Appointing a mohel and humility
זאת בריתי אשר תשמרו ביני וביניכם ובין זרעך אחריך המול לכם כל-זכר
This is my covenant that you are to observe between Me and you and your offspring that follow you: circumcise all boys
The Torah places a mitzvah on the father to give his son a bris milah. However, very often is the case that the father doesn’t know how, and he appoints a mohel to do the mitzvah for him. Seemingly, the mohel is acting as the father’s shliach, his agent. Some even explicitly appoint the mohel as their shliach. However, this isn’t so simple. Some are of the opinion that a person who can perform milah themself isn’t allowed to appoint another to do it for them. Seemingly, they hold that shlichus, agency, doesn’t work for the mitzvah of milah. Where do they know this from?
There’s a halacha that if someone “steals” a mitzvah from you, they are obligated to pay you ten gold coins. The Rosh brings a case where this happened. Someone appointed another to give their son a bris milah, and a third person came and did it first. This case was different though and the person who stole the mitzvah from the mohel was exempt from paying him, for various reasons. However, the Rosh never discusses why the perpetrator didn’t have to pay the father ten gold coins. Since this perpetrator wasn’t the father’s shliach (the mohel was), when he performed the milah, the father didn’t fulfill his mitzvah! It must be that the father forfeited his mitzvah anyways when he appointed someone else to do it. Therefore, there was no loss incurred when this third person snatched the mitzvah.
What’s hard to understand is why is milah different than any other mitzvah? We have a rule that שלוחו של אדם כמותו, a person’s agent is like himself. This applies to many mitzvos. Why wouldn’t it apply to milah? A possible explanation is based on the fact that shlichus doesn’t work on a מצוה שבגופו, a mitzvah that applies to a person’s body. I can’t appoint another to sit in a sukkah for me, nor can I have them put on tefillin for me. We see shlichus works for things like kiddushin, gerushin, separating terumos and maaseros. We can say that milah is a mitzvah that is incumbent upon the father’s body, to perform the milah on their son. Therefore, shlichus wouldn’t work.
A problem with all of this is that those that forbid having another perform milah only indicate it’s a problem if the father himself knows how to perform milah. How could the explanation be that there’s no such thing as shlichus for milah? It would seem that if the father doesn’t know how to do it, it’s perfectly fine to appoint another. If shilchus isn’t possible for milah, why would this differentiation exist? It should either always work, or never work.
In fact, perhaps all these opinions simply mean is that it’s better for a father who can do to it himself, and that’s why they are not permitted to appoint another. There’s a rule of מצוה בו יותר מבשלוחו, a mitzvah is better performed by oneself than through a shliach. This is because a person earns more reward by toiling themselves in the mitzvah, instead of having someone else fulfill it. Alternatively, it’s showing more honor to the mitzvah to do it oneself . But if they appoint another, it would work.
Perhaps there’s another reason to explain why a person who can perform milah shouldn’t appoint another to do it for them. What these opinions meant is that honoring another person with the mitzvah, without appointing them as a shliach, is a problem. Doing it this way, the father never actually fulfilled the mitzvah. However, if they explicitly appoint another as a shliach, it would be fine. The problem is that why should I need to explicitly appoint them as my shliach? By honoring another with the mitzvah, isn’t it obvious that I’m making them my shliach? Shlichus by definition is another doing something because I asked them to.
Further, who says I need to physically do the milah myself, such that I would need to invoke shlichus to have someone else do it for me? In fact, some are of the opinion that a father’s sole obligation is to see to it that their son has a bris milah. If the father hires someone else to do it, they’ve fulfilled their obligation, even without shlichus. According to this opinion, there should be no problem having another person perform the milah, even if the father could do it himself. The goal is to have the boy have a milah, and that was accomplished. It doesn’t matter who does it.
Finally, perhaps there’s another explanation for the Rosh. Why didn’t he discuss if the person that snatched the mitzvah of milah from the mohel owes the father of the baby ten gold coins? Those that forbid appointing another for milah proved their opinion from here, and say that since the father shouldn’t have appointed another, he nullified his mitzvah and lost the right to the ten gold coins. However, Rav Asher Weiss wants to explain the Rosh using a unique opinion.
There is no concept of shlichus for segulah, only for dinim. Meaning, a person appoints a shliach, and gives him the power to effect kiddushin, geirushin, or any type of chalos. The shliach could even fulfill the person’s obligation for them. But the spiritual effects of the mitzvah, the tahara, and the sechar, all go to the shliach. At the end of the day, he performed the mitzvah, not the one who appointed the shliach. The latter just fulfills his obligation through the shliach, no more. Thus, the ten gold coins goes solely to the shliach, as it is his mitzvah. The father had no claim against the perpetrator, so the Rosh didn’t discuss him.
The Torah says לא בשמים הוא, it is not in the Heavens, that we would say: מי יעלה-לנו השמימה, Who will take us up to Heaven, ויקחה לנו, and take it for us? Some say this is referring to the Torah. Chazal interpret this verse to be telling us that the Torah is not found in someone who’s ego is so inflated that it’s as if they’re up in the heavens. As well, some point out that the first letters of מי יעלה לנו השמימה spell out מילה. What’s the significance of this?
The gemarra originally thought to say that a person could have a very tiny amount of haughtiness. The amount described was an eighth of an eighth of haughtiness. Why specifically this amount? A possible explanation is it’s referring to becoming proud of the seal of a bris milah. It was implanted on the body on the eighth day, and it’s the eighth mitzvah in the Torah, coming after the seven Noahide mitzvos. I would have thought that it’s permissible then to be proud regarding one’s milah. It’s like a badge of honor, testifying that we are Hashem’s holy nation. The Torah therefore says לא בשמים היא, with the allusion to milah in מי יעלה לנו השמימה. Haughtiness and pride are never permitted, even with one’s milah.
We decided to name our child Noam Tzvi, after both of our grandfathers. My maternal grandfather, known as Harry Simkover, had the Hebrew name Tzvi. My wife’s paternal Zaida, Desiderio Mittelmann, was also named Tzvi. I feel like a very good description of my grandfather is someone who was humble. He was the exact opposite of haughty. He was always soft spoken, and I can’t imagine him raising his voice at someone. He was one of the smartest people I know, and never imposed his opinions on others. He was always happy to hear what others had to say. My wife’s Zaida was an exceptionally hard worker, both through his dedication to support his family and through his avodas Hashem. Yet, he always kept things under the radar. One example is that every day he would go very early to shul to say tehillim, but didn’t make a big fuss about it.
The name Noam we think is both an apt description for our son, and a prayer for the future. From the moment he was born he had this pleasantness to him. He’s relatively quiet, and peaceful. By naming him Noam it is our prayer that Hashem grant us the ability to raise him to continue with this middah of neimus, being pleasant to all those around him. Also, the verse says דרכיה דרכי נעם, the Torah’s paths are pleasant. We hope that our son will truly embody this way of living. As well, with the name Tzvi, we hope he will grow up to emulate his grandfathers.
 Based on Minchas Asher Bereishis § 15 and Chasam Sofer Al HaTorah to Deuteronomy 30:12
 Genesis 17:10
 Kiddushin 29a
 See Shulchan Aruch Yoreh Deah 265:9
 Ohr Zaruah Hilchos Milah 107:5, brought by Darkei Moshe to Tur Yoreh Deah § 264:1; Shach to Shulchan Aruch Choshen Mishpat 382:1 § 4 (he writes that those that do are מבטלים מצות עשה); Ketzos HaChoshen ad. loc. § 1. See also Pischei Teshuvah to Shulchan Aruch Yoreh Deah 264:1 § 1
 Ketzos HaChoshen loc. cit. The Darkei Moshe also seems to understand the Ohr Zaruah this way, since he asks why is milah any worse than any other mitzvah where shlichus works. However, see Teshuvos Maharam Shik Yoreh Deah § 239 and Teshuvos Beis HaLevi IV § 169, who point out that Ohr Zaruah HaGadol Hilchos Milah § 107 is pretty implicit that shlichus does work, just that a father should do the milah himself if he can (either because מצוה בו יותר מבשלוחו (Beis HaLevi), see below, or he means the father shouldn’t let someone else do it without shlichus (Miluei Choshen ad. loc. § 2))
 Bava Kamma 91b; Chullin 87a; Mishneh Torah Hilchos Chovel UMazik 7:14; Shulchan Aruch loc. cit.
 Piskei Rosh Chullin 6:8
 Ketzos HaChoshen loc. cit.
 Inter alia, Berachos 5:5; Kiddushin 41b
 Tosafos Rid to Kiddushin 42b s.v. שאני התם
 Ketzos HaChoshen loc. cit. The Miluei Choshen ad. loc. § 5 brings from the Beis Ephraim Choshen Mishpat § 67 who asks that it’s obvious that milah isn’t considered a מצוה שבגופו (see also Miluei Choshen 181:1 § 1). However, he also brings from the Chasam Sofer to Chullin loc. cit. why it would indeed make sense to say that milah is a מצוה שבגופו
 Kiddushin 41a. Rav Asher Weiss has pointed out on many occasions that this is the only source in all of sifrei Chazal for this concept. See note 21
 Rashi ad. loc., seemingly based on Avos 5:23
 See Mishneh Torah Hilchos Shabbos 30:6, who says a person too honorable to do chores should themselves toil for shabbos preparation, שזה הוא כבודו. One way to read it is that this is the person’s honor, to toil for the mitzvah of shabbos. Perhaps this is how the Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 250:1 understood the Rambam. However, I recall Rabbi Elimelech Reznick suggesting that the Rambam meant this is the honor of shabbos, as the Rambam learned מצוה בו יותר מבשלוחו to be because it shows more honor to the mitzvah to do it oneself
 Someone I know suggested a third reason why מצוה בו יותר מבשלוחו. Outer actions affect our inner thoughts and attitudes (see Rambam to Avos 3:15, Sefer HaChinuch § 16, and Mesillas Yesharim end of Chapter 7). This is the reason behind many of the mitzvos (as evident from most of Sefer HaChinuch). Even if a person’s thoughts could be affected if a shliach performed the mitzvah, there’s no question they’ll be affected more by doing it themselves
 This is what Rav Asher Weiss would say if not for what the Ketzos HaChoshen says to explain the Ohr Zaruah and Shach. Although the Shach writes that those that appoint another are מבטלים מצות עשה, this expression has precedent to be used to mean someone is failing to fulfill a הידור מצוה (in this case מצוה בו יותר מבשלוחו)
 Pleisi 28:8:3. Rav Asher Weiss also cites Teshuvos Kesav Sofer Yoreh Deah § 121. See Minchas Chinuch 2:14 who asks according to this why do we need a verse to exclude a non-Jew from performing milah (Avodah Zara 27a), if the only way it is permitted for them to do so would be through shlichus, and a non-Jew can’t do shlichus (Kiddushin 41b). The Tevuos Shor ad. loc. § 14 seemingly has another resolution to these opinions which forbid appointing another for milah. He writes that the rule of מצוה בו יותר מבשלוחו is when a person is too lazy to perform the mitzvah themselves. However, if their intent is to honor a righteous individual with the mitzvah, that’s perfectly fine. The Minchas Chinuch and Darkei Teshuvah ad. loc. § 1 understood the Tevuos Shor to be saying the opposite of the Pleisi, but Da’as Yehonasan ad. loc. § 12 points out that the Tevuos Shor obviously meant honoring another by making them a shliach, whereas the Pleisi forbade honoring another without making them a shliach
 Rav Asher Weiss asks that by צא הרוג את הנפש (see Kiddushin 43a), would it make a difference if I made them my shliach vs. if I simply honored them with this command?
 Tosafos Rid to Kiddushin 29a s.v. איהי מנלן writes האב שציוהו הבורא להתעסק במילת בנו. See also Chiddushei Rabbi Akiva Eiger to Avodah Zarah 27a s.v. וא”כ צריך לומר
 In Minchas Asher Kiddushin 44:3, he uses this to explain why מצוה בו יותר מבשלוחו is only said by Chazal by the mitzvos of kiddushin and kevod shabbos. These two mitzvos are unique in that if they are performed by a shliach, it turns out that no one has performed the mitzvah. It’s just that the result is that a woman becomes married, or there’s food for shabbos. In these two specific instances it’s better to do the mitzvah oneself so that someone gets reward, instead of no one
 In Minchas Asher Bereishis 28:2, he uses this to explain how a shliach could say the beracha on the mitzvah he is performing, different than the explanations of the Mor UKtziah § 432, Beis Meir ad. loc., Shulchan Aruch HaRav Orach Chaim 263:5, and Mishnah Berurah 432:2 § 10 (see there)
 Deuteronomy 30:12
 Rashi ad. loc. Cf. Ramban ad. loc.
 Eruvin 55a
 The Chasam Sofer brings this from דורשי רשומות. The Ba’al HaTurim ad. loc. says this. It’s also brought by Rabboseinu Ba’alei HaTosafos and Rav Yehudah HaChossid ad. loc., Moshav Zekeinim to Leviticus 12:3, Rabbeinu Ephraim to Genesis 18:1, Rav Chaim Paltiel to ibid 17:21, Peirushei Siddur HaTefillah LaRokeach Birkos HaMilah s.v. על כן בשכר זאת המילה, Menoras HaMaor (Alankava) Perek HaMitzvos Gedolah Milah, Menoras HaMaor (Abuhav) 3:1:1:2, Shibbolei HaLeket Hilchos Milah § 1
 Sotah 5a
 The Chasam Sofer writes מותר, but the gemarra writes צריך
 Like we see with Dovid HaMelech, who was proud of his milah (Menachos 30b)
 See Mishneh Torah Hilchos De’os 2:3
 Proverbs 3:17