I learned that attending a bris milah is a great mitzvah that enables one to have all his sins forgiven, and it is a eis ratzon to daven when the baby is crying. Therefore, whenever I hear that there will be a bris, I make an effort to attend even if I have no relationship to the family that is making the bris. However, some people have told me that I should not go to random bris milas when I have no relationship to the family. Am I doing a mitzvah by going to a bris milah, davening when the baby is crying, and partaking of the seudas mitzvah, or should I avoid going unless I have some relationship to the baal simcha?
It is true, that going to a bris is a big zechus, because Eliyahu Hanavi is there, and because it is an es ratzon. Therefore there shouldn’t be any problem per se with going to a bris even if you don’t know the baal simcha. It is hard to understand why people would say that you should not go to attend these brisim. Taking part in the meal of the bris however is a different story. If the baal simcha would not want you to take up a seat, then you are not allowed to, however if there is something small like cookies etc. and you take a very small amount, or nothing at all, I don’t see why there shiould be any issue with you being present when the bris is performed.
As a side point, I know that one of the ziknei Yerushalayim, (R’ Zaidel Epstein zt”l) used to go to any bris that he knew of. When he was asked why he did this, he replied, “Eliyahu Hanavi is in the area and I shouldn’t go”. (As a side point there was once a bris, of a talmid of his, and the grandfather of the baby was very late and they couldn’t wait for him. When the grandfather finally came and saw that they made the bris without him he was very upset. R’ Zaidel went to the grandfather to talk to him. During the conversation he told him “you should just know that Eliyahu Hanavi was here at the bris, I saw him!” This story was said by the father of the baby at the shiva of R’ Zaidel zt”l). However he stopped this practice when one day someone approached him and told him, “you are taking away the kibbudim from other people, because when you come to the bris, the baal simcha wants to give you a kavod, and that takes away from the other people”. When he heard this, he immediately stopped going to random brisim.
In America the minhag is to provide “doggie bags” so that people can take something home from the seuda. If I see that there is plenty of food for everyone, and the baal simcha even provided the doggie bags so that people can take home the food that is left over after the seuda for their wives, etc. seemingly there should not be an issue for me to eat there, even if I am a stranger?
Maybe the rav is writing from an Israeli perspective, but at all the bris milahs I have been to in America, there is plenty of food for everyone, and plenty leftover afterwards.
True. The “doggie bags” are provided essentially for the people that were invited to the bris, and in American society, where many people are in a rush and don’t actually stay for the meal, these bags are an essential part of the bris seuda. However the host may not really want random people coming in and walking off with “doggie bags”. It is possible that he really doesn’t mind, but on the other hand he might mind, and if he does, then it is genieva for you to take from it.
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