Shalom

I have longed for thy salvation, O L-RD; and thy Torah is my delight. Let my soul live, and it shall praise thee; and let thy judgments help me. I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek thy servant; for I do not forget thy commandments. Psalm 119:174-176


05 October 2012

Ritual Circumcision and Germany

Lamb, Heidelberg Zoo - Photo by J. Stahl

I'm not sure if you have heard of what has been going on here in Germany or not, but there has been a moratorium set for most individuals who wished their sons to be circumcised since this summer, due to a court case that took place in Cologne, Germany [Köln] this summer.

The basics of the story is that a Muslim couple wished to have their four year old son circumcised, and due to no fault of the doctor, the child began to bleed after his circumcision, the mother overreacted and sought additional medical care.  This was later taken to court by an over-zealous public prosecutor who got the court to rule that religious circumcisions are a serious breech of religious self-determination, and is a product of abuse, causing serious bodily harm. (making it a prosecutable offense for parents and doctors or mohels who circumcise for non-medical reasons)

A lot of news articles are making it out that this is a very anti-semitic turn for Germany and it is "no surprise" that we are "on this path anew/again" or that Germany is looking to drive out the last of the Jews in Germany finally... etc, yadda yadda. The truth is so much farther away and more complicated than that, but those who circumcise within Judaism and Christianity will now be caught in this net. And by "Christianity", I mean Messianic Jews - as we are not seen as a part of Judaism at this time.

This post is to document what is actually happening, as it happened, from a perspective of someone living in Germany and keeping up with the news in both English and German. 


It all started towards the end of June, when a young four year old boy was taken by his parents to be circumcised. Everything was routine, and went well by all medical accounts, until a couple days out from the circumcision.  I'd been hearing whispers that all was not right, and about a month after news broke, word got out that the child in question's mother was not exactly ok mentally speaking, and had tried to commit suicide after this incident. She and her husband have been MIA since first appearing in court. No word if anyone knows where they are now, or how the boy is. It is a very strange situation.

While all of this was being discussed as to whether it was constitutional for a regional court (specifically the court in Köln; Cologne) could do this or not - prosecutors began going after Mohels who did not heed the moratorium on circumcisions. Two were served papers to appear in court. I never did hear how that turned out exactly. It never hit the English news once they complained about it and it being still discussed within the Judicial and Legislative branches of the government. To me, it seemed as if that end of the story fell of the edge of the news world.

There were questions as to whether or not this would impact military service members and their families living abroad, who choose to do hospital circumcisions on the US Military bases. From all accounts I read, it would not have any bearing on these families.

Germany has decided to continue the allowance for circumcision, while still classifying it as bodily harm, but removing the legal jargon that would make it a punishable (fine or jail time) offense. Instead, they wish to inform Jewish parents when a boy is born what the risks are, and require that Mohels be licensed medical professionals and that parents sign off on legal paperwork when their sons are circumcised. A similar rule is in place for the 4 million plus Muslims in Germany, requiring those who circumcise to be medical professionals and Muslim parents to sign off for their sons to be circumcised and well informed of all risks.

Of course, not everyone is happy with this decision. There have been petitions, peaceful protests (Muslim, Christian and Jewish believers together united as one), and conferences with the Muslim and Jewish community.  I have a feeling this is not yet over.

After all this went down, the word on the street was that now prosecutors will go after parents who have their under 13yr old baby girls ears pierced. . . for the same reason as circumcision - bodily harm. The child could not choose that their body was altered, therefore it is wrong (culturally, religiously, and every other way possible) to change your child's body without their consent or affirmation that they wish this done of their own volition.

Regardless of one's personal views about circumcision, this is a rite that is demanded by the Bible and the Qu'ran and is not something lightly skipped over. Within Judaism, the penalty for not circumcising is kareth - being cut off from the community. I'm uncertain of the penalties within Islam, but I do know that most boys are circumcised within Islam by 13, unless they are converts.

Contrary to popular belief, Germany has laws in place that protect religious expression and parents teaching their children their religious beliefs (this is partly why schools are only half days here unless you elect to do private schools), and this also includes things such as male circumcision.

Female Genital Mutilation however, is and always has been forbidden, illegal and it is not taught as something allowable by the Qu'ran or by Judaism.  This is a very horrible, painful and shameful practice that doctors and advocates (including Muslim advocates) are pushing to find an end to. Please do not confuse the issue of FGM with a Brit Milah  or Muslim circumcision. They are two completely different things, one of which is abhorrent and awful, not called for by G-d; and one that is called for by G-d and at most removes only the foreskin and nothing more or less from an 8 day old to 13 year old child, or adult convert.  It is up to the parents or patient to ensure nothing more or less is taken, and that abhorrent acts such as Metitza B'Peh not be done.

Below is the complete account, quoted and linked to each paper that I witnessed discussing the issue. 

 
Religious circumcisions are bodily harm and thus a crime, a German court ruled... This criminalises religious circumcisions performed by Jews and Muslims... It says circumcision should be considered a crime of bodily harm. http://www.thelocal.de/society/20120626-43383.html

The case that prompted the ruling took place in Cologne, when a 4-year-old boy, circumcised by a Muslim doctor, began bleeding two days after the surgery and needed to be brought into the emergency room.

Dieter Graumann, the president of the German Central Council of Jews, said that the verdict was "an unprecedented and dramatic intervention in religious communities' right to self-determination."
Germany is home to as many as 4 million Muslims and at least 105,000 Jews, and the tradition of circumcision is common within both faiths. It is unlikely that parents will simply abandon efforts to circumcise their children as a result of the ruling.
At times in the past, legal proceedings have been taken against individuals who have provided circumcisions in Germany without being medical professionals. http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/religious-communities-debate-court-s-circumcision-ruling-a-841276.html

The court stated that circumcision serves as a "traditional-ritual course of action for documenting belonging culturally and religiously to the Muslim community." Circumcision, the court argued, would prevent the threat of stigmatization for the child among his peers. The court also stressed its opinion that there are medical advantages to circumcision. The public prosecutor responded by appealing the ruling, pushing the case up to the regional court...
...FDP integration expert Serkan Tören told the Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung newspaper on Saturday:
"If Germany bans circumcision on religious grounds the nation shouldn't bother with any further integration policies," said Tören, who himself is a Muslim. "A ban on circumcision would be the clearest signal to the Muslims in our country that they aren't part of Germany, that they aren't even welcome."
From the way things look at the moment, it seems that the judges in Karlsruhe will at some point have to turn their attention to the religious circumcision of boys, and that they will then follow the opinion of the Central Council of the Jews, which sees the Cologne ruling as an intervention in the right to self-determination of the religious communities.

Putzke said he began studying the issue of circumcision and children's rights after his law professor pointed out to him and other students that violence against children was widely condemned in all cases but these.

German FM slams circumcision ruling
"The ruling on circumcision has provoked annoyance internationally," Westerwelle wrote on his official Twitter account.
"We have to be clear: religious traditions are protected in Germany," he added.

...The Cologne verdict will not stop Muslim and Jewish parents in Germany continuing to circumcise their sons, though Fateh-Moghadam thinks many will travel abroad or have the procedure carried out in private. "I think the verdict could have a paradoxical effect - the level of protection for children will fall rather than rise," he warns.

German Muslim leaders urged lawmakers Wednesday to pass legislation protecting the right to circumcise boys after a court ruling against the practice when carried out on religious grounds.

Around 20 organisations representing most of Germany's around four million Muslims said parliament must ensure religious freedom by eliminating the legal uncertainty that now surrounds the practice...

If German courts do not view the admittance of Jewish and Muslim children into the religious communities of their parents as compatible with the wellbeing of the children concerned, then for the sake of consistency they would also have to ban the baptism of children. And even state religious education, guaranteed as a fundamental right, should then also be reassessed for the potential damage it might be inflicting on the emotional welfare of the child. But how can the judges be so sure that religion is detrimental to the welfare of the child?

In its ruling late last month, the court held that circumcision represents minor "bodily harm" to children. Here, that terminology is legally important, because public prosecutors are not required to pursue cases of minor bodily harm. A case would only be opened if an injured person or that injured person's parent files charges. It is not expected that many cases will ensure as a result of the court ruling.

Germany's two main Christian denominations severely criticized court ruling. The conference of Catholic bishops said the ruling is "extremely disconcerting". Catholic Bishop Heinrich Mussinghoff said "To ban circumcision is a serious attack on religious freedom." Hans Ulrich Anke of the Evangelical Lutheran Church said, "Religious freedom and parents' right to choose how to educate their children have not been weighed against the fundamental right of the child to bodily integrity".

At the initiative of the European Jewish Association (EJA), Jewish and Islamic representatives met together in Brussels on Monday along with legal and medical experts as well as representatives of the European Parliament to discuss the recent disturbing court ruling.
They issued a joint statement in which they “consider this to be an affront on our basic religious and human rights.”

Expressing uncertainty over the German parliament’s powers to overrule the decision... Michaelis insisted "the German government will study this judgement very thoroughly and carefully consider possible consequences of this decision."
However, he continued to support the regional sovereignty of the Cologne court, reiterating that "the federal government – I represent Germany’s federal government here in Israel – respects the independence of the German judiciary," adding that "therefore, my abilities to comment on this judgement are limited."


"A ban on circumcision poses an existential question for the Jewish community in Germany," the president of the organization, Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, said on Thursday. "If the ruling is allowed to stand, then I don't see a future for Jews in Germany."He said the ban on shechita, ...by the National Socialists had also been a sign for many Jews that "we need to leave Germany." But he added that a ban on circumcision, given the importance of the tradition, would send a much stronger message.http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/european-jewish-leaders-lambast-german-circumcision-ruling-a-844128.html

In addition to Jewish and Muslim groups in Germany, the ruling has also drawn strong condemnation from the state of Israel. Germany's ambassador to the country, Andreas Michaelis, recently sought to ease concerns by writing a letter to Knesset President Reuven Rivlin. In it, he stated: "The decision is an isolated case that is not legally binding for other courts."

...the German Medical Association, while opposing the ban because it could drive circumcision underground with greater risk of infection through poor hygiene, advised doctors not to carry out the operation until the legal situation was cleared up as they could risk prosecution.


The reality has been less clear-cut. Bans on circumcision have existed throughout history, from ancient Roman and Greek times to the Soviet era last century. And while the Cologne court did not ban the practice and acquitted the doctor who performed a procedure that resulted in complications, it found that “the right of parents to raise their children in a religion does not override the right of a child to bodily integrity.”

That such a ruling would come from a court in modern, post-World War II Germany has caused many to wonder whether the judges were fully aware of the implications and would have ruled differently had the case involved a Jewish boy, instead of a young Muslim. The boy in question was 4 years old.

“The Cologne court’s sloppy legal balancing act -- kids' physical integrity vs. parents’ religious interests -- completely ignores the nature of religious tradition, which is that it is transmitted from parents to children. To posit a world in which the parents have their religion, and kids choose theirs, when they’re old enough, is to imply that even sending one’s child to a religious school -- or making him prepare for a bar mitzvah -- might be a form of brainwashing.”
Some newspaper columnists and editorials have also come out in favour of the ban. ..."Muslims and Jews should decide themselves - but not before the age of 14".
Die Welt wrote: "The circumcision of Muslim boys is just as heinous as the archaic custom of the genital mutilation of little girls. It is an instrument of oppression and should be outlawed".
"For everyone in the government, it is absolutely clear that we want to have Jewish and Muslim religious life in Germany," said Steffen Seibert, the chancellor's spokesman. "Circumcision carried out in a responsible manner must be possible in this country without punishment."

“I do not believe the German leadership will allow the status quo to change in a way that will possibly compromise the ability of Jews to practice their faith in Germany,” he said. “Circumcision is the most widely practiced Jewish precept, and historically has been fulfilled even at the risk of a death sentence.”

Germans are almost evenly split over the prospect of a law allowing ritual circumcision of boys, a new poll suggests – as the country’s major parties unite to call for such a law.

"It's more complicated than adding a simple little phrase somewhere," Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger told the weekly Der Spiegel.
"I wouldn't be surprised after this emotional debate if the law landed before the German constitutional court," said the minister, who belongs to the liberal Free Democratic Party, part of the government coalition.

Had the government spoken out strongly sooner, said Goldberg, Germany may have managed to prevent the discussion from turning into an "us vs. them" embroilment.
"I get a lot of emails from non-Jewish Germans saying things like `if you don't like it, leave Germany' — very anti-Semitic. It's a bad atmosphere," said the rabbi, who immigrated to Germany 19 years ago from Israel and now lives in the southeastern city of Hof.

MPs of the lower house Bundestag adopted a cross-party motion Thursday calling for legislation by this autumn that would guarantee the right to religious circumcision as long as it does not entail "unnecessary suffering."

...U.S. military doctors will continue performing circumcisions on male infants when parents request it, officials say...

The June decision by a court in Cologne applies only in that jurisdiction, not in any of the German states in which U.S. military clinics are located, said Ed Rohan, a spokesman for Europe Regional Medical Command...


...it was the mother's fault. She had ...removed her son's dressing too early, preventing the wound from healing completely...

On the second day after the circumcision, she ran into the street in her pajamas, "screaming like a banshee," ...A pedestrian found her ...and called an ambulance, which took the mother and her son to the University Hospital of Cologne. Doctors there put the boy under full anesthesia, opened and replaced the sutures, and stopped the bleeding....
Shortly after her son was admitted to the university hospital, Ali's mother jumped from the third floor of the hospital. . .


Commentary: Undue Suffering: Circumcision for Non-Medical Reasons Is Wrong
As the debate over the medical ethics of circumcision rages in Germany, some have argued that the practice provides health benefits. But many in the medical community disagree. Circumcision is not in the best interest of boys who undergo the procedure. http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/commentary-circumcision-without-medical-justification-is-wrong-a-846395.html

Commentary: Tolerance and Taboos: Why Circumcision Is Not a Crime
A German court's outlawing of the circumcision of boys -- and the vociferous support it has received in the self-proclaimed enlightened media -- confirms a tendency that has seen religion-bashing and intolerance become the new cool. Respect, though, rather than supposed "common sense," is the true basis for social progress. http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/commentary-on-why-circumcision-should-not-be-a-crime-in-germany-a-846755.html

Is it possible to justify a Cologne court's ruling on the legality of circumcision on the basis of Germany's Basic Law? In this essay, Patrick Bahners takes a closer look at both the Basic Law and the ruling and concludes that the judges in Cologne must have made a serious error of judgement

Two young Jewish men and a Muslim man from Berlin have united to launch a joint petition against a German court's recent decision criminalise non-medical circumcision.
Circumcision is a stipulation of the Prophet and therefore non-negotiable. In an interview with Eren Güvercin, Feridun Zaimoglu makes a resolute plea for the impunity of this Jewish and Muslim ritual

Criminal charges filed against German rabbi for performing circumcisions
David Goldberg, who oversees a 400-member strong community in northern Bavaria, is the first mohel to be charged since Cologne court banned the ritual

On Thursday, Germany’s Ethics Council, an independent body made up of 26 members who specialize in various scientific, ethical, social and legal concerns, is to hold a public discussion on the circumcision debate.

German articles (can be run through Google Translate) :


"Charges have been filed but no investigation is yet underway," said Gerhard Schmitt, the local chief public prosecutor. "It really has to be examined in detail - this is a very, very complex issue."
While Schmitt declined to reveal the identity of who filed the charges - citing standard practice - Kamm came forward later in the day to reveal himself.


Calls for stict rules for circumcision
The German Ethics Council has in a public session discussed the religious circumcision of young boys. There's plenty of controversy, but at least the council agrees there should be high medical standards.

Israel's president has defended the practice of male circumcision in a letter to his German counterpart. He's the latest high-profile figure to weigh in on a debate over a German court ruling which declared it illegal.


But despite differences of opinion, the Ethics Council had, said its Chair Christian Woopen, come to the conclusion that circumcision should be allowed albeit under qualified medical supervision, with anesthetic, and provision of comprehensive information to the parents beforehand about possible risks of the procedure. http://www.worldcrunch.com/page-2/culture-society/after-circumcision-ban-german-courts-target-child-ear-piercing/circumcision-ear-piercing-freedom-of-religion-bris-mutilation/c3s9427/#.UD-8S6Bj6GQ

As reported by The Times of Israel, Ehrenberg had become the second German rabbi to be charged in connection with remarks he made regarding the current circumcision controversy raging in that country. In June, a Cologne court declared the ritual illegal. As a direct consequence of that ruling, a German citizen last month filed a police complaint against Rabbi David Goldberg, from the Bavarian town of Hof, who said he had performed hundreds of circumcisions in recent years.


Charlotte Knobloch, the former head of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, wrote a stinging editorialon Wednesday attacking the circumcision debate, calling talk of a Jewish revival a sham and wondering whether she was right to spend her adult life defending Germany.
In July, the lower house of parliament passed a resolution to protect religious circumcision and the government has promised a new law to make clear that doctors or families will not be prosecuted for carrying out the procedure.

But the debate has gone on. Doctors and politicians have weighed in, warning about supposed health risks and infringements of infants' rights.
"It didn't occur to me even in my nightmares that I should have to ask myself the question ahead of my 80th birthday whether I was allowed to survive the murder of the Jews to have to witness this," wrote Knobloch.

Berlin's state prosecutors have now been told not to charge doctors if the boy's parents proved the procedure was religiously motivated and of "religious necessity", and they had consented in writing. It was also a requirement for parents to be informed of the medical risks of circumcision.
This must be done before the child is old enough to take the decision himself. Only doctors will be legally allowed to perform the procedure, because the Berlin state does not have the power to authorize a Jewish person trained in circumcision to carry out the ritual.

The assembly of the city Jewish community passed a unanimous resolution saying, “this is flagrant interference in a Jewish tradition going back more than 3,000 years.”
A mohel is trained in the circumcision of baby boys and must live strictly according to kosher rules. Jewish groups said it would be rare to find a man who is both a mohel and a doctor at the same time.
The city-state said immunity from prosecution would apply on its territory if doctors used painkillers and obtained written parental consent and proof that the family belonged to a Jewish or Muslim community. Two other states said they had set similar conditions.

"This is a basic element in Judaism, a foundation stone," she said. "This is not an issue only for religious or ultra-Orthodox people." People may think circumcision is primitive, Itzik added, but it is not the government's job to decide, though they can regulate the practice and license mohels.
She also pointed out that Israelis are especially sensitive to Germany, and as such, Merkel must stop the criminalization of circumcision. http://www.jpost.com/JewishWorld/JewishNews/Article.aspx?id=284138

Several hundred people have held a demonstration in the German capital, Berlin...
The protest was supported by more than 50 organizations and institutions, including the German Protestant Church and the Berlin archbishopric.
The chairman of the Turkish Community in Germany, Kenan Kolat, also spoke at the rally.
The slogan of the rally was "For religious freedom, against criminalization and paternalism."

Diplomats admit the ruling has proved "disastrous" for Germany's international image, particularly in light of its Nazi past, following uproar from religious and political leaders in Israel as well as Muslim countries
The leader of Germany's Jewish community, Dieter Graumann, told the same publication it was "unbearable" that Jews were being portrayed as "child torturers" for carrying out the practice.
About four million Muslims and more than 200,000 Jews live in Germany.

The bitter tone of the debate over the legality of circumcision has shocked Jews living in Germany and reopened old wounds. In light of what many report are ongoing difficulties, some are now wondering if the country truly wants them.

Spiegel Interview with the German Interior Minister (various issues)
Friedrich: My impression of the debate on circumcision is that many people are only using this as an opportunity to whip up anti-Israeli sentiment under the guise of factual arguments. But the debate also shows today's declining appreciation for the value of religion and religious symbols and rites. In addition to the anti-Jewish prejudices of right-wing extremists, we have the anti-Semitism of young Islamic immigrants. We are all called upon here to voice our opposition to this, also by showing civil courage in our daily lives. .... Are we now going to introduce a religious test? That cannot be the answer. Religion requires Jews and Muslims to circumcise their boys. We should respect this...

Under the proposed change to Germany's Civil Law Code, the removal of a boy's foreskin by a doctor would still amount to bodily harm but this would no longer be defined as a punishable offence.
Aside from doctors, a religious practitioner, if skilled like a surgeon, could also conduct circumcisions on infants under six months of age.
Prior to the procedure, parents must receive full information.
The guidelines also state that circumcision cannot be carried out on boys with hemophilia and those whose welfare is at risk.
A spokesman for German Justice Minster Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger said the change should remove the legal uncertainty left by the Cologne ruling.

Amidst debates over the ongoing criminalization of male circumcision in Germany, head of the Directorate-General for Religious Affairs (Diyanet) Prof. Mehmet Görmez said he will deliver a speech at Bundestag upon an invitation, while emphasizing that his speech will not necessarily focus on the value of circumcision from a religious perspective.
...Görmez will go to Bundestag to deliver a speech that he said will focus on his objection against the banning of religious symbols and that the place of circumcision in Islam will not be the focus of his speech.


Below is the much discussed German laws:


Freedom of religion in Germany is guaranteed by article 4 of the Basic Law (constitution). This states that "the freedom of religion, conscience and the freedom of confessing one's religious or philosophical beliefs are inviolable. Uninfringed religious practice is guaranteed."In addition, article 3 states that "No one may be prejudiced or favored because of his gender, his descent, his race, his language, his homeland and place of origin, his faith or his religious or political views." Any person or organization can call the Federal Constitutional Court of Germany for free help Wikipedia



Parent's have full rights to bring their children up in a religious environment.

From the same wikipage in German:

Grundrechtsberechtigt ist prinzipiell jedermann (Deutsche und Ausländer). Die Mündigkeit von Minderjährigen über ihr religiöses Bekenntnis zu entscheiden, ist jedoch erst mit der Einsichtsfähigkeit gegeben. Die Befugnis der Eltern, über das religiöse Bekenntnis des Kindes zu entscheiden, ist durch das Gesetz über die religiöse Kindererziehung geregelt. Auf die Religionsfreiheit können sich auch Gruppen (z.B. Religionsgemeinschaften) berufen (kollektive Religionsfreiheit).
 Loose translation:
Everyone is entitled in principle (German and foreign) the fundamental right of Religious Freedom. You can decide your own religious beliefs after you fully understand what it entails. Parents have the authority to decide on the religious faith of the child. This is governed by the law on religious education of children. Freedom of religion is also valid for religious communities' collective religious freedom. (for example - collectives, and communities) This is called collective freedom of religion.

The substantive scope of Article 4 of the Constitution is understood widely, with paragraphs 1 and 2, to be construed as a single protected area. The 2nd Paragraph is merely clarifying character in regard to the exercise of religion.

It goes on further to discuss all the different freedoms one has, and is not over on the English page. It's very technical but basically goes on to say the decision on the Headscarf rule is that teachers represent the state and are not allowed to make personal religious statements, which is why teachers who are Hijabis are not allowed to wear them and keep their job. Nuns, however, are allowed to keep their habit - because they generally work within the private school sector and are not "officials of the state". Likewise, teachers who are ideologically opposed to teaching the religious coursework or attend class-related worship in the school, are not required to do so.




Article 4 [Freedom of faith, conscience, and creed] (1) Freedom of faith and of conscience, and freedom to profess a religious or philosophical creed, shall be inviolable.
(2) The undisturbed practice of religion shall be guaranteed.


Article 6 [Marriage and the family; children born outside of marriage]
(1) Marriage and the family shall enjoy the special protection of the state.
(2) The care and upbringing of children is the natural right of parents and a duty primarily incumbent upon them. The state shall watch over them in the performance of this duty.


Article 33 [Equal citizenship; professional civil service]
(3) Neither the enjoyment of civil and political rights, nor eligibility for public office, nor rights acquired in the public service shall be dependent upon religious affiliation. No one may be disadvantaged by reason of adherence or nonadherence to a particular religious denomination or philosophical creed.
See also http://www.iuscomp.org/gla/statutes/GG.htm


While freedom of religion allows one to celebrate holidays as we see fit, you will find that things like Purim will clash with the rules in place for the observances for Easter holidays here (no public dancing, drinking, partying - in some states) - but that you are allowed to do as you see fit as long as it's not infringing on other people's rights, and even paganism is protected by the Basic German Law.

Circumcision as a rite within Judaism has been a protected right in Germany.



Below is the Talmudic discussion of circumcision as regards Metitza B'peh and other methods, and also the passages that discuss circumcision as valid and called for within Judaism.



Circumcision is a positive mitzvah [whose lack of fulfillment] is punishable by karet, as [Genesis 17:14] states: "And an uncircumcised male who does not circumcise his foreskin - this soul will be cut off from his people."
 Circumcision and the Paschal sacrifices are the only positive commandments for which the Torah prescribes punishment if they are not fulfilled. In both instances, the punishment is the same (karet).

karet - Premature death at the hand of God (Mo'ed Katan 28a) and a severe spiritual punishment, the "soul's being cut off," and not being granted a share in the world to come (Hilchot Teshuvah 8:1,5).Chabad

These are "forever" commandments not set aside in the NT, either by Y'shua or Paul.

It is my understanding that Metzitzah B'Peh is not widely practiced, and for many within Judaism it is considered a condemnable practice.  It is something every parent would discuss with the mohel and ensure they do not do. When I was researching it, only suction used was medical, not Metzitzah B'Peh.

According to OU (Orthodox Union)

 

We only find metzitzah b’peh as a requirement by the kabbalists, who assert that one must mitigate the strict attribute of justice with the mouth and lips.
http://www.ou.org/index.php/jewish_action/article/8976/P1/

They quote a passage from the Mishnah that advocates suction, but nowhere does it say it has to be from the mouth. And anyone who has studied archaeology and such, knows there were suction methods even if there is no physical evidence of them outside of writing.


The mishnah in masechet Shabbat states: “We perform all necessary acts for the milah on Shabbat: We circumcise, tear the mucosal membrane [peri’ah], we suction, and we place upon the wound a bandage with cumin powder.”6

In the ensuing gemara, Rav Papa states: “Any mohel that does not suction creates a health danger [sakanah], and we therefore remove him from his post.”7 
] In 1888, reacting to a pervasive negative attitude toward metzitzah b’peh, Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch and Rabbi Azriel Hildesheimer, chief rabbis of Frankfurt and Berlin respectively, came out with a joint ruling that advocated doing metzitzah using a newly invented device, the metzitzah tube. This was a glass tube, about 6.5 centimeters long, that was wide on one end and narrow on the other (see diagram). It could be placed over the area of the brit milah and the mohel could place his mouth over the narrow end of the tube and suction the blood with his mouth, without there being any physical contact between the mohel and the infant or the infant’s blood. This method was viewed as more in keeping with the tradition of suctioning with the mouth than the Chatam Sofer’s previous dispensation of using a moist sponge, and at the same time it protected both the infant and the mohel.http://www.ou.org/index.php/jewish_action/article/8976/P2/

Rav Yosef Dov Soloveitchik reported that his father, Rav Moshe Soloveitchik, would not permit a mohel to perform metzitzah b'peh with direct oral contact, and that his grandfather, Rav Chaim Soloveitchik, instructed mohalim in Brisk not to do metzitzah b'peh with direct oral contact, either.
Another element of concern is the elevation of metzitzah b'peh from an ancillary step not even considered part of the mitzvah, to a "halakha l'Moshe miSinai," a law transmitted by Moses on Mount Sinai.

... The other element of this discussion is that the Hareidi community does not recognize the opinions of secular individuals or government authority in relation to religious matters...
http://www.jewishideas.org/articles/metzitzah-bpeh-oral-law

And over and over on Mohel's websites, you will find something like this:

I do not perform metzitzah b’peh and I never have. When I trained as a mohel, my understanding then and now is that the Talmud explains metzitzah as a method to prevent illness by drawing blood away from the wound to remove impurities. The center of this controversy is how metzitzah should be performed.http://www.emohel.com/lifeordeath.htm

Looks like the Satmar community convened on June 28th to discuss the issue

So, basically we're talking about a minority of a minority (ultra orthodox / Haredi) community that do this, who do not listen to anyone non-haredi.

As far as I know, Metzitzah B'Peh is not practiced at all within the German-speaking Jewish community. I seem to remember it having been mentioned as deplorable when I was looking at whether or not we had an option of a bris, and found out we do not because I am not Orthodox, and I am not a convert.

Doctors will not perform a circumcision within Germany unless there is a medical reason to do so. This is very different from the USA, but I do not think it is deplorable.

So, those of you who wondered if I had heard of this or would discuss it - I'm throwing this all out there in cyberspace for discussion.



UPDATE 12/12/2013:

...a year after coming into effect, the law is now a complete failure - at least according to critics, who say circumcision represents a violation of a child's physical integrity. Boys, critics said, often do not undergo the procedure under safe conditions and without appropriate pain relief.
Deutsche Welle - German circumcision law still under fire

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for your great information, the contents are quiet interesting.I will be waiting for your next post.
    life sciences

    ReplyDelete