Wednesday, February 13, 2013

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"Morally" Opposed to Circumcision

by Reb Gutman Locks @ Mystical Paths

image003A (Jewish) Woman in Switzerland wrote:

     This is a big issue in my family. I am "morally" opposed to circumcision, and I am due to have a son in just over a month. I have moral opposition based on psychological and medical opinion and also I do not think Europe is overly safe and do not want my son "singled out" (which is not uncommon in Europe).

     All my moral issues aside, I see the anthropological basis for infant circumcision as it has a function but that is, in my opinion, the reason it was put in place. My "scientific" (not religious) opinion is that circumcision was done to lower the incidence of phimosis in adult males walking in desert conditions with sand blowing up under their "attire" which was loose fitting open clothing. Obviously the procedure is far more "memorable" for an adult than an infant.

     Now as for the religious basis, I am very upset about this because I do feel personally torn toward my duty as a Jewish mother and my son's personal comfort and what I see as his rights and not wanting him to endure pain so soon after birth. I also have studied as much as I can read and have come across a lot of literature that states that the TRUE Birt Milah was not radical amputation of the prepuce but rather was a more benign version in which excess skin was removed. During the Greek rule over Israel and subsequent immigration to Greece of Jews many Jews apparently would "re-stretch" the prepuce to its normal state so as not to be immediately distinguishable as Jews. In turn, as I heard it, a rabbinical decree was made to RADICALLY remove the prepuce so this could not continue.

      Now I am curious as to what amount of truth there is in the story and why a radical removal is necessary to fulfill the covenant? I would allow a modified less harmful version but I cannot allow such a painful and radical version due to my convictions of my son's rights. Naturally later if he wanted it I would pay in full for it.

Thank you in advance-

L

Reb Gutman’s response:

     Mazal tov on the upcoming, wonderful event. May it be in a good time.

     Your son will feel much more discomfort being forced through the birth canal than from his bris. Often, I see infants cry for less than one minute from the circumcision.

     The facts in the world today do not agree with you. Today, the major treatment in Africa to prevent AIDS is male circumcision. Their governments are circumcising all they can to stop that horrible disease.

     As to your fear of being identified as a Jew in Europe, the ones Europe has good reason to fear are the Muslims who are also circumcised. So that fear is unfounded.

   This procedure goes all the way back to Avraham who was commanded to do it to himself at the age of 99 and to his sons, and even to his male slaves. That was 4,000 years ago. Throughout the centuries, many Jews have risked their lives to circumcise their sons, but still they did it. And, if the reason for circumcision was to help men walking in the desert wouldn’t other people walking in the desert have adapted the procedure, too? But no, only Avraham’s descendants follow this commandment.

     If you want to look for a reason for the procedure, other than G-d told us to do it, then there is an important spiritual benefit to the bris, too. An uncircumcised male is much more drawn to the sexual experience than a circumcised male. For someone seeking a spiritual life, it is a great blessing to put the immense pull of the sexual experience into a more controlled place.

     If I may give you advice; His bris at 8 days old is a very minor experience compared to what he would have to go through when he grows up and wants to live a Jewish life, marry a Jewish girl, put on tefillin, as all spiritual Jewish men do.

   I hope this is enough information for you. If not, keep asking.

Be well

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