By Rabbi Berach Steinfeld
If Reuven has a seder kavua of learning in the morning may he be mevatel Torah to attend a bris milah? “Aseh docheh Lo Saseh” is a concept that we learn in the gemara in Yevamos, daf heh, amud bais. The gemara adds to this that one cannot learn “Aseh docheh Lo Saseh that has kareis” from the fact that bris milah is doche Shabbos because the mitzvah of “bris” is different. The Torah speaks about bris thirteen times. That is why is has a special ruling and is docheh Shabbos. The question arises; why does a bris that is not “bizmano” (on time) not docheh Shabbos?
The Shiltei Giborimin, Meseches Megillah, daf bais, amud bais in the dafim of the Rif says that one is mevatel Talmud Torah for a bris. A bris is greater than levayas hameis in the event that there are other people to bury him. The halacha is that we are mevatel Talmud Torah for burying a meis, so of course we should be mevatel for a bris.
Reb Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, in his he’aros on sefer Otzar Habris in Chelek Alef, siman yud alef, halacha gimmel asks why don’t we find this concept in Shulchan Aruch that one should be mevatel Talmud Torah for a bris?
The Shailos Utshuvos Even Yisroel, chelek zayin, siman lamed vov, seif koton ches answers that the above shita of the Shiltei Giborim is hard to understand. There is a difference between going to a levaya and going to a bris. When one goes to a levaya, each person at the levaya is doing a maaseh mitzva of escorting the meis; therefore there is a din that one should be mevatel Torah for a levaya. On the other hand, when one goes to a bris, it is not as if every person attending is osek in the mitzva of bris. The attendees are helping the mitzva to be done “b’rov am hadras melech.” For this concept we don’t find the ruling set that one should be mevatel Torah in order to have a greater b’rov am. The din for the father of the baby and the mohel, who are actually doing the mitzva, is that they should be mevatel Torah in order to do the mitzva.
Rav Shternbuch in Teshuvos Vehanhugos, chelek daled, siman resh chof vov writes that one should not be mevatel Torah for a bris unless it will be noticed that he did not come and disturb the baalei simcha. Rav Shternbuch brings a raya from the Leket Yosher, amud chof ches; when his bachurim wanted to attend a bris he asked them what they would be doing at the bris. If the answer is that they will be going in order to answer amein to the brachos, then they are better off going to a house of slaughter because there one can hear many more brachos. We see from the above that it is better not to be mevatel Torah in order to just attend a bris.
Regarding our second question about why a bris that is not on time is not docheh Shabbos, one can answer it in two ways. The first answer could be based on the Kovetz Hearos, siman zayin, seif koton gimmel that since it is not bizmano, one can do the mitzva the next day just as well as today. Therefore, it would not be docheh Shabbos. However, in the event where the bris is bizmano, then by not doing it on Shabbos one is being mevatel the mitzvas asseh of making a bris on the eighth day.
The second answer is based on the Maharsha in Nedarim, daf lamed alef, amud bais that the Torah wrote bris thirteen times only by a bris bizmono hereby making it a special covenant; but in the case of a bris that is not bizmano there are no thirteen brisos and therefore it would not be docheh Shabbos.
Let us remember that we are Hashem’s chosen nation and therefore we must do what is right at all times.