>>>>> TODAY, I CAUGHT THE FOLLOWING YEA-AND-NAY EXCHANGE (MOSTLY NAY) ON THE MEDICAL PROCEDURE OF CIRCUMCISION — WHICH JEWS HAVE CHERISHED AS “BRIS MILAH,” A RITUAL OF COVENANT SINCE ABRAHAM.

I HAVE ATTACHED A SELECTION OF THE MOST PROVOCATIVE LETTERS AMONG THEM.

AT THEIR CONCLUSION, I HAVE INCLUDED MY OWN COMMENTARY, DEFENDING THE JEWISH VIRTUE OF BRIT MILAH, TRYING TO RESTRAIN THE HEAT UNDER MY COLLAR FOR  A   THOUGHTFUL RESPONSE.

PLEASE READ ON . . .

>>> PETE G:  I love this protest. When I was in my 20s and working in a hospital, I witnessed three babies getting circumcised, strapped down around legs, chest and heads, no anesthesia, screaming like I have NEVER heard babies scream, and I swore I would never do that if I had sons. It should definitely be a choice made by boys when they are older and would be given something to numb the pain during and after.

>>> SHARON M: Miracle My mother said that when my (2nd eldest) brother, Scott, was born, in 1955, she heard a baby screaming down the hall from her hospital room. She said it was the most horrible sound she ever heard from a baby. She later found out that the sound was my brother being circumcised, and she vowed that if she had any more boys, she would never allow it again.

>>>LUCY B.H.: I saw these guys today and had no idea what their signs said. My son made the choice not to circumcise his two sons. When my children were born, there wasn’t even a conversation about this. It was just the thing that was done.

>>> WILLIAM G.: At one time it was thought to be a health benefit. I think that that is largely disproved.

>>> ROBERT S.: I say leave natural things they way they are

>>> ROBERT S: Marc Wilson, you call this a Cherished Tradition

>>> ROBERT S.: I would not call it a Cherished Tradition, its something doctors told a parent they ;have to do and made it sound like if they didn’t God would strike them dead, but that is not so not getting cut doesn’t make a bit of difference.

>>>>> MY RESPONSES, IN SUMMARY <<<<<

>>>>> MARC WILSON: As I (don’t) recall, my bris didn’t hurt at all, and I certainly did not wind up in the hospital!    (Apologize for the levity.) The screaming is usually mitigated at a bris by the baby sucking on a Mogen David soaked gauze for anesthesia. Shall the doctors do not try the same? Restraint? Usually gently performed using fingers and thumbs by the sandek (often by the grandfather or other elder) under the supervision of the mohel.

>>>>> MARC WILSON: I have circumcised 50+ infants — no infection, no excessive bleeding, no cockeyed peeing, no over-cut or under-cut . . . no Steve-to-Eve. But I have seen plenty of phymosis, smegma irritation and infection, occlusion, and penile constriction among uncircumcised boys, most of which can only be resolved by major surgery by a pediatric urologist. We will not relinquish a cherished tradition, especially to specious medical double-talk.

>>>>> MARC WILSON: Yes, I stand by my assertion, brit milah is the most cherished observance since the time of Abraham. I’ve assisted an Orthodox cardiovascular surgeon in performing britot, and he taught me the procedure at Mount Sinai Hospital. They then certified me as a mohel. I have assisted urologists in performing britot in at Emory in Atlanta, including a corrective bris (tethered penis) for my own son, and at St. Francis in Greenville, including an adult bris.

Apparently, a large proportion of the medical community, while not necessarily recommending the bris, still endorses its legitimacy. Yes, it is an ongoing cherished tradition, including even among modern professionals. Gentiles should accept it as an optional procedure, endorsed by the cherished biblical tradition, but never hostilely berated.

>>>>>MARC WILSON: Jewish tradition does not have the concept of “strike them dead,” for the demurral of any mitzvah. Pure ignorance and an affront to Jewish ethos.

>>>>>MARC WILSON: NB — I HAVE NOT DEALT WITH THE ISSUE OF METZITZAH BI-PEH (SUCKING OUT THE “BAD BLOOD,”).

This practice, which has been rejected by the tremendous majority of mohalim, except perhaps the most Charedi ones. The prohibition by many poskim goes back to the 19th century, or even before, for sanitary reasons. To this day, almost all mohalim and rabbonim concur.

MARC WILSON is a retired rabbi who writes from Greenville, SC.