We now present part two of my article about why brissin are easily one of the least stressful simchas to make.
If you missed last week’s article, that’s okay, because that’s one thing about brissin: As a guest, you can show up incredibly late—like on time for bentching—and people are just happy you tried. They’re like, “Here! Take the leftovers!” They don’t do that at a wedding. If you show up two hours late to a wedding, no one says, “Here, wrap this plate of chicken! Take some soup! You have kids at home, right?”
No one’s really ever upset at a bris. No one says, “We told you to come two hours early for pictures; where were you?”
Also, there are very simple foods, and people love them anyway:
“Look, it’s like bread, but there’s a hole in the middle!”
It’s very exciting.
“Cream cheese! Tuna! It’s like shalosh seudos, but for breakfast!”
In fact, you know how people go out of their mind at a kiddush if there’s cholent, or at a wedding if there’s sushi or a carving station? At a bris, people are super excited if there are scrambled eggs. It doesn’t even have to be good scrambled eggs. It can be baked in a 9×13.
“This is the best!”
Imagine you show up at a chasunah and there are bagels and cream cheese. You’d say, “This is the worst! I ate fleishigs before I got here!” But a bris is in the morning, so you can be pretty sure that no one’s fleishig! And if they are, it’s kind of their fault.
What I really like is that a bris is the only simcha with suspense:
What’s the name going to be?
You do not have this kind of suspense at the other simchas:
Will they get married, or will they not? They will. They made it this far, and everyone’s already here.
What’s the kallah’s new name going to be? It was on the invitation.
But here, it’s like, “What is the name going to be?” And the parents don’t tell anybody. It has to be a closely-guarded secret. They don’t even tell the person making the bracha until he’s right in the middle of the bracha. They won’t even tell him right before the bracha. And if the person mishears it, you just have a comical story for the baby when he gets older about why he’s had to go around correcting people his entire life.
And then there’s the excitement when everyone mishears the name. And all the women say to the mother of the baby, “What a nice name!” and your wife says, “What? That’s not what we discussed!” For example, at the bris of my son Daniel (not his real name), I actually said a different name, but all the women somehow heard Daniel. And it spread around before my wife got back to the women’s section.
I was at a bris recently where all anyone in the room actually heard was “ben Shlomo.” Is that how Ben Azzai got his name? And Ben Dreusa’i? And Ben Shapiro?
Another great thing, for the baalei simcha, is that they don’t have to make seating cards. Though it’s possible that that’s actually the main stress for the guests—that there are no seating cards. You come down after the bris, and you take your bagel, and you take your time cutting it open, and you look around, like, “Why is nobody that I know down here yet? Is there something I’m missing? Are they doing the bris again for the late minyan?”
And you take a seat, and the people who sit down at your table around you are people you don’t know who don’t realize that you’re family. They’re not family; how are they supposed to know who’s family? For all they know, you’re not either. The family as far as they know is still upstairs. So who are you?
You sat there hoping to start a family table so you could talk to your brothers. And some of your brothers are among the last to find a seat because they’re spending forever standing over the buffet making sandwiches for their kids. (“Do you want lox?” “What’s lox?” “Let’s hold up the line!”)
And now they’re finally walking around with plates and starting their own table because they looked over at you and have no idea why you’re sitting with some guy they don’t know instead of starting a family table that they can sit at with you, and you’re not making conversation with the guy you’re sitting next to because you keep glancing over at their table and trying to think of an excuse to pick up your stuff and leave.
You’re kind of hoping that your table fills up with so many non-relatives that you can get up and give someone your seat, but apparently most of the non-relatives that are coming in realize you’re related so they assume the guy next to you is related and they don’t join your table either. And the other guy maybe sat next to you thinking he would have a great time because you’re some comedian, and you haven’t said two words to him, and you are definitely still too tired to deal with this, and… Wait. I think he’s my mother’s cousin or something, isn’t he?
But besides that, brissin are easy. There are so few stresses. It’s just: Did the baby show up? Or did he not show up? And as the baal simcha, you don’t have to book a hall—you can just make it in your shul’s basement, and even if it’s not a particularly nice basement, no one cares.
If your shul has no basement, you can just daven over the table settings. Also, no one expects you to give out bentchers, unless the bris is really late. And even though you’re the boy’s parents, you don’t have to worry about flowers, liquor, an orchestra, or a photographer. Or maybe you do, but on a way smaller scale. For example, the only one who really needs liquor is the baby.
Mordechai Schmutter is a freelance writer and a humor columnist for Hamodia and other magazines. He has also published eight books and does stand-up comedy. You can contact him at [email protected].