For Jews, circumcision is mandatory, as it is prescribed in the Torah:
- In the Book of Genesis as a mark of the Covenant between God and the descendants of Abraham: "Throughout all generations, every male shall be circumcised when he is eight days old...This shall be my covenant in your flesh, an eternal covenant. The uncircumcised male whose foreskin has not been circumcised, shall have his soul cut off from his people; he has broken my Covenant" (Genesis 17:1-14), and
- In Leviticus: "God spoke to Moses, telling him to speak to the Israelites: When a woman conceives and gives birth to a boy...And on the eighth day, the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised." (Leviticus 12:1-3).
Biblically, the infant's father (avi haben) is commanded to perform the circumcision himself. However, as most fathers are not comfortable or do not have the training, they designate a mohel as a delegate. The mohel is specially trained and a specialist in circumcisions and the rituals surrounding the procedure. Many mohelim are doctors or rabbis (and some are even both) or cantors. However, all are required to receive appropriate training both from the religious and medical fields.
Traditionally, the mohel uses a knife and not a scissor to circumcise the newborn; glass was never used. Today, doctors and some non-Orthodox mohalim use a clamp before they cut the skin. The clamp makes it easier to be precise and shortens the recovery time. However, Orthodox mohalim have rejected the clamp arguing that by crushing and killing the skin it causes a great amount of unnecessary pain to the newborn. More importantly, the clamp cuts off the blood flow completely, which according to Jewish law is dangerous to the child and strictly forbidden.
Conservative Movement also certifies mohelot (female
mohelet.) While Orthodox Judaism does not specifically
prohibit a female mohel, there are many other halakhot that
make a female mohelet more than acceptably complicated.
Therefore, the Orthodox stay more traditional and only allow