- Question: [Sunday, 19th Adar 1, 5782]
Is it permitted for the father of the child to be the Sandek for his own child rather than honor another individual? Is it praiseworthy for him to do so?
Yes. It is both permitted, and praiseworthy and even customary, for a father to be the Sandek for [one of] his son’s Bris. Some even learn that it is commensurate to him being the actual Mohel, and fulfills the Mitzvah of personally circumcising his son. [When the father is the Sandek, he says the blessing of Lehachniso while sitting.] However, this should only be done if none of the grandfathers will be offended in not receiving the honor, such as if they will not be present by the Bris, or have already been the Sandek of one of his previous sons, in which case we do not honor him twice. Regarding whether a father may be a Sandek more than once for his sons, although some Poskim argue for allowance, practically the custom is not to do so, and hence a father can merit himself one time to be the Sandek of one of his sons.
Explanation: Although it is customary for the father to honor the child’s grandfather or distinguished individual to be the Sandek, there is no issue whatsoever for the father of the child to be the Sandek of his son, at least for one of his sons, and so is customary of many, and so is evident from all the Poskim who discuss the question of whether the father may be Sandek for more than one of his sons. Furthermore, some Poskim explicitly encourage the father to be the Sandek, and for him to take this honor to himself in order so he merit its greatness which is compared to offering the Ketores incense. Furthermore, some Poskim even rule that it is better that the father be the Sandek than to be the Mohel, even if he is a professional Mohel, in order to merit the greatness of the Sandakaus, which the Poskim rule is even greater than the position of Mohel. Furthermore, they state that when the Sandek holds the child and positions him in a way for the circumcision to take place, then he is considered as an assistant to the Mohel, and hence although it is initially proper for the father to be the Mohel if he knows to do so, if he is the Sandek, it is considered as if he is also actively performing the Milah.
Sources: See regarding that the father of the child may and is even encouraged to be the Sandek: Implication of Leket Yosher p. 52; Pela Yoeitz Erech Mila “It is proper for the father of the child to be the Sandek, as he is like an altar to offer his son as a Karban, and it atones for him”; Sheilas Yaavetz 1:74; Chasam sofer O.C. 158 [as is evident from his discussion regarding father doing twice]; Shivim Temarim on Tzavah Os 40; Rav Poalim Y.D. 2:35 in length that it is even better for him to be the Sandek then to be the Mohel even if he knows how to do Milah, and that if he holds the childs thighs down and helps the Mohel do the Mila, then he himself is considered like the Mohel, as Misayeia Keoseh;; Divrei Malkiel 4:86; Otzer Habris Vol. 1 Chapter 3 14:3 [p.197]; Igros Kodesh 12:444; Shevet Hakehasi 10:343; Pesakim Uteshuvos 265:30 footnote 269; Shevach Habris 17:6; See Teshuvos Vehanhagos 6:192 See in general regarding the position of Sandek: Rama Y.D. 265:11; Or Zarua 2:107; Yalkut Shimoni Tehillim 35:6; Maharil Hilchos Mila in name of Midrash Socher Tov; See regarding that the Sandek is even greater than the Mohel: Rama Y.D. 265:11 “The power of the Sandek is even greater than that of the Mohel, and he hence is to receive precedence to the Torah”; Maharil ibid; Chasam Sofer O.C. 159; Eretz Tzevi 1 Hashmatoz p. 293; See regarding Misayeiea Keilu Asa Maaseh: Admur 328:3 and 21 and 340:2; Chacham Tzevi 82; See regarding even father not being a Sandek twice for his sons: Chasam Sofer O.C. 158 [that so is the custom, although he questions this on the basis that a Kohen may withhold his Matnaos for himself]; Igros Kodesh 12:444 [in answer to Rav Meir Avtzon a”h who wanted to be a Sandek a second time by one of his sons Mila; Shevach Habris 17:6 Lenient opinions who permit twice: Siddur Yaavetz; Shivim Temarim on Tzavah Os 40; See regarding saying blessing of Lehachniso while sitting: Pesakim Uteshuvos 265:28 footnote 253