Re: bris for a mamzer

"mm" <NOPSAMmm2005@xxxxxxxxxxx> wrote in message
A woman I met said that before her son's bris, the moyl insisted on
seeing her get from her first husband, saying, according to the
woman's recollection, that he couldn't do a bris on a mamzer.

What did he likely say to her that she could have interpreted or
remembered this way?
I just love playing "Speculation" on SCJM. As another poster wrote, it's
always so much fun to have a thread with hundreds of posts, all trying to
figure out what was running through the minds of people we don't know and
aren't here. That having been said...

It's like the old game of telephone...when a story is passed down, it gets
passed down the way the person remembers/understood it through his own
mental lens and does not necessarily reflect what was actually said or what
was the meaning. I suspect the woman produced the get, and the baby was not
a mamzer, and the mohel did the bris, so the woman really doesn't
know/understand what the mohel would have said/done had the baby been a

My suspicion is that the mohel was attempting to determine whether or not
the mother of the baby was halachically Jewish, and this was one way of
doing so. (A non-Jewish woman would not have been presented with a get by an
O beis din). Maybe. I didn't know that the bris of a mamzer was any
different from the bris of a non-mamzer, so if it is, maybe someone can
enlighten me with the halacha.

Once upon a time (this is a story I have told before on this forum), I was
at the bris of a baby born to a woman who had converted Conservative during
her pregnancy. The mohel was Orthodox. As far as the baby's parents were
concerned, this was a standard bris. When the mohel got to their house, he
told them(matter-of-factly and in passing) that during the bris, he was
going to tweak the wording just a bit because [citation of mom's words],
"someday somebody may come along and question whether or not the baby was
really Jewish at the time of the bris, and he [the rabbi] wanted to make
sure the bris wasn't in question." The woman found this statement mildly
confused but just said "okay" and didn't pursue the issue. She thought maybe
it was because she had already been pregnant at the time of her conversion.

In retrospect, it's easy to see what was really going on. As far as the
mohel was concerned, he was being asked to perform a bris milah on a
non-Jewish child (because in his eyes, the mother's conversion wasn't
valid). So, he did a "bris l'shem gerus," (a bris in the name of
conversion). (As a point of information, in order for the child's conversion
to be recognized in an O rabbinical court, he would have to immerse in the
mikveh - a bris l'shem gerus does not effect a conversion in and of itself).
But mom and dad didn't know the difference. Their only concern was that the
baby had a bris. The guests ate the herring and tuna salad. Everyone was

Several years later, the entire family converted O and became Lubavitcher
chassidim. By that time, mom and dad understood what the mohel had done and
what he meant and why he had done it that way. But had the family remained
C, the mother would still have been walking around telling the story about
the O mohel "who changed the wording of [her] son's bris so that no one
would question whether or not her son was really Jewish."
Best regards,
---Cindy S.