web analytics
November 23, 2014 / 1 Kislev, 5775
At a Glance
Blogs
Sponsored Post
IDC Herzliya Campus A Day on Campus

To mark IDC Herzliya’s 20th anniversary, we spent a day following Prof. Uriel Reichman, IDC’s founder and president, and Jonathan Davis, VP for External Relations, around its delightful campus.



Is Consent for Metzitza B’Peh Really about Banning Circumcision?

Metzizah b'peh is not even required by many Orthododx poskim. In fact it is actually discouraged by some.
Jews perform a brit mila in the French Jewish Community in Paris.

Jews perform a brit mila in the French Jewish Community in Paris.
Photo Credit: Serge Attal/FLASH90

The welfare of Klal Yisroel will be upheld. This is how I see the new regulation requiring informed consent before performing Metzitza B’Peh (MbP).

For those not up to speed about this ritual procedure – it involves suctioning off the blood by mouth from a circumcision wound. The Gemarah, in its description of the very important Mitzvah of Bris Milah, explains the procedure for that in relative detail.

As has always been the case throughout Jewish history, the rabbis understood that the Torah always put the health of the individual above just about all else. So they mandated what was a safety feature of the bris – the suctioning of the blood (metzitza) off the wound so that it would not become a source of infection. In fact that is clearly how metzitza is stated in the Gemarah. As a safety precaution.

So according to the Gemarah even though it does not invalidate the actual bris if metzizah is not done, it is nonetheless a Halachic requirement to do so.

The Gemarah does not describe the method of suction one must use. It just says “metzitza” – suction. Historically the most efficient method was to simply suction it off quickly by mouth. For thousands of years that is how every bris was done. Until the 19th century. At that time many of the greatest poskim of the era allowed alternative methods of suctioning after there were some deaths attributed to a possibly infected mohel.

But that did not stop the hardcore traditionalists from insisting that doing so by mouth was not only preferable but required! Those who argued saying that there were legitimate poskim who permitted non-oral suction methods were rebuffed with claims that these poskim never intended their kulos (leniencies) to be permanent.

They insist that MbP is an integral part of the bris. Here is the way the Forward put it in the name of one of the most prominent mohalim, Rabbi Avrohom Cohn who heads the American Board of Ritual Circumcision and who is in the forefront of fighting this new regulation:

[T]he ultra-Orthodox minority who do use metzitzah b’peh, including members of Cohn’s group, avow that this technique must be part of the circumcision ritual in order to fulfill divine commandments set out in the Torah and the Talmud. Personally I don’t know how they can make that claim. If there were ever circumcisions done without MbP, they would be invalid by this definition. Which would make those poskim guilty of being machti es haRabim (causing the public to sin). Besides – what would those poskim gain by omitting MbP? Why bother doing it at all?! If MbP is integral then there was no point to doing a bris! Furthermore they are casting aspersions on every circumcision that does not do MbP.

Nonetheless they feel that any interference with that practice violates their right to practice their religion as they see fit. Even New York city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygene (DOHMH) requirement to sign an informed consent form stating they have been made aware of the possible risk of infection to the child.

One may ask, “What is the big deal?” “Let them sign the forms and they can do what they want!” That’s how I feel about it. But they feel they cannot sign a document that would in effect be saying that Halacha as they understand it is dangerous to your health.

They claim is that there is no danger to a child that has MbP. That’s the way it has been done for millennia. And that there is no poof that the few babies that died were because of infections transferred by mouth from the mohel. And that even if it were proven in one or 2 cases – the statistical probability of it happening is negligible considering the tens of thousands of times each year MbP was done without incident.

The Department of Health obviously disagrees and points to studies that have show a strong likelihood of several babies being infected by a mohel with the herpes virus. From the Forward:

More recent DOHMH studies have revealed 12 area infants who have contracted herpes after circumcision. with two of the infants dying soon after.

And since herpes can be asymptomatic, the risks are real, small though they may be. Hence the regulation. Which carries financial penalties if not followed.

About the Author: Harry Maryles runs the blog "Emes Ve-Emunah" which focuses on current events and issues that effect the Jewish world in general and Orthodoxy in particular. It discuses Hashkafa and news events of the day - from a Centrist perspctive and a philosphy of Torah U'Mada. He can be reached at hmaryles@yahoo.com.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

7 Responses to “Is Consent for Metzitza B’Peh Really about Banning Circumcision?”

  1. Anonymous says:

    This is just the tip of the problem. Boys need to be allowed to give consent to circumcision at the age of consent, not forced onto them as children.

  2. Why does this question even arise? Doctors have said that oral suction is dangerous, so if the health of the individual is above just about all else then surely the practice should be discontinued!

  3. Why does this question even arise? Doctors have said that oral suction is dangerous, so if the health of the individual is above just about all else then surely the practice should be discontinued!

  4. Why does this question even arise? Doctors have said that oral suction is dangerous, so if the health of the individual is above just about all else then surely the practice should be discontinued!

  5. Why does this question even arise? Doctors have said that oral suction is dangerous, so if the health of the individual is above just about all else then surely the practice should be discontinued!

  6. Rebecca Fine says:

    It concerns me that there are a minority of extremists on this issue in the Orthodox community. I support the right of parents to have their boys circumcised, whether it is Jews for religious reasons or Christians for medical reasons, but performing what is essentially oral sex on an infant boy with all the risks and inappropriate associations that carries, is not appropriate.

  7. This makes no sense: why is touching a penis with one's mouth worse than touching it with a blade? Circumcision is a monstrosity by itself, the subsequent vampirism is just a detail.

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Binyamin and Chaya Maryles, uncle and aunt of Emes Ve-Emunah author Harry Maryles.
Current Top Story
Islamic State flag displayed from Arab residence
IDF Arrests Terrorist Linked with ISIS
Latest Blogs Stories
President Ruby Rivlin

President Rivlin’s recent statements are only half right, and that’s why he’s completely wrong.

i_love_jerusalem

This is our song “Learn to Love;” May joy and light be restored to Jerusalem speedily in our days.

Free-Jonathan-Pollard-Poster

I have a dream…President Obama will go to that prison, Pardon Jonathan Pollard and set him free

Rabbi-Twersky-112114

The burden of proof that a person is against Israel but not anti-Semitic rests on that person.

Bibi’s promising a good battle, not a victory in the war; We need to WIN the war against terrorism!

For 1000s of years it was perfectly OK for Jews to pray on Herod’s Extension of the Temple Mount.

The focus on the “Occupation” since 1967 is yet another invention to justify hatred and murder.

It should be clear Israel’s existence is not the real issue; the issue is Islamic fundamentalism.

But I am not afraid.I know this is Jewish land, not because of UN/foreign gov’ts saying we can exist

A grassroots initiative of hundreds of Chareidim from Har Nof is underway to attend the funeral of Zidan Saif and to pay their respects to the fallen policeman and to the Druze community in the village of Yanuch-Jat in Northern Israel.

Discover the world of NY high society and its intrigue.

A Jew is no more exempt in this war by living in the US or UK than I am enlisted by living in Efrat

Officer Zidan Sayif saved lives in the Har Nof Massacre, but was shot in the head and is now fighting for his life.

“Y.E.” a United Hatzalah paramedic was injured while treating the wounded under fire in the Har Nof Massacre.

It is time the leaders in Israel and the world realize this has nothing to do with settlements or the Temple Mount or a fake claim of occupation and everything to do with radical Islamic barbarism!

The Leftist Israeli media has always been unabashedly political;To them “objective”=”in my opinion”

More Articles from Harry Maryles
Rabbi-Twersky-112114

The burden of proof that a person is against Israel but not anti-Semitic rests on that person.

Peter Kassig, American aid worker, former Army Ranger, next to be threatened with beheading by ISIS.

It should be clear Israel’s existence is not the real issue; the issue is Islamic fundamentalism.

Artifacts are not what make the Jewish people great; it is our conduct that does.

The RCA stated their review will add protection for the convert and not tamper with Halacha.

It undermines the tenets the rabbi preaches to his congregants when his wife does not live by them

Argue with Rabbi Gordimer on the merits;Go ahead. What Rabbi Katz did went well beyond the pale.

Fiddler on the Roof moved some Jews to explore their roots; it actually led some to become observant

It is the acceptance of all Halacha that is important – not the immediate knowledge of them.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/haemtza/is-consent-for-metzitza-bpeh-really-about-banning-circumcision/2013/02/06/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: