seen upon request


Dvar Torah Preparation


  • 3-4 private lessons will be scheduled at a mutually convenient time to prepare the Dvar Torah and speech.
  • Each child will be guided in writing their Dvar Torah / speech on a topic of their choice, with the focus to having each child create a very personal and meaningful speech.
  • An orientation lesson will be scheduled with both mother and daughter present to plan out and discuss the Dvar Torah.


Ceremony or Shul Service Options

A) At your home, can be as a Sunday brunch, Friday night dinner etc. with family and friends. We are happy to officiate provided it is a Kosher event

B) At your function, provided it is a Kosher event we are happy to officiate.

C) At Nefesh, at a Shabbat candle lighting service prior to the Friday night service (depending on the time of year) or on a Sunday or weeknight

D) As a group Bat Mitzvah, if there are interested families we are happy to work together and help facilitate it.

E) There are many more creative options we can discuss to help make a meaningful experience where the focus is on the Bat Mitzvah girl.

Please consult with us before finalising any of the above arrangements.




The following costs apply to each component:

Course (14+ sessions) $360
Craft levy for course participants $100
Dvar Torah Preparation (3-4 private sessions) $200

Course and Dvar Torah combined (i.e. discounted) rate $500 plus $100 craft levy

If there are more than 8 children signed up each family will receive a $100 discount.

Shul costs vary depending on venue and timing.

If you have financial difficulties please contact Rabbi Yossi privately and he will arrange a confidential subsidy.

Please register for the course by clicking here and filling out all the required information.

Contact Rivky on 0450-524-770 or Rabbi Yossi on 0450-524-770 with any queries, or email

Marriage Preparation Course at Nefesh



- Jewish wisdom on relationships

- The meaning behind the wedding ceremony

- The Power of the Mikvah

- Spiritual guide to love and marriage

- A deeper look at men and women


Three Tuesday nights, January 31st, February 7th and 14th

8:00 - 9:30pm at 128 Wellington St Bondi.


Course cost: $150 per couple (free for Nefesh members), includes separate Mikvah class for brides


To register please click HERE or email

NEFESH SERVICES - 54 Roscoe St Bondi Beach 



Friday night

Candlelighting 7:52pm (not before 6:41pm)


Mincha 6:10pm


Shabbos Service 6:30pm followed by Kiddush sponsored by Lilach and Nicholas Weininger in memory of Lilach's uncle, Meir Katan, who passed away last week in Israel- Long Life.


Shabbos day

9am Class on Weekly Parsha

10am -12:15pm Morning Service with Kids' program followed by Kiddush sponsored by Moshe David in honour of the yarzeit of his mother Flora David z'l- Long Life.


Mincha 7:50pm followed by Seudah Shlishis and Maariv

Shabbos ends 8:52pm



8am Shachris followed by breakfast and beginners' Talmud 9:00-9:45am


Monday and Thursday

Shachris 7am followed by Chassidus 8:00am - 8:45am 

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