1) "CHILUL SHABBOS" FOR THE SAKE OF "PIKU'ACH NEFESH"
OPINIONS: The Mishnah (133a) states that if the post-operative medications which are administered after the Milah were not prepared before Shabbos, then one may prepare them on Shabbos with a Shinuy (he should chew them, and not ground them in the normal fashion).
What is the Halachah when there is no way to do the Melachah with a Shinuy, and the Milah on Shabbos necessitates that a Melachah be done for the sake of the baby? (For example, hot water for washing the baby after the Milah was not prepared before Shabbos.) May the Milah be performed on Shabbos, thus putting the baby in a state of danger so that a Melachah must be done for him, or should the Milah be delayed until the next day in order to avoid Chilul Shabbos?
(a) The BA'AL HA'ME'OR says that in such a situation, the Milah should not be performed on Shabbos. It is better to delay the Milah than to enter a situation which will certainly result in a Melachah d'Oraisa being performed on Shabbos, even though it would be for Piku'ach Nefesh.
(b) The RAMBAN (in Milchamos) says that one is permitted to perform the Milah on Shabbos, even though it will necessitate Chilul Shabbos for the sake of Piku'ach Nefesh, because at this moment (before the Milah has been done) there is no need for a Melachah to be performed, and there is an obligation to do the Mitzvah. We do not have to be concerned prior to the Milah that it will necessitate the desecration of Shabbos after the Milah for the sake of Piku'ach Nefesh.
The Acharonim (KEHILAS YAKOV #15, and others) point out that the Ramban and Ba'al ha'Me'or are consistent with their respective opinions elsewhere (Shabbos 19a). The Ba'al ha'Me'or maintains that one may not embark on a sea-voyage within three days before Shabbos, because it is common for sea-travel to create a situation of Piku'ach Nefesh. Traveling by sea on Shabbos might possibly necessitate the desecration of Shabbos (see Insights to Shabbos 19:2), and therefore it is forbidden. The Ramban (in Milchamos to Shabbos 19a) maintains that we are not concerned with the desecration of Shabbos that might result, because at this moment there is no Melachah being done and when it does become necessary to desecrate the Shabbos, it will be permitted because of Piku'ach Nefesh.
The commentaries (see Mishnah Berurah OC 328:39) suggest that this argument depends on the nature of the reason why one may desecrate Shabbos for the sake of Piku'ach Nefesh. If Shabbos is only "Dechuyah" in the event of Piku'ach Nefesh (literally, it is "pushed off"; the prohibition against Shabbos desecration is still in force, but it the necessity to do a Melachah for Piku'ach Nefesh overrides the laws of Shabbos; see Rambam, Hilchos Shabbos 2:1), it is logical to accept the Ba'al ha'Meor's assertion. Chilul Shabbos even for Piku'ach Nefesh must be avoided wherever possible. On the other hand, if Shabbos is "Hutrah" in the event of Piku'ach Nefesh (it is "permitted"; that is, the laws of Shabbos were never prescribed for situations of Piku'ach Nefesh, and, therefore, there is no desecration of Shabbos when a Melachah is performed for Piku'ach Nefesh; see Bi'ur Halachah, ad loc., who cites the ROSH and MAHARAM MI'ROTENBURG who ascribe to this view), then the Ramban's ruling is logical. (See Insights to Shabbos 30:1, Shabbos 128:3, Shabbos 133:4, and Nidah 38:5. See also Kehilos Yakov, ibid. and Mishmeres Chaim, vol. 1, who discuss the comparison between the Ba'al ha'Me'or's statements here and earlier in Shabbos.)
2) PREPARING FOOD ON YOM TOV THAT COULD HAVE BEEN PREPARED BEFORE YOM TOV
QUESTION: Although one is permitted to roast steak on hot coals on Yom Tov, one is not permitted to sweeten mustard on hot coals. The Gemara explains that the reason is because the mustard could have been sweetened before Shabbos without losing any taste when Yom Tov arrives. In contrast, meat does not taste as good when it is roasted a day earlier, and therefore it may be roasted on Yom Tov. Why is it forbidden to sweeten the mustard on Yom Tov just because it could be done before Yom Tov? After all, the Gemara in Beitzah (28b) says that Melachah for the sake of food preparation may be done on Yom Tov even if it could have been done before Yom Tov!
(a) The RAMBAN and other Rishonim explain that the prohibition against sweetening mustard on hot coals is only a rabbinical stringency. Mid'Oraisa, one may prepare food on Yom Tov even though it could have been prepared before Yom Tov. The Rabanan enacted that one avoid doing Melachah on Yom Tov whenever possible, and thus food that can be prepared before Yom Tov may not be prepared on Yom Tov.
(b) RASHI in Beitzah (23b) implies that doing Melachah on Yom Tov for the sake of food preparation is permitted only when it could not have been done before Yom Tov (contrary to the apparent ruling of the Gemara in Beitzah cited above; see Tosfos to Beitzah 3a).
3) AND THEY CALLED HIM "NASAN HA'BAVLI"
QUESTION: A woman came to Rebbi Nasan with her third son and asked him what to do. Her first two sons had died as a result of their Milah. Rebbi Nasan looked at the baby and saw that he was very red. He told the woman, "Wait until his body absorbs his blood." She waited as directed, and the son indeed survived after his Milah. They called the child "Nasan ha'Bavli" in honor of Rebbi Nasan.
On another occasion, a woman in the same situation came to Rebbi Nasan with her third son. He looked at the baby and saw that he was very pale. He examined the baby further and did not find any Dam Bris. He directed the woman to wait until the baby develops more blood. She followed his advice and the baby lived after his Milah. The Gemara relates that "they called his name 'Nasan ha'Bavli'" in honor of Rebbi Nasan.
Why does the Gemara say in the second case that they "called his name" Nasan ha'Bavli, while in the first case it mentions only that they "called him" Nasan ha'Bavli?
ANSWER: RAV YAAKOV D. HOMNICK (in SEFER NACHALAS YAKOV) points out that according to Rashi, in the second case there were two problems. First, the baby boy was in mortal danger if a Milah would be performed while he was pale. Second, even if Milah was performed no blood would ooze from the cut. Since Dam Bris is necessary for the proper fulfillment of the Mitzvah of Milah, the lack of Dam Bris would render the Mitzvah of Milah invalid. Rashi derived this from the fact that in the second case, Rebbi Nasan added that he did not see any Dam Bris. In the first case, though, the only problem was the mortal danger that the baby faced.
Therefore, in the first case, the people were relieved and expressed their gratitude to Rebbi Nasan only days or weeks after the Milah was performed, when it became evident that the baby would live. At the time of the Milah, though, it was not clear yet that he would survive. They gave the baby his own name at the time of the Milah and Keri'as Shem, and only later, when they saw that he would survive, did they begin to "call him" by the name "Nasan ha'Bavli" in appreciation.
In the second case, the people were grateful to Rebbi Nasan at the very moment that Dam Bris flowed from the Milah (which apparently did not occur when the child's older brothers were circumcised). They therefore called the name of the child by the name of "Nasan ha'Bavli," when he was named during the Milah at the Keri'as Shem, in appreciation for Rebbi Nasan's advice that led to the proper fulfillment of the Mitzvah.
4) THE THIRD DAY AFTER "MILAH"
QUESTION: The Gemara explains that the Tana Kama and Rebbi Elazar ben Azaryah argue whether one is permitted to wash a baby on Shabbos, when that day is the third day after the Milah. Rebbi Elazar ben Azaryah cites a verse to support his opinion that one may wash the baby on Shabbos without a Shinuy. When the wicked men of Shechem were in pain from their Milah, Shimon and Levi attacked the city and killed all of the male inhabitants (Bereishis 34:25). From there we see that a person is in pain on the third day after the Milah, and therefore his needs may be fulfilled without a Shinuy. The Tana Kama argues and maintains that the child may be washed only on the first two days after the Milah, but not on the third day (see Rashi, DH Ela Iy Amrit), because by the third day he is no longer in so much danger and it is not necessary to do a Melachah in order to wash him.
It seems clear from the Gemara that one who has undergone Milah is in more pain during the first two days, while on the third day it is questionable whether Melachah may be done in order to wash him. Why, then, did the sons of Yakov Avinu wait until the third day to attack the people of Shechem? They should have attacked right away, on the first or second day after the Milah, when the people would certainly be ill and weak from their Milah!
(a) The Rishonim explain that according to Rashi's understanding of the Sugya, the following distinction must be made. With regard to a person's physical health, he is in greater danger on the first two days after the Milah than on the third day. However, with regard to a person's strength, he is weaker on the third day than on the first two days (because he has already suffered from his wound for two days).
The sons of Yakov Avinu, who wanted to attack the men of Shechem when they were at their weakest state after their Milah, waited until the third day to attack them. During the first two days, even though the men of Shechem were in more physical pain, they were stronger and would have been able to flee or to fight back. The Gemara here refers to one's state of health, which is certainly worse on the first two days after the Milah than it is on the third.
(b) The RIF and RAMBAM understand the Gemara differently than Rashi. Rebbi Elazar ben Azaryah permits washing the child only on the third day, and not on the second day. The Tana Kama does not permit washing the child on the second or third day. Rebbi Elazar ben Azaryah permits washing the child on the third day, because on that day in particular the child is in greater danger. When the Gemara says that the Tana Kama agrees that the baby may be washed on the first day, it refers to the time immediately after the Milah, when the child is certainly in a state of danger. The sons of Yakov Avinu waited until the third day to attack Shechem because that is when a person is in the greatest danger as a result of his Milah.