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March 10, 2006 7:22 AM   Subscribe

Why are some religious rituals acceptable (NSFW), some marginal, and others illegal? Surely, a grown man sucking the blood out of the penis of a just-circumcised little boy should be, shouldn't it? And we're not even considering infecting the baby with herpes [full article from the NY Times].
posted by sluglicker (179 comments total)

 
Rabbi Jeremy Rosen has a few good things to say on the subject.

"Recently the New York City Health Department has said it is issuing warnings. This is because one particular mohel (that’s the guy who does it) has infected three children over a ten-year period, one fatally, by giving it herpes when he put his lips to the cut to draw blood. This practice, called metzitzah, traditionally disinfects the wound and helps the healing. (Indeed, it is one of the amazing things about circumcisions how quickly they do heal). It is a tradition as old as the Mishna and probably the Torah. In most Orthodox circles it is still adhered to, though repeated fears of infection led many rabbis to permit the use of a glass tube to do it. Every mohel I have ever seen washes his mouth out with disinfectant beforehand (once upon a time vodka was considered enough, no longer!) so perhaps the New York fellow was rogue and you do get rogues in any profession. But of course human life is so precious and Halacha so insistent on preserving life that I believe that if there is reasonable doubt custom should be dispensed with. Not a fashionable point of view in resurgent Orthodoxy nowadays."
posted by Captaintripps at 7:29 AM on March 10, 2006


Care to indicate if any of these links is NSFW? Some of them (first, two last) sound "risky"...
posted by qvantamon at 7:29 AM on March 10, 2006


Intent counts- this is why we (generally) don't arrest parents who take pictures of their kids in the bathtub, or let their toddlers run down the beach completely nude. Drugs is drugs is illegal (though a recent ruling about hallucinogenic tea may change the way religion is allowed to approach peyote,) and killing is killing and in general, killing things is irreversible.

That said, science has marched on, Judaism tends to march with it, and it's probably time to figure out another, equally kosher, way to stanch the blood from a bris- just *to* prevent passing around communicable diseases. That's the only thing they should be considering, and the only thing gentiles should be worried about.
posted by headspace at 7:31 AM on March 10, 2006


and killing is killing and in general, killing things is irreversible

As compared to cutting a kid's foreskin, which is...?
posted by qvantamon at 7:34 AM on March 10, 2006


Oh boy, here we go again.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 7:35 AM on March 10, 2006


Should it be illegal? No, of course not: the context makes it batty, not sexual. But then I've known fathers who'd let their infant daughters sit in diarrhea because washing them "down there" might get them accused of "child abuse."

I do think somebody who's planning on putting his lips near a fresh wound should make sure he doesn't carry oral herpes though, and such transmission would obviously qualify him for being mightily sued. Seeing as how this infection can be fatal the "to save a life" exception would let him do something else, in my lay goyish opinion. Maybe dip the kid's weenie in a glass of wine instead?
posted by davy at 7:39 AM on March 10, 2006


Don't get me started.

Alright, do. Infant circumcision done for any reason other than genuine medical need is child abuse, and should be outlawed.

I simply cannot understand how anyone can fail to see this.
posted by Decani at 7:40 AM on March 10, 2006


I predict great things for this thread.
posted by anomie at 7:40 AM on March 10, 2006


Sluglicker's debut thread. This is called "coming out, swinging."
posted by crunchland at 7:45 AM on March 10, 2006


Care to indicate if any of these links is NSFW? Some of them (first, two last) sound "risky"...

First one contains grainy images of the procedure, second an article on animal abuse, third an article I'm not risking as the address includes the word peyote and the last few are all picture-free articles.
posted by katiecat at 7:46 AM on March 10, 2006


This practice, called metzitzah, traditionally disinfects the wound and helps the healing.

I'd lay even money that if anything disinfects anything during metzitzah that it would be the disinfectant the rabbi put in his mouth.

Gross!
posted by illovich at 7:46 AM on March 10, 2006


Me, Personally, I like my circumcision. :D
but thankyou jesus i had it done at a hospital.

and thank you jesus im a gentile, its so much nicer living without herpes :D

kkty
posted by kou5oku at 7:47 AM on March 10, 2006


I'd like everyone to remember that you are not going to change anyone's mind about the acceptability of circumcision. No matter your opinion of it, no matter another's opinion of it—you are both going to walk away from this feeling the same way.

So let's keep the polemics to a minimum, OK?
posted by S.C. at 7:50 AM on March 10, 2006


I've known fathers who'd let their infant daughters sit in diarrhea because washing them "down there" might get them accused of "child abuse."

Are you serious? That is insanity!!
posted by cell divide at 7:50 AM on March 10, 2006


The AIDS reserach indicates that those circumcised are much less likely to contract that disease. That said: you want it for religious reasons, go for it. You ought not take one case of herpes from one rather small percentage (orthodox Jews) as threatening the nation. How many patients die by "mistake" in hospitals? I am reading about a woman whose husband died after a prostate op that was routine.

Is circumcision abuse? as much as punching holes in the ears of baby girls at a very early age, perhaps. But as in amost things, you decide. I was circumcised and never felt the need to sue my parents for mutilating me without my consent. But that may be because they few assets.
posted by Postroad at 7:51 AM on March 10, 2006


These dudes killed our Jesus and you're going to argue how they treat their kids' weenises?
posted by Mayor Curley at 7:56 AM on March 10, 2006


"I've known fathers who'd let their infant daughters sit in diarrhea because washing them "down there" might get them accused of "child abuse."

"Are you serious? That is insanity!!"

Isn't that why God invented those hoses with sprayers next to the sink's faucet?
posted by Gungho at 7:57 AM on March 10, 2006


Mayor Curley:
You know who else hated jews?

Nah... to obvious...
posted by qvantamon at 7:59 AM on March 10, 2006


Is this really another circumcision thread? Is this really one which uses stories of Wacky Jews to make it's rhetorical point?
posted by OmieWise at 7:59 AM on March 10, 2006


Hey, Jesus was circumcised too.

Just sayin', is all.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 8:00 AM on March 10, 2006


Isn't that why God invented those hoses with sprayers next to the sink's faucet?

Why don't the mohels use those?
posted by fleetmouse at 8:00 AM on March 10, 2006


So tell me this -- Why are children allowed to be hauled out of their homes every morning for nine months out of the year, thrown onto ugly yellow buses, and forced to sit grouped in small rooms for six hours against their will? This practice goes on for a minimum of ten or eleven years, and is legally enforced. There is no scientific evidence that this practice results in "learning" in any useful sense. The power that the state has over children -- to subject them to ritualized victimization -- dwarfs anything religions can do.
posted by Faze at 8:07 AM on March 10, 2006


I wonder who sucked Jesus' penis.
posted by The Jesse Helms at 8:11 AM on March 10, 2006


I have no problems with circumcision. I just don't get it. But I grew up in a culture where circumcision is practically unheard of.

I do have issues with a person using his mouth to disinfect, well, anything. Considering that the human mouth than I care to think about on a regular basis. Illovich is right, the only thing that gets disinfected in the process is the rabbi's mouth.
posted by slimepuppy at 8:11 AM on March 10, 2006


...the human mouth has more bacteria than I care to think about...
posted by slimepuppy at 8:13 AM on March 10, 2006


Oh my friend the abuse carries on from there.

As far as I can tell Im midway through adult life and I have discovered that I am continually being subjected to activities that stifle my creative process and perhaps prohibiting my creation of colder fusion (less than room temp!).

no seriously, everyday I must jar myself awake with an electronic leash colloquially known as a clock. Then I have to pilot a vehicle through torturous traffic, and sit at a desk all day solving stoopid problems.

So someone save us from this tyrannical machine.



I think everyone should shed their clothes now and come to the beach, I have made some lovely sculptures from the kelp...
posted by kou5oku at 8:17 AM on March 10, 2006


At this time of year, should we be more concerned that Jews are killing babies for their blood?
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:18 AM on March 10, 2006


I predict great things for this thread.
And we haven't been let down.
posted by GuyZero at 8:19 AM on March 10, 2006


So tell me this -- Why are children allowed to be hauled out of their homes every morning for nine months out of the year, thrown onto ugly yellow buses, and forced to sit grouped in small rooms for six hours against their will?

don't forget, most of these rooms are of the most aesthetically unpleasing variety around - bare concrete walls and for christ's sake, flourescent lighting (the worst evil in my opinion). i'll always remember fondly the all too rare days when class was held outside under the sun.
posted by visit beautiful mount weather! at 8:21 AM on March 10, 2006


I wonder who sucked Jesus' penis.

"This is my blood, drink."
posted by telstar at 8:22 AM on March 10, 2006


Alright, do. Infant circumcision done for any reason other than genuine medical need is child abuse, and should be outlawed.

I had a circumcision as an infant and didn't feel particularly abused at the time. Or at any point going forward.

Lighten up.
posted by delmoi at 8:24 AM on March 10, 2006


I think everyone should shed their clothes now and come to the beach, I have made some lovely sculptures from the kelp...

party at Bohemian Grove!
posted by visit beautiful mount weather! at 8:24 AM on March 10, 2006


Why are some religious rituals acceptable, some marginal, and others illegal?

I don't know, why do some people worship the incorrect god?
posted by Space Coyote at 8:27 AM on March 10, 2006


seriously though, how did this practice (circumcision) become mainstream? or is it? aren't most men these days, regardless of religious affiliation cut as youngins?
posted by visit beautiful mount weather! at 8:27 AM on March 10, 2006


These dudes killed our Jesus and you're going to argue how they treat their kids' weenises?
posted by Mayor Curley at 7:56 AM PST on March 10 [!]


Those dudes killed their Jesus....with his circumcised weeny.
posted by semmi at 8:28 AM on March 10, 2006


This practice goes on for a minimum of ten or eleven years, and is legally enforced. There is no scientific evidence that this practice results in "learning" in any useful sense.

?!? You do not consider science, math, reading, or writing to be useful learning? Or are you saying that you did not learn those things in school?
posted by pardonyou? at 8:35 AM on March 10, 2006


The power that the state has over children -- to subject them to ritualized victimization -- dwarfs anything religions can do.

So homeschool or private school if you have a problem with state education?
posted by glider at 8:38 AM on March 10, 2006


I wonder who sucked my penis.
posted by The Jesse Helms at 8:38 AM on March 10, 2006


Was it Jesus?
posted by The Jesse Helms at 8:38 AM on March 10, 2006


No, that was me. Hi, I'm OmieWise.
posted by OmieWise at 8:40 AM on March 10, 2006


If anything, at least it explains the Catholic priest phenomenon as more or less a crossover religious experience.

Be quite, choir boy, your mother will hear you! And so will the Jews!
posted by The Jesse Helms at 8:41 AM on March 10, 2006


Seriously, though, in regards to the child abuse question: I had it done, I don't consider it child abuse. Every Jewish man I know had it done and does not consider it child abuse. The percentage of Jewish men who think they were somehow abused by being circumsized is so miniscule as to be statistically unimportant. Since we're the ones who were supposedly abused, don't we get to decide what is and isn't abuse?

As for what gentiles do with their own cocks, well, that's their business.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:44 AM on March 10, 2006


grinning greatly the gentile gently groped his grotch
posted by kou5oku at 8:46 AM on March 10, 2006


Dammit, obese people need to start personal responsibility and stop whining at the rest of us!!!

(oh wait, wrong non-productive Mefi argument)
posted by selfmedicating at 8:47 AM on March 10, 2006


Every Jewish man I know had it done and does not consider it child abuse.

Someone didn't consider throwing jews in the oven abuse as well, go figure.
posted by elpapacito at 8:48 AM on March 10, 2006


This practice goes on for a minimum of ten or eleven years, and is legally enforced. There is no scientific evidence that this practice results in "learning" in any useful sense.

?!? You do not consider science, math, reading, or writing to be useful learning? Or are you saying that you did not learn those things in school?
posted by pardonyou? at 11:35 AM EST on March 10 [!]


Salient quote is "no scientific evidence that..." but what I think was meant is--"scientific evidence is contradictory and no single conclusive evidence shows that..."

It is one of those arguments used against public edcuation by those who know that learning happens but deny that educators have any part in that. The problem is that there are so many variables that making universal principles of education is impossible. Instead, it is contextual, local, and may not be "provable" using quanitative methods.

But as we say in compositions studies--if the student didn't improve in 15 weeks, s/he wasn't (prepared, motivated, capable) but if s/he did, s/he had a great teacher!

(posted by Not klangklangston)
posted by klangklangston at 8:49 AM on March 10, 2006


This practice, called metzitzah,

how in the hell can you catch herpes from a mezuzah????

no, seriously: this anti-metzitzah b'phe thing is soooooooo tired at this point. it's just not done anymore the old-skool way, mohelim use a sterile surgical instrument to suction the blood. the point of metzitzah is to clean the wound, not to have the mohel use his mouth, for G-d's sake.

let's hear it from a mohel, and please excuse the long quote but it solves this thread's central question:
I do not perfrom metzitzah b’peh and I never have. When I trained as a mohel 28 years ago, 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.

Performing metzitzah using one’s mouth is primarily a Chasidic custom. Many in the Chasidic community insist that direct oral contact (i.e. b’peh) is the only acceptable way to perform metzitzah. The Chatam Sofer (Rabbi Moshe Sofer) in his responsum to Rabbi Eliezer Horowitz defines the word metzitzah as “squeezing,” and not “suction.” The Chatam Sofer clearly states that if there is any danger whatsoever associated with metzitzah b’peh, it should not be done “b’peh” (with the mouth), but instead should be performed via the use of a gauze pad (s’fog).

Metzitzah can be performed; just the custom of performing it with the mouth (“b’peh”) should be eliminated.

The average Jewish family doesn’t know that most non-Chasidic Orthodox mohels don’t perform metzitzah b’peh. Not only do I not perform metzitzah b’peh, I wear gloves, autoclave my instruments and maintain the highest levels of aseptic technique. Even worse, this story has turned many Jewish families away from even having a bris altogether and given incredible ammunition to the anti-circumcision crowd. The continued public discussion of what is really a non-issue for the majority of observant mohels practicing today is causing incalculable damage to a beautiful mitzvah.
posted by matteo at 8:49 AM on March 10, 2006


selfmedicating:

don't leave yet. You can start a brand new argument about forced circumcision on obese people.
posted by qvantamon at 8:50 AM on March 10, 2006


and by the way, brit milah Genesis 17:9-14
posted by matteo at 8:56 AM on March 10, 2006


Circumcision is fucking stupid and barbaric. Sucking a kid's dick is even more fucked up. I don't remember reading about that in the Bible.
posted by wakko at 8:59 AM on March 10, 2006


matteo bevetized the thread.
posted by qvantamon at 9:00 AM on March 10, 2006


Excuse the long quote but it solves this thread's central question

You are excused and it really solves the question, except one : why the fuck are babies subject to the practice ? Wait till they are legally consentient adult..or without throwing law in this, wait a few years after puberty.

Similarly baptizing a kid shouldn't be done , yet unless it's done with infected saint-water (which is a likely even) the kid can just say "fuck that" later in life..restoring a foresking is hardly that easy.
posted by elpapacito at 9:00 AM on March 10, 2006


It's not safe for the baby, and should never ever be done that way. (it's more disgusting too--it's hard enough to watch a bris in real life, without this added in.)

I think that should be the rule for all religious rituals, but generally only the majority gets their rituals ok'd and/or enshrined as national holidays, unfortunately.
posted by amberglow at 9:01 AM on March 10, 2006


It totally is barbaric, but it's not uncommon...ritual mutilation has been around as long as people have.

It's far more dangerous for adults or older kids to be circumsized tho--there are far more risks, not least of which is erection (even tho some babies get involuntary ones too)
posted by amberglow at 9:02 AM on March 10, 2006


First one contains grainy images of the procedure, second an article on animal abuse, third an article I'm not risking as the address includes the word peyote and the last few are all picture-free articles.
posted by katiecat at 5:46 AM HST on March 10 [!]


yeah, and all expired, abstracted articles at that...

"sexuallymutliatedchild,org"?? wtf is this shit post?
posted by naxosaxur at 9:05 AM on March 10, 2006


damn, clicked "post" instead of preview, sorry:

and by the way, brit milah comes from Genesis 17:9-14 and it's a key part of the Covenant between God and the Jewish people -- Abraham promised that he would teach his descendents to worship God and God promised to protect the survival of Abraham's descendants -- ie the Jewish people. brit milah in this day and age means that you keep believing in the Covenant and in God's promise, that there would always be Jews.

let me repeat that: that there would always be Jews.

given a couple millenia of pogroms and, you know, the Shoah, I really think that any sane (if uncircumcised) Goy should be respectful of that old tradition. hence, one is free to keep one's (or one's baby) wee-wee intact. but sometimes a cut is not just a cut.
posted by matteo at 9:05 AM on March 10, 2006


how did this practice (circumcision) become mainstream? or is it?

It actually no longer is. Thankfully.
posted by wakko at 9:06 AM on March 10, 2006


seriously though, how did this practice (circumcision) become mainstream? or is it? aren't most men these days, regardless of religious affiliation cut as youngins?
posted by visit beautiful mount weather! at 1:27 AM JST on March 11


I don't think so. Most of the people I know who aren't Jews, Muslims or Americans think it's kind of a weird thing to do.
posted by Jenga at 9:07 AM on March 10, 2006


why the fuck are babies subject to the practice ? Wait till they are legally consentient adult..or without throwing law in this, wait a few years after puberty.

if a man wants to convert to Judaism (Reconstructionist at least - not sure about other branches) he must go through a similar procedure in which he is "pricked" (no pun intended) on the . . . well. . prick. I'm not Jewish so I don't know the specifics but that thought always made me cringe.
posted by visit beautiful mount weather! at 9:08 AM on March 10, 2006


seriously though, how did this practice (circumcision) become mainstream?

If you really want to know, read:

FROM RITUAL TO SCIENCE:
THE MEDICAL TRANSFORMATION OF CIRCUMCISION IN AMERICA


It really is a fascinating story.
posted by Otis at 9:10 AM on March 10, 2006


Babies are circumsized because it is safer and is relatively minor surgery. Circumsizing an adult or even an older child is a more signidicant undertaking, with larger risks.

I think I'm going to spend the rest of the day going up to people whose young daughters have pierced ears and accuse them of abusing their child, mutilating a part of their body, remind them how barbaric the practice is, and demand to know why they didn't wait until their child was 18. I'm just not sure I can get my voice to the right tone of shrillness.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:10 AM on March 10, 2006


how did this practice (circumcision) become mainstream? or is it?

It actually no longer is. Thankfully.


wakko, do you have an idea of when this began to be fazed out? I'm 28 and circumcised, and (this is a whole other story) frankly I used to work security at a uhhhh 'parlor' of sorts. the nature of that job required me to see a lot of cock over 1.5 years - most guys were circumcised
posted by visit beautiful mount weather! at 9:12 AM on March 10, 2006


It's really waned as standard newborn practice lately. It's still a majority tho, i believe. (and many families want their kids to match the dad)

I've heard that's really nothing, visit--just a pinprick so a drop of blood comes out--not at all as invasive.
posted by amberglow at 9:13 AM on March 10, 2006


how did this practice (circumcision) become mainstream? or is it?

It actually no longer is. Thankfully.


wakko, do you have an idea of when this began to be fazed out? I'm 28 and circumcised, and (this is a whole other story) frankly I used to work security at a uhhhh 'parlor' of sorts. the nature of that job required me to see a lot of cock over 1.5 years - most guys were circumcised
posted by visit beautiful mount weather! at 9:13 AM on March 10, 2006


whoops, sorry!!
posted by visit beautiful mount weather! at 9:13 AM on March 10, 2006


Cool - thanks Otis!
posted by visit beautiful mount weather! at 9:15 AM on March 10, 2006


What people really should get angry about is the ritual genital mutilation of women not for religious purposes.
posted by amberglow at 9:17 AM on March 10, 2006


I've heard that's really nothing

amberglow, why not watch for yourself (graphic obviously) and make an informed judgement?
posted by Otis at 9:21 AM on March 10, 2006


the next time i come across a circumsized guy, i swear im going to the police station with him and having his parents immediately arrested for child abuse. i know now that his parents are really fucking cocksucking multilating barbarians.
posted by naxosaxur at 9:22 AM on March 10, 2006


I want my foreskin back. :(
posted by thefreek at 9:25 AM on March 10, 2006


amberglow was referring to the convert circumcision in Reconstrucitonist Judaism, Otis.
posted by Captaintripps at 9:26 AM on March 10, 2006


the next time i come across a circumsized guy

NSFW.
posted by chococat at 9:28 AM on March 10, 2006


I'm not necessarily against circumcision, but I would just like to say how odd it is that Hasidics cannot cut the hair at their temples but are expected to have their foreskin snipped off.

Any religions out there where you can't cut your nails at all?
posted by furtive at 9:29 AM on March 10, 2006


amberglow was referring to the convert circumcision in Reconstrucitonist Judaism, Otis.
posted by Captaintripps at 12:26 PM EST on March 10 [!]


Sorry, I misunderstood the comment then. My bad.
posted by Otis at 9:31 AM on March 10, 2006


Any religions out there where you can't cut your nails at all?

The Howard Hughes House of Eccentricity
posted by visit beautiful mount weather! at 9:32 AM on March 10, 2006


Probably not bad to have a video up anyway. There are probably a lot of people who have never been to a bris or watched the procedure happen in a hospital.
posted by Captaintripps at 9:32 AM on March 10, 2006


MetaFilter: cocksucking multilating barbarians
posted by matteo at 9:38 AM on March 10, 2006


What people really should get angry about is the ritual genital mutilation of women not for religious purposes.

truth!
posted by teishu at 9:50 AM on March 10, 2006


yup, Otis --- i meant the symbolic thing adults do when they convert. I've been to my nephews' brises--i've seen it close up.

i know teishu! we always fight about this here, and rarely about what they do to women (maybe because more people here agree in detesting it or something?)
posted by amberglow at 9:56 AM on March 10, 2006


I could easily see circumcision changing to become more like that symbolic thing in the future, tho. We're good at moving with the times (esp. us Reform Jews), and if society really finds better, truly solid medical reasons not to, we would. So far, in terms of medical stuff that has come up, it's shown a slight benefit--in disease reduction and transmission to others (which makes it a good thing).
posted by amberglow at 10:00 AM on March 10, 2006


amberglow: What people really should get angry about is the ritual genital mutilation of women not for religious purposes.

It is sick, isn't it.. What makes you the arbiter who decides what qualifies as a religious purpose though?
posted by Chuckles at 10:05 AM on March 10, 2006


I'm ecstatic at the though that the goyishe kopf stop getting circumcised.
posted by Captaintripps at 10:09 AM on March 10, 2006


All I know is that I'm glad we had a girl and didn't have to make this decision/incision. I am seriously conflicted about this, although I don't mind at all that I had this operation done a half a century ago. Of course, I don't remember it, and neither does any other circumcized male - which is a salient point in this argument...or whatever you want to call this strange thread.
posted by kozad at 10:18 AM on March 10, 2006


I may be a Gentile, but I've a yiddisher kopf and a cut penis.
posted by OmieWise at 10:20 AM on March 10, 2006


cut little kopf?
posted by matteo at 10:25 AM on March 10, 2006


You forgot SMEGMA!
posted by bardic at 10:29 AM on March 10, 2006


Well, if those slanty-eyed Oriental savages could the light and stop binding feet, I'm certain we can convince the Jews to stop cutting and sucking baby cock. It's what Jesus wants.

posted by furtive Any religions out there where you can't cut your nails at all?

The Church of Batshit Insane Freaky Women.
posted by fandango_matt at 10:29 AM on March 10, 2006


I was at a Hasidic Briss (circumcision ceremony) this very morning at the Orthodox Synagogue here in Budapest. For one thing, there was no need to staunch the blood, for another the kid cried a bit for about ten seconds and then was quiet again. It amazed me. The point being it was a good Mohel. An experienced pro.

A lot of the comments here are meant to be funny but a huge amount of ignorance and barely concealed smarmy prejudice is tainting the soup. (Kind of like a bunch of suburban white kids dressed in Fubu telling "nigger jokes" and nobody really appreciating the meta-humor.)

People telling observant Jews to change their traditional practices to conform to relatively "modern" outlooks is patronizing and culturally imperialistic. We Jews will probably reform our custom of circumcizing infant boys about the same time when non-Jews outlaw things which we also forbid to our group as in-group repellant, such as body piercings, tattoos and the eating of swine.
posted by zaelic at 10:36 AM on March 10, 2006


I think I'm going to spend the rest of the day going up to people whose young daughters have pierced ears and accuse them of abusing their child, mutilating a part of their body, remind them how barbaric the practice is, and demand to know why they didn't wait until their child was 18. I'm just not sure I can get my voice to the right tone of shrillness.
Well, isn't it barbaric to inflict pain on an infant for no benefit other than a perceived cosmetic 'improvement'? At least with the circumcision business, some people seem to think it can bring health benefits. Not so two more holes in a baby's head.
posted by fish tick at 10:48 AM on March 10, 2006


no Reform Rabbi or cemetary will refuse a tattoo'd or pierced body for burial nowadays.

This is an interesting conflict: Biblical Israelites May Have Had Tattoos --and later there: ...Tattooing is an explicit prohibition from the Torah. However, those who violate this prohibition may be buried in a Jewish cemetery and participate fully in all synagogue ritual. While no sanctions are imposed, the practice should continue to be discouraged as a violation of the Torah. At all times a Jew should remember that we are created b'tzelem Elokim. We are called upon to incorporate this understanding into all our decisions. ...
posted by amberglow at 10:51 AM on March 10, 2006


oh, zaelic, did the baby have a wine-soaked handkerchief to suck on, or do Hasidics not do that?
posted by amberglow at 10:52 AM on March 10, 2006


We Jews will probably reform our custom of circumcizing infant boys about the same time when non-Jews outlaw things which we also forbid to our group as in-group repellant, such as body piercings, tattoos and the eating of swine.

While ignoring, of course, that body piercings, tattoos, and the eating of swine are generally chosen by the person who takes part in them. They're not a permanent medical procedure done at birth before a person has any choice in the matter.

As for people who give their kids early piercings, I think that's pretty messed up, too, but at least those heal closed, given time...
posted by vorfeed at 11:00 AM on March 10, 2006


and from there (a really good site for people who want to learn about us), and O/T but important, one of the Conservative arguments in favor of gay rabbis and gay marriage--they're going to be voting at the end of the year--Reform already allows it all.
posted by amberglow at 11:03 AM on March 10, 2006


People telling observant Jews to change their traditional practices to conform to relatively "modern" outlooks is patronizing and culturally imperialistic.

yes and no.
"modern" outlook is one thing. recklessly risking a baby's health is another. I'm sure you're aware that certain traditions like, say, infibulation, are illegal in many Western countries -- first do no harm, remember?

I'm sure that you're aware that according to Gemara not performing metzitzah is dangerous for the baby. since then, science has demonstrated that the Gemara is wrong -- and metzitzah b'phe can be dangerous.

so I'm happy that _your_ local rabbi doesn't do metzitzah b'phe, but advocating the change of that traditional practice (just the b'phe part, of course) makes sense -- it wasn't deemed dangerous before the discovery of germs but now we know it is. nobody wants to erase brit milah, zaelic, you're building a straw man -- most Jews (and most mohelim) simply discarded the dangerous metzitzah b'phe part of it. because it's dangerous. you cannot blame the Gemara for its lack of scientific knowledge -- it simply is not a science book. to argue otherwise ias like arguing that earth is 4,000 yeard old (except, crazy ideas about creation don't infect babies with herpes)
posted by matteo at 11:07 AM on March 10, 2006


Attended my nephew's bris last month -- (modern) Orthodox mohel, autoclaved instruments, surgical gloves, and a very wine soaked infant. The child cried for a few minutes and then fell asleep. It was a lot harder on the child's mother than on the little boy. And while there were no lips-on-the-penis, there was a lovely brunch afterwards.

BTW, this thread isn't complete without a link (via the iTunes Music store, iTunes required) to the old SNL commercial for the "Royal Deluxe II", the luxury car with handling so smooth you could perform a circumcision in the back seat. "Poi-fect!"
posted by mosk at 11:40 AM on March 10, 2006


Here's my take - which I guess you could describe as either fair and balanced, or frustratingly schizoid (full disclosure: I'm a cantor in a liberal Jewish congregation):

Even though I ritually assisted (by handing our mohel the knife) at my own son's brit milah last year, and although I think a large percentage of the current anti-circumcision movement are anti-semetic dickheads (ironic, ain't it?), I am completely sympathetic to those inside the Jewish community who are increasingly choosing to question, and sometimes forego, the act of circumcision. My feeling is, as mainstream (non-Jewish) America continues to move away from automatically circumcising boys in the hospital (I think it's down from 90% to somewhere closer to 50% now), American liberal Jews will eventually, slowly, follow suit.

Look, if my son wasn't Jewish, I probably wouldn't have done it either, but for now, I believe that the symbolic and communal (and, hey, even spiritual) values of this tradition outweigh my personal squeamishness and, since I too (along with any Jew I've ever met) have no ill memories of my own circumcision, I felt comfortable engaging in this oldest practice of our tradition.

BTW, since I didn't find out the sex of our child before hand, I actually spent a good amount of time researching and creating an ear-piercing covenant ritual (brit ozen), in case we had a girl. My feeling is, in order for there to be complete equality between men and women in modern Jewish practice, there needs to be an equally dramatic (and symbolic) ritual for entry into the covenant. And since I wasn't about to engage in female circumcision, I focused on ear piercing, which is done in some Hindu customs at infancy as well, and carries a biblical association of servitude (see Exodus 21:5-6; in this case, to God) that echoes the first circumcision (which Abraham performed on Ishmael, btw, not Jesus).

Oh, and sluglicker, I want the last twenty minutes of my life back, you trolling bastard. :-)
posted by ericbop at 11:45 AM on March 10, 2006


MetaFilter: No lips-on-the-penis, but a lovely brunch afterwards.
posted by fandango_matt at 11:48 AM on March 10, 2006


comparing ear piercing to a procedure that permanently removes a part of a human beings' genitals is stupid.
posted by crabintheocean at 11:52 AM on March 10, 2006


i converted, and they did the ritual dick-prick... it wasn't so bad. interestingly, the rabbi used the same kind of disposable injection needles that my dad uses to draw a drop of blood for checking his blood sugar.

my gut instinct has always been against circumcision, but one argument that has swayed me... i fell in love with a jewish girl and converted, and thank god i was circumsized as a kid, cos otherwise i'd have had to get it done... AS AN ADULT... which is a serious medical operation & quite frankly i can't bear thinking about it a moment longer.

but anyway, if we have kids and they're boys, and we raise them with any sort of jewish tradition... then they might end up falling for jewish girls, in which case the whole cycle repeats & they'll probably be glad they're already circumsized.

i heard it helps you last longer due to decreased sexual sensitivity. i'm gonna assume that's true whether or not it is!

definitely a complex issue.
posted by jcruelty at 11:53 AM on March 10, 2006


Holy cow! A thread where fuller finds himself nodding in agreement with matteo and amberglow. Never say never!
posted by jfuller at 11:58 AM on March 10, 2006


What most people don't realize, or have forgotten, is that Judaism permits forgoing virtually any Jewish observance that threatens the life of another person.

In fact, there is some evidence that the Jewish custom of waiting 8 days before the circumcision is to be sure that the baby has no medical problems that would make a circumcision dangerous. For example, if the baby appears to have a bleeding problem, the circumcision should not be done.

It is absurd (or worse) to suggest that Jewish tradition or practice would mandate anything that might hurt another person. Until recently, there was no evidence that this metzizah b'phe can be dangerous. Now that this is known, the practice has virtually been abolished.

So, the main point of the original thread, the notion that Judaism mandates practices that are dangerous for babies is nothing more than a pernicious slur.
posted by DrAmy at 12:05 PM on March 10, 2006


Eh. I'm circumsized. My son is not. When I was a baby, there were claimed medical reasons why it was a good idea. Those haven't really held water, and so I didn't see a good reason to do it. Also, I talked to my mother, who said "everyone said it should be done, so I said okay, but as soon as you started screaming I realized I'd made a mistake."

Then again, I have friends who circumcized their son "so that he would look like his father", nothing more. But that's their kid, and who the heck am I to interfere?
posted by davejay at 12:22 PM on March 10, 2006


So, the main point of the original thread, the notion that Judaism mandates practices that are dangerous for babies is nothing more than a pernicious slur.

I actually thought the main point of the original thread was to initiate discussion about people doing bad things in the name of religion, not about the religions mandating they be done.
posted by davejay at 12:23 PM on March 10, 2006


posted by davejay people doing bad things in the name of religion, not about the religions mandating they be done.

I think those are the same thing.
posted by fandango_matt at 12:40 PM on March 10, 2006


Even worse, this story has turned many Jewish families away from even having a bris altogether and given incredible ammunition to the anti-circumcision crowd.

I'm not entirely sure how a reduction in circumcision rates is "even worse" than some cock-sucker killing babies with herpes.

I'm circumcised, I think it has had no impact whatsoever on the quality of my life, I'd never have a son of my own circumised, and would never want to stop anyone else from coming to a different decision for their own son. And at the same time, I think circumcision is an archaic and unnecessary practice, and expect that it will fall out of favour with almost the entire population over time.

Patience, anti-circumcision-folk: things are moving the way you want them to.
posted by five fresh fish at 12:54 PM on March 10, 2006


By the way, shouldn't the herpes-infected, baby-killing mohel be in prison? There's no way the man did not know he was a herpes carrier.

I know we've arrested and jailed HIV+ men who have deliberately infected others. I can not see any reason why the mohel should not be subject to the same laws.
posted by five fresh fish at 1:00 PM on March 10, 2006


> I think those are the same thing.

Mmmm. I sense a difference between "people do freaky bad things in the name of religion" and "Jews do freaky bad things."

posted by jfuller at 1:00 PM on March 10, 2006


Amberglow - no, the baby wasn't given any wine-soaked kerchief to suck on. The Mohel who performed the ceremony comes from the same background - from Monsey - that was the forcus of the original investigation.

Ericbop: The people who did the ceremony this morning are about as far removed from "mainstream" media and mass culture as can be imagined. They were Satmar hasids. They don't read Metafilter, or any of the regular Jewish press for that matter. Unless the issue gets discussed in the Brooklyn newspaper Der Yid, they wouldn't take notiuce of the controversy.

The Mohel who used to secretly do the cutting in Budapest before 1990 - it was a crime to do a briss under communism - was a simple butcher, about a third of his jobs were botched, sending the kid to the hospital within five years. Another unofficial Mohel, however, was both the brother of a hasidic rabbi and a urologist. He eventually set up a special surgery unit for religious circumcisions in a hospital. The briss I attended this morning was a traditional one performed by ultra -orthodox Hasidic jews, in a Synagogue, with the men separated from the women. The Mohel was about 70 years old, and had obviously been honing his skills for a long time.

Mine, actually, was performed at my parents' house, and one of my father's friends once reminisced about how drunk the Mohel was at my briss. Which explains a lot. And no, I'm not a hasid...
posted by zaelic at 1:03 PM on March 10, 2006


five fresh fish: Please read the article. It quite plainly states:

"Most people with oral herpes don't know they are infected and have no symptoms, the city Health Department said. Even without symptoms, people can spread the infection."

So yes, it is quite possible the Rabbi had no clue he was infected. Are you?
posted by Captaintripps at 1:12 PM on March 10, 2006


And no, I'm not a hasid...

of course, you're on the Internet on a Friday night after sundown...
;)
posted by matteo at 1:13 PM on March 10, 2006


comparing ear piercing to a procedure that permanently removes a part of a human beings' genitals is stupid.

Well, if you say so. I would argue it's a matter of degree.

Listen, the bris is not just some minor religious ritual to Jews. It is the defining ritual. It is act that represents the Jewish covenent with God. It is the action that Abraham did to seal his contract with YHWH, and the moment he became a Jews, and Judaism started.

To tell Jews that one of their most fundamental religious behavior is child abuse because you personally find it distasteful is essentially antisemitic, whether you mean it to be or not.

Sure, it's a permanent modification of a child's body. What else do we decide for our children? Let's see. We decide what language they'll speak. We decide to inoculate them (which carries some health risk). We decide what part of the world they'll live in. We decide what food they'll eat. We decide if they get braces. All of these decisions permanently change a child.

We get to make these decisions because we are their parents, and, unless somebody can actually prove that these decisions are harming the child, they get to keep their noses out of our business. I am sure that there are vegetarians who would argue that feeding a child meat is abusing them. I am sure that there are new agey-types who would argue that inoculating a child is permanently damaging them. They're entitled to their opinions, but unless they can actually make their case beyond expressing their disgust, they don't get a say in the matter. Except, of course, to choose to raise their children differently.

You think it's digusting, you think it's mutilation, fine, don't circumsize your sons. I won't say peep. I happen to find it to be a ritual of enormous significance, and would appreciate it if you would mind your own damn business.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:21 PM on March 10, 2006


... but I play one on TV...
posted by zaelic at 1:21 PM on March 10, 2006


Astro Zombie: Well said.
posted by zaelic at 1:23 PM on March 10, 2006


Then again, I have friends who circumcized their son "so that he would look like his father", nothing more. But that's their kid, and who the heck am I to interfere?

This is kind of the trap I figure I will fall into. I'm a chick, and I've never been with an un-circumsized guy, so it's what I'm most comfortable with. I always figured I'd circumsize my son if I have one because, well, to me that's "normal". (Really, I've only seen 'em uncut in pictures.)
posted by iguanapolitico at 1:29 PM on March 10, 2006


To tell Jews that one of their most fundamental religious behavior is child abuse because you personally find it distasteful

Well, if you say so. I would argue it's a matter of degree.

is essentially antisemitic, whether you mean it to be or not.

Just because something is the basis of a religious practice does not make it beyond reproach. Please. Next you'll be telling me that I'm anti-mesoamerican for objecting to human sacrifice.

By the way, is there a corallary to Godwin's that is invoked whenever there are accusations of antisemitism?
posted by rafter at 1:33 PM on March 10, 2006


Well said Astro Zombie.
posted by OmieWise at 1:39 PM on March 10, 2006


By the way, is there a corallary to Godwin's that is invoked whenever there are accusations of antisemitism?

Not when people are actually being antisemitic. Just like you're actually allowed to talk about Nazis when the subject of the thread is Hitler.

If you can't tell the difference between ritual circumsizion and human sacrifice, you shouldn't have a part in this discussion. If you really think circumsizion is hugely harmful and grotesque, prove your case. Believe me, if you can make the case, beyond simple preference, Jews will stop doing it. But, until that point, you're attempting to give your own prejudices the weight of morality, and when that moralizing is against one of Judaism's most cherished practices, I call it antisemitism.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:40 PM on March 10, 2006


If you can't tell the difference between ritual circumsizion and human sacrifice, you shouldn't have a part in this discussion.

I hoped that comment would come across reductio ad absurdum. I wasn't making a point about circumcision, but about claiming that just because something is Judaism's "most fundamental religious behavior" that anyone is (even unconciously) antisemitic for opposing the practice.

Which is, of course, absolute bullshit.
posted by rafter at 1:52 PM on March 10, 2006


And you'd be wrong Astro Zombie.

Look, you had me at "My kooky mythology dictates that I perform this bizarre, medically unnecessary procedure on an eight-day old human being, so leave me and my people alone."

Now you're saying that anyone who points out the obvious is antisemetic? I don't get it.

(BTW, I'm 9 1/2 inches, cut, hangin' left)
posted by bardic at 1:55 PM on March 10, 2006


Reductio ad absurdum is a fallacy.

But, for the sake of argument, I will retract my antisemitism claim and replace it with the claim that people who don't like circumsision and think even Jews shouldn't do it have the burden of proof in making their case. If they're speaking from nothing beyond a personal preference, they're being essentially uncivil.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:56 PM on March 10, 2006


When the anti-circumcision crowd starts protesting and disrupting brises (sp?) and putting mohles on death lists, you'll have a point. As a cut goy, I actually don't feel that strongly. It's a religious practice, and like most of them it tends to strike me as silly.
posted by bardic at 2:03 PM on March 10, 2006


Arguing against circumcision doesn't make you an anti-semite - calling Jewish tradition a "kooky mythology" does.

And well-said, Astro Zombie.
posted by ericbop at 2:04 PM on March 10, 2006


(And my penis isn't really that small.)
posted by bardic at 2:04 PM on March 10, 2006


ericbop, I'd offer to give you the emails of some of my Jewish family members to get their opinion on my so-called anti-Semitism, but I'm afraid you'd bore them to death. Shalom.
posted by bardic at 2:08 PM on March 10, 2006


Actually, while I am Jewish, I think it's okay to see Judaism as kooky. It is pretty kooky. But we have the right to our kookiness.
posted by Astro Zombie at 2:08 PM on March 10, 2006


By the way, shouldn't the herpes-infected, baby-killing mohel be in prison? There's no way the man did not know he was a herpes carrier.

In retrospect, I suppose that he could very well have infected several babies before any one of them died from it, in which case he wouldn't have known about the problem in time to put a halt to it.
posted by five fresh fish at 2:13 PM on March 10, 2006


> We get to make these decisions because we are their parents, and, unless
> somebody can actually prove that these decisions are harming the child,
> they get to keep their noses out of our business.

Welcome to the officious-nanny mindset, Astro Z. Distasteful, isn't it? If some officious nanny sees you do something that isn't as bland as cottage cheese, they'll send the officious-nanny police to make you stop.


> Arguing against circumcision doesn't make you an anti-semite - calling
> Jewish tradition a "kooky mythology" does.

One hopes Jews will begin to notice that Jewish tradition is no longer welcome among aggressively secularized lefties, and that Jews will increasingly look for a different crowd to hang with.

posted by jfuller at 2:16 PM on March 10, 2006


I think Astro Zombie put it extremely well in someone else's MetaTalk callout of an Ask Metafilter thread:

"Unless somebody's trying to pass a law against circumsision, people's opinions on the subject don't effect me, and the so-rabidly-anti-circumcision-that-even-Jews-shouldn't-get-them crowd bothers me beyond what is good for my blood pressure."
posted by Captaintripps at 2:20 PM on March 10, 2006


Sure jfuller, because there's never been such a thing as Jewish atheist.
posted by bardic at 2:23 PM on March 10, 2006


*a Jewish atheist*
posted by bardic at 2:25 PM on March 10, 2006


Reductio ad absurdum is a fallacy.

While I leave the door open for a reasonable argument that my above example was fallacious, reductio ad absurdum is not in itself a fallacy and can be a useful logical tool.

Not to make this too methodical, but you posited:
1. Circumcision is essential to Jewish tradition.
2. People in this thread compared circumcision to child abuse.
3. Therefore, those people are antisemitic.

My reductio ad absurdum is that:
1. Moral criticism of religious practices amounts to prejudice against the religious/ethnic group in question. (Your claim.)
2. Human sacrifice was essential to Aztec tradition.
3. Therefore, I'm anti-mesoamerican if I object to human sacrifice.
4. 3 is obviously false, therefore 1 must be false.

But, for the sake of argument, I will retract my antisemitism claim and replace it with the claim that people who don't like circumsision and think even Jews shouldn't do it have the burden of proof in making their case.

Fair enough. It seems to me, though, that circumcisers (I'm not just talking about Jews, of course) have the burden of proof — after all, they are the ones making a permanent physical change to the body of a nonconsenting infant.

If they're speaking from nothing beyond a personal preference, they're being essentially uncivil.

This is true, but I think you need to realize that steadfast circumcision opponents are not merely speaking from personal preference, but are making a moral criticism. Here I stress the "permanent physical change to the body of a nonconsenting infant": it's not as if this is a matter of someone thinking yarmulkes look silly or somesuch (which would certainly tinge of antisemitism) — while you, of course, are of a different position, in the eyes of circumcision opponents there is a fairly clear (even if relatively minor) harm being done.
posted by rafter at 2:34 PM on March 10, 2006


Wow. I just posted here without having to post.
posted by Astro Zombie at 2:36 PM on March 10, 2006


So, if a Jew decides not to circumcise his son, but not for a medical reason, is the son considered to not be Jewish? Even if he learns Hebrew and reads the Torah at his Bar Mitzvah and all of the other stuff?
posted by stavrogin at 2:38 PM on March 10, 2006


1. Thank you matteo. That's about all that needs to be said on the metzitzah b'phe issue.

2. On a related note, I'd like to thank slucklicker for composing an FPP linking to a website called sexuallymutilatedchild and calling for the criminalization of the alpha Jewish ritual. Lovely, that.

3. Will everyone please read S.C.'s comment and not ever post anything to MeFi about circumcision again, ever?
posted by kosem at 2:40 PM on March 10, 2006


Then again, I have friends who circumcized their son "so that he would look like his father", nothing more.

See, this I don't get at all. Who besides the mother is going to be familiar with the appearance of both the child's and the father's penises?
posted by rafter at 2:41 PM on March 10, 2006


don't leave yet. You can start a brand new argument about forced circumcision on obese people.

What's the point? They won't be able to see them anyway.

One hopes Jews will begin to notice that Jewish tradition is no longer welcome among aggressively secularized lefties, and that Jews will increasingly look for a different crowd to hang with.

Please. Head over to the thread about vegans vs. carnivores and see how much this has to do with"secularized lefties."
posted by Amanojaku at 2:51 PM on March 10, 2006


So, if a Jew decides not to circumcise his son, but not for a medical reason, is the son considered to not be Jewish? Even if he learns Hebrew and reads the Torah at his Bar Mitzvah and all of the other stuff?

stavrogin, he's Jewish if Mom is Jewish. Learning Hebrew isn't what makes one Jewish, and a Bar Mitzvah is about becoming a man in the eyes of the community, not what makes one (or doesn't make one) a Jew.
posted by Amanojaku at 2:56 PM on March 10, 2006


Please. Head over to the thread about vegans vs. carnivores and see how much this has to do with"secularized lefties."

Uh ... that point could have been made a little better. Try: "Head over to the thread about vegans vs. carnivores and see how much this kind of dismissal of some points of view has to do with 'secularized lefties.'"
posted by Amanojaku at 2:58 PM on March 10, 2006


The truth is, you can do anything just short of apostacy and still be seen as being Jewish. In fact, some consider apostates to be Jewish, but sort-of bad Jews.

Secularized lefties have sometimes been bad to the Jews in the past, but much less so that religious righties. I'll stick with the crowd that helps me the most and hurts me the least, thank you.
posted by Astro Zombie at 2:59 PM on March 10, 2006


What about Jewish secularized lefties?
posted by bardic at 3:28 PM on March 10, 2006


> What about Jewish secularized lefties?

Well, that is surely a point of curiosity. AZ explained above,

> the bris is not just some minor religious ritual to Jews. It is the defining ritual.
> It is act that represents the Jewish covenent with God. It is the action that
> Abraham did to seal his contract with YHWH, and the moment he became
> a Jews, and Judaism started.

What then does the bris represent if, God being a primitive superstition we have outgrown, the notion of a covenent with God ceases to be, y'know, operative? If secularized Jews continue to practice circumcision (I don't know) what lesser motive for the ritual replaces "this shows that I am a Jew because I have covenented with YHWH"? To me that's a really really interesting question. I imagine I am not the first to ask it.

posted by jfuller at 5:35 PM on March 10, 2006


(Indeed, it is one of the amazing things about circumcisions how quickly they do heal).

One of the amazing things about no circumcision is how quickly absolutely nothing bad happen. Amazing, I tell ya.
posted by NewBornHippy at 6:08 PM on March 10, 2006


One hopes Jews will begin to notice that Jewish tradition is no longer welcome among aggressively secularized lefties, and that Jews will increasingly look for a different crowd to hang with.

One knows, of course, that trying to leave the world a little better than you found it is one of our chief responsibilities as Jews. One knows, of course, that living in this world now (i.e., secular) is why we are here in the first place. One knows, of course, that Jewish tradition both expects and demands agressive words and actions against injustice. One knows, of course, that we know where our interests lie, and it's not with righties.
posted by amberglow at 6:52 PM on March 10, 2006


One of the amazing things about circumcision is how completely I don't give a shit having had one.
posted by Captaintripps at 6:53 PM on March 10, 2006


making mountains out of mohels.
posted by moonbird at 8:54 PM on March 10, 2006


after moonbird: case closed.
posted by kozad at 9:06 PM on March 10, 2006


It's amazing that God would leave us with such imperfect bodies that we would have to chop parts off.
posted by ryoshu at 2:08 AM on March 11, 2006


Doctors Opposing Circumcision
posted by telstar at 6:02 AM on March 11, 2006


ryoshu: ever get a haircut?
posted by zaelic at 7:01 AM on March 11, 2006


This is just the last word competition, isn't it.
posted by Captaintripps at 7:24 AM on March 11, 2006


You all have convinced me. I'm suing my parents for abuse. I'm also suing them for getting me braces, which permanently modified my naturally perefect body, including the removal of four adult teeth, which was certainly a much larger amount of my body removed that my foreskin and was just as permanent -- and was done for exclusively cosmetic purposes. Additionally, unlike my circumsision, I actually remember getting braces, and it hurt like hell.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:41 AM on March 11, 2006


Braces straigthen otherwise crooked teeth. What therapeutic value does circumcision have?
posted by telstar at 8:54 AM on March 11, 2006


Makes the penis look nicer.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:54 AM on March 11, 2006


welcome among aggressively secularized lefties, and that Jews will increasingly look for a different crowd to hang with

this crowd, jfuller? really?
not even 9-11 managed to convert the Jews, jfuller -- even your buddies have given up in their efforts.

strangely, American Jews still vote 75-25 for the Democratic candidate to the Presidency (blacks don't seem to like your candidates, either -- what is it, 90-10?). they mustn't have received your memo about those savage lefites.

see, persecuted people sense very well who their friends are. or simply, they just go to the cinema.
;)

your question re: the Jewish identity of non-literatist Jews is indeed very interesting. I liked this story.
posted by matteo at 9:15 AM on March 11, 2006


Makes the penis look nicer.

That's cosmetic, not therapeutic.
posted by telstar at 9:35 AM on March 11, 2006


As was the reason for me getting braces.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:17 AM on March 11, 2006


Astro Zombie, sure, but I don't get scalped. I was on the fence about the issue until I saw the Penn & Teller Bullshit episode about circumcision. I had never seen one done and I'm circumcised. I don't remember it, so I figured it couldn't be that bad.

My FSM, how wrong I was. Watching a baby get circumcised is horrific. It's obvious that the child is in agony. Not some small amount of discomfort, complete agony.
posted by ryoshu at 12:24 PM on March 11, 2006


And I have seen circumcisions where the child hardly stirs. Sounds as though they may have been rather selective in their choice of film clips.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:08 PM on March 11, 2006


Then again, I have friends who circumcized their son "so that he would look like his father", nothing more.

See, this I don't get at all. Who besides the mother is going to be familiar with the appearance of both the child's and the father's penises?


The child and the father?

I mean, duh, right, but it might be really important to those two parties to share something like this. A lot of parents want their kids to share the father's last name, too.
posted by tristeza at 1:55 PM on March 11, 2006


It is painful--that's why the wine-soaked hanky to suck on (if it's done at home at a bris). If it's done in a hospital, they use topical anesthetic, i think (like dentists use), but i'm not sure.
posted by amberglow at 2:07 PM on March 11, 2006


You know what else causes babies to cry and scream as though they were being tortured with a baseball bat?

Being hungry. Not getting enough sleep. People with big noses. Vaccum cleaners. Kisses from their grandmother.

Pretty much anything, for that matter.
posted by Astro Zombie at 2:55 PM on March 11, 2006


"It is painful--that's why the wine-soaked hanky to suck on (if it's done at home at a bris). If it's done in a hospital, they use topical anesthetic, i think (like dentists use), but i'm not sure."

I believe the anesthetic is not just used in the hospital.

By the way, I'm sure it's painful--how could it not be--but how painful? You're gauging a baby's perception of pain by crying? Come on!
posted by ParisParamus at 2:59 PM on March 11, 2006


Here's a suggestion: if you don't want to be Jewish, don't get circumcized. If you are Jewish, but don't really care that you are, don't have your kids have a bris; eventually, they're probably resent you for your decision, but they can get circumcized and decide to be Jewish on their own.

And as for the extremely frum Jews who, based on a super-traditional bris that risks spreading disease, if such can truly be demonstrated, the practice should be made illegal. And those who participate in it should be jailed.
posted by ParisParamus at 3:11 PM on March 11, 2006


"I could easily see circumcision changing to become more like that symbolic thing in the future, tho.... (esp. us Reform Jews),..."

Amberglow, from experience, I know that for the overwelming number of its adherents, Reform Judaism is a halfway house between honoring one's parents, and having children who are secular. So no thanks...
posted by ParisParamus at 3:16 PM on March 11, 2006


Astro Zombie, just as long as you know that a baby may be suffering extreme pain while part of his genitalia is sacrificed to your sky god.
posted by ryoshu at 3:35 PM on March 11, 2006


For someone who is circumcised and yet would never do so to his own child, I sure am beginning to develop a big hate-on for the endless assholes who feel it necessary to kick in their two bits about the how monstrously twisted the practice is.

Despite your whinging, the history of hundreds of millions of men shows pretty solid evidence that most circumcised men don't feel they've missed out on anything, have not become emotional cripples because of it, or even have the faintest memory of the operation.

It isn't a big damn deal.
posted by five fresh fish at 3:47 PM on March 11, 2006


P2 Loves F3--temporarily.
posted by ParisParamus at 4:43 PM on March 11, 2006


ATTENTION, ATTENTION ALL JEWS. STOP BEING JEWISH. I REPEAT. STOP BEING JEWISH.

Thank you.
posted by ParisParamus at 5:35 PM on March 11, 2006


I have no sky God. Zombies know no religion.
posted by Astro Zombie at 6:15 PM on March 11, 2006


Zombies worship BRAAAAINNNZZZZ!

Foreskin zombies particularly relish the brains of circumcision zealots, pro or con.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:46 PM on March 11, 2006


What I wouldn't give for an internet savvy mohel to jump into this conversation.
posted by Captaintripps at 8:16 AM on March 12, 2006


Ok I am way late to the thread, but fuck it.

Regarding earring holes:

at least those heal closed, given time...

I haven't had earrings in my ear-holes for at least... 5 years, probably more. They haven't healed shut, and I'm guessing they never will. So they don't always heal.

And as for some babies not crying a lot during circumcision: sometimes babies do a thing where they basically "shut down" during times of extreme crisis. Crying all-out can take a lot of a baby's energy, and if Extreme Major Badness is going on, sometimes the kid's nervous system turns it off, in the interest of self-preservation.

The Mohel who used to secretly do the cutting in Budapest before 1990 - it was a crime to do a briss under communism - was a simple butcher, about a third of his jobs were botched, sending the kid to the hospital within five years.

Some of you asked for evidence of real harm - there ya go. There is risk involved.

Yeah, there is a miniscule risk from leaving it alone - the child may have a medical need for a partial or full circumcision later on, but this is quite rare indeed.

And just in general: what kind of fucked-up deity requires you to cut part of your body off in order to be considered his? And how come females get off the hook for this? Are they less Jewish, somehow?
posted by beth at 12:54 PM on March 12, 2006


Some of you asked for evidence of real harm - there ya go. There is risk involved.

Oh, ffs. You can not take the example of some incompetent butcher in an East bloc country and think it proves some sort of goddamn general point. Some asshole died the other week because he accidently swallowed his toothbrush. I trust you'll you tell us that means toothbrushing should be banned.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:37 PM on March 12, 2006


beth, it's an old tribal idea--you get scarred or poked or punctured or your neck stretched or lip or whatever, as a visible sign that you're a member of a certain tribe (or alternatively, it's like branded cattle). Orthodox women have stupid things to do too, but none are permanent.
posted by amberglow at 10:58 PM on March 12, 2006


this is interesting: the origins of male circumcision, with a focus on the Muslim perspective --Mohammed was, so Muslim men are--it's not in the Koran--and in Ancient Egypt they apparently circumcized men and women.
posted by amberglow at 11:03 PM on March 12, 2006


Astro Zombie writes "If you can't tell the difference between ritual circumcision and human sacrifice, you shouldn't have a part in this discussion."

But isn't the ritual circumcision actually a stand-in or substitute or re-enactment or re-affirmation of Abrahams's (attempted) sacrifice of Isaac?

Abraham's fealty to G-d made him reluctantly willing to sacrifice Isaac to G-d; G-d let Abraham off that hook. Isn't the bris a re-affirmation that -- if G-d required it -- a Jew would sacrifice his son, and not just a token bit of his son?
posted by orthogonality at 1:54 PM on March 19, 2006


i was never taught that, ortho-- God said to Abraham, "As for you, you shall keep my covenant, you and your offspring after you throughout their generations. This is my covenant, which you shall keep, between me and you and your offspring after you: Every male among you shall be circumcised. You shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskins, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and you. Throughout your generations every male among you shall be circumcised when he is eight days old, including the slave born in your house and the one bought with your money from any foreigner who is not of your offspring. Both the slave born in your house and the one bought with your money must be circumcised. So shall my covenant be in your flesh an everlasting covenant. Any uncircumcised male who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin shall be cut off from his people; he has broken my covenant." (1)
posted by amberglow at 2:04 PM on March 19, 2006


The Isaac thing was about obedience and loyalty and stuff. This is about setting us apart from others as a mark of belonging to this specific group, and based on older ritual tribal stuff.
posted by amberglow at 2:05 PM on March 19, 2006


(and the circumcision thing comes before Isaac is born to ancient Sarah anyway)
posted by amberglow at 2:07 PM on March 19, 2006


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