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April 20, 2014 / 20 Nisan, 5774
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Concern: Some Iranian Jews Improperly Circumcised (Video)

It turns out that there exists a less invasive method of circumcision, which does not fully remove the foreskin.
Moti was not properly circumcised back in Shiraz, Iran.

Moti was not properly circumcised back in Shiraz, Iran.

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According to the website Ladaat, there is a concern that Iranian Jews who were circumcised in the city of Shiraz may not be properly circumcised according to Halacha, and may need to undergo a corrective procedure.

This alarming revelation is based on testimony by one Shiraz-born Jewish man, who is 56 today and goes by the name of Motti. In a get-together marking the month of Elul—a time of contemplation and repentance—which included Rabbi Yaron Amit of the Brit Yosef Yitzchak organization, the rabbi shared that there is a growing phenomenon of adult, observant Jews whose circumcision was not done in keeping with Jewish Law.

It turns out that there exists a less invasive method of circumcision, which does not fully remove the foreskin, and so, according to the law, despite the pain the subject of circumcision endures in the process, in the end he is not considered to be circumcised.

Motti, for reasons he does not share in the video, decided to go and be checked by Brit Yosef Yitzchak, and, just as he had suspected, his brit milah required some corrective surgery, which was performed on the spot.

Motti was circumcised at the age of 8 days, like every newborn Jewish baby, but the mohel-ritual circumciser did not finish the job.

According to the website, there has been a similar phenomenon in northern Israel a while back, and some children also required corrective surgery to complete their circumcision.

In Motti’s case the suspects are a father and son team of mohels who worked for years in Shiraz. If this is true, and Motti’s botched circumcision was not the exception, but merely one sample of the Shiraz “style” of circumcision, it could mean that a large number of men in their fifties and sixties from that city may require an examination.

This is why Motti has gone to the trouble of shooting a video—in Hebrew—to alert his former neighbors to the possibility of the need for a recall.

This reporter inquired with immigrants from Iran, and it appears that the general impression of the Shiraz community is that it is more machmir-stringentin than many in their religious practice, and so the problem with the brit could not have stemmed from rejection of the custom.


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About the Author: Yori Yanover has been a working journalist since age 17, before he enlisted and worked for Ba'Machane Nachal. Since then he has worked for Israel Shelanu, the US supplement of Yedioth, JCN18.com, USAJewish.com, Lubavitch News Service, Arutz 7 (as DJ on the high seas), and the Grand Street News. He has published Dancing and Crying, a colorful and intimate portrait of the last two years in the life of the late Lubavitch Rebbe, (in Hebrew), and two fun books in English: The Cabalist's Daughter: A Novel of Practical Messianic Redemption, and How Would God REALLY Vote.


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10 Responses to “Concern: Some Iranian Jews Improperly Circumcised (Video)”

  1. William Ortego says:

    Well, Mark, before that it was simply a prick of the foreskin to drawn blood.

  2. Eva Feld says:

    Halacha, already alive and well in Abraham's time, no doubt that Abraham knew how to do it, and eventually Esau and Yaakov, etc. Indomitable character of deep faith and spirituality didn't count as long as the foreskin was properly croped.

  3. Eva Feld says:

    Halacha, already alive and well in Abraham's time, no doubt that Abraham knew how to do it, and eventually Esau and Yaakov, etc. Indomitable character of deep faith and spirituality didn't count as long as the foreskin was properly croped.

  4. Hugh Intactive says:

    It's certainly odd to describe a less-invasive form of circumcision as "botched". Real botches are more common than many people think, and are usually more invasive. The ironically-named Mogen clamp for example, could trap the glans (head) and resulted in several lawsuits that drove the Mogen Company out of business. Old Mogen clamps and non-US knockoffs are still in use, though. http://www.circumstitions.com/Botched.html , http://www.circumstitions.com/methods.html#mogen.

  5. Joseph Lewis says:

    Leonard Glick, in his book "Marked in Your Flesh," describes Brit Milah as it evolved through the ages. All Jewish scholars seem to agree that the first version of the ritual was merely cutting off the end of the foreskin. "Peri'ah," or rending the entire foreskin to leave the glans bare and raw was added by 6th century rabbis to prevent male Jews from erasing their mark to fit in with their gentile counterparts. Metzitzah b'peh was added much later, and has been increasingly under fire for spreading Herpes and killing chidren. Leonard Glick talks of taking his children, who were circumcised in a hospital, to have another blood-drawing ceremony, because a hospital circumcision didn't suffice. In such "corrections," it is merely symbolic, as there is no foreskin left to cut off. So how are these considered "botches," esp. since they seem to resemble the original brit? If the circumcision was done on the 8th day with the right prayers etc., wasn't it a "good enough" circumcision? Is what happening here real desire to keep Halacha? Or just another rabbi trying to make a name for himself?

  6. Jason Fairfield says:

    They are considered improperly performed circumcisions because the Talmud, not just the Torah, governs the specifics of such matters. The current version of the Talmud reflects the decisions of the rabbinical council to add peri'ah and metzitzah b'peh many centuries ago, so the circumcision of the Pentateuch is rendered obsolete and invalid.

    That is, the modern interpretation of what G-d intended was updated 1500 years ago to be a new operation, one that requires specialized operators because fathers were not qualified to do such invasive surgery. When it was just the loose overhang coming off, fathers themselves circumcised their sons as in the Genesis 17 covenant. G-d said Hebrew fathers must personally circumcise their sons and all male members of the household, including non-Hebrew employees and slaves. No allowance for agents, surrogates or any cutters-for-hire.

    The Talmud changed this also to create the new job of mohel. The whole thing is unrecognizable from the original. To top it off, an increasing number of biblical scholars are convinced that Jewish circumcision did not originate with Abraham and a directive from G-d, but rather was invented and introduced by the later-discredited Hebrew priests during exile from Judea around 600 BC. In other words, totally man-made.

  7. Jason Fairfield says:

    Let Motti keep getting checked and skinned by mohels until there is nothing left of that prick.

  8. Ron Low says:

    The earliest Abrahamic circumcisions removed only the minimal amount of foreskin that was not fused to the glans at birth. Periah and full amputation was added in the Hellenic era by corrupt men.

    These semi-cut men should be left in peace for the love of G-d.

  9. Pete Keay says:

    Joseph Lewis: I'm actually doing my Masters thesis on this topic of the addition of peri'ah (well, it's broader, but this is included). However, it seems it was 2nd century Jews (ca. the year 120), not 6th. See "The Oxford Dictionary of the Jewish Religion," "The Covenant of Circumcision," and the resources noted in both. I have Glick's book, but if you have other support for the 6th century number, please let me know.

  10. Joseph Lewis says:

    You may actually be correct and it was the 2nd century. I must sit down and read the book again.

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