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Bais HaVaad on the Parsha, Parshas Tazria-Metzora

Half and Half

Excerpted and adapted from a shiur by HaRav Yechiel Biberfeld

April 20, 2023


On the eighth day, the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised.

Vayikra 12:3

It happens sometimes that the father of a newborn boy wishes to perform his son’s milah himself but wants to leave the priah (pulling back of the foreskin) to the mohel. If milah and priah are done by different people, has each fulfilled part of the mitzvah or no mitzvah at all? The same question arises in other contexts, like if one person does bedikas chametz in one half of a house and another, not appointed by the first as his shaliach (proxy), searches the other half.

The Shulchan Aruch (Y.D. 266:14) rules that on Shabbos, milah and priah must be done by the same mohel, but the Rama allows one mohel do the milah and another the priah. Although the Rama concludes that one should ideally avoid this division on Shabbos, many Acharonim allow it lechat’chilah. The Mishnah Brurah (331:36) writes that it was customary in Poland to always have two mohalim perform a bris together, and it seems that our question is the subject of the above dispute: The Shulchan Aruch holds that if milah and priah are done by different people, neither mohel fulfills a mitzvah, so there is no mitzvah of bris milah here that can override Shabbos. But the Rama’s initial statement and other Acharonim maintain that one who performs half of a mitzvah has fulfilled part of the mitzvah, so the division is allowed on Shabbos.

R’ Chaim Kaufman (Mishchas Shemen, Mas’ei) offers support for the latter view from the Sforno (Devarim 4:41), who writes that Moshe designated three arei miklat in Eiver HaYardein even though they would not be operational until the arei miklat in Eretz Yisrael were established later by Yehoshua, because this was a valid partial mitzvah.

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