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Honor Role

“What kind of mohel is this?! He needs to read a book about how to do the bris?!”


When the mother of the new baby boy asked if I would say a few words at the upcoming bris of her son, I was overjoyed.

As I’ve known the baby’s mother for many years, even before I became the rabbi of the Ahavas, this was a cause for simchah. I felt a personal connection as a friend and was relieved I could come as such and not as the rabbi.

I was not expecting any kibbud; if time permitted, I would offer divrei brachah.

I arrived at the appointed location, as the bris was taking place in a simchah hall rather than in shul following Shacharis.

The moment I walked in, I was welcomed with a warm embrace by my good friend, the noted mohel and author, Rabbi Paysach Krohn.

In his unique, effusive, and enthusiastic style, Rabbi Krohn made all who arrived feel comfortable and at home.

As we were about to begin, Rabbi Krohn noticed that many of the assembled were unfamiliar with the minhagim and procedures of the special event, so he quickly put everyone at ease by explaining some aspects of the bris. Rabbi Krohn then related the following anecdote, with a smile:

“Once while performing a bris, I was holding the ArtScroll book, Bris Milah: Circumcision — The Covenant of Abraham. Suddenly, the grandfather of the newborn screamed out to the rabbi, ‘Rabbi, what kind of mohel is this?! He needs to read a book about how to do the bris?!’

“The rabbi looked at the grandfather and answered with a smile, ‘He doesn’t have to read the book, he wrote the book!’ ”

Rabbi Krohn’s story was the perfect way to break the tension. Everyone laughed and was put at ease and in the proper frame of mind.

The bris began, and I took my place off to the side, comfortable to be a spectator like everyone else.

Rabbi Krohn and his experienced hands performed exceptionally quickly. Soon the baby was being wrapped up, and it was then I was surprised to hear Rabbi Krohn announce, “Rabbi Ron Yitzchok Eisenman is honored with naming the baby!”

I was awakened from my status as an attendee, and I quickly assumed a rabbinical stance to fulfill my new position as the one to name the baby.

Rabbi Krohn handed me “his book,” which contains the proper text for the naming, and I proceeded to name the newborn who had just entered the briso shel Avraham Avinu.

Rabbi Krohn then held the child and recited the Mi Shebeirach for the health of the child and the mother. Since he has done so thousands of times, he said it by heart.

As he said the words, I began to wonder how I’d been given the honor of naming the baby. After all, the mother had explicitly told me I would only be speaking.

It then dawned on me what had most likely transpired. Could it be that Rabbi Krohn had prevailed upon the baalei simchah to have me name the baby, to avoid even the appearance of someone slighting the rabbi?

I didn’t have to ponder the riddle too long. The proof was — literally — in the book.

As I was about to hand Rabbi Krohn back his book, it opened to a page in which there was a loose piece of paper, on which all the kibbudim for this morning’s bris were written. On the line for Krias Shem — naming the baby, was written the name Sam Goldberg, who was standing right near me.

My facial expression must have communicated to Rabbi Krohn my shock at being called up. As I handed him the book, Rabbi Krohn winked. “Even if you don’t care about it, I care about your kavod.”

And I thought he was there just to be the mohel.


(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 939)

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