The Desirable Way
The thinking on circumcision has swung wildly over the years. It’s been practiced by Jews and Muslims for thousands of years, but didn’t become common in this country until the 20th century. By one estimate, only 25 percent of U.S. male newborns were circumcised in 1900.
It gradually became the cultural norm, and in the 1950s and 1960s surpassed 80 percent. But then the trend reversed…
But even as the circumcision rate dropped, more medical evidence came in supporting it — particularly three rigorous and influential studies in Africa that looked at the spread of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases in circumcised and uncircumcised men and their partners.
In the new guidelines, the CDC says there is now strong evidence that male circumcision can:
–Cut a man’s risk of getting HIV from an infected female partner by 50 to 60 percent.
–Reduce their risk of genital herpes and certain strains of human papillomavirus by 30 percent or more.
–Lower the odds of urinary tract infections during infancy, and cancer of the penis in adulthood.
How does this prove Tanakh?
1 And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the LORD appeared to Abram, and said unto him: ‘I am God Almighty; walk before Me, and be thou wholehearted. 2 And I will make My covenant between Me and thee, and will multiply thee exceedingly.’ 3 And Abram fell on his face; and God talked with him, saying: 4 ‘As for Me, behold, My covenant is with thee, and thou shalt be the father of a multitude of nations. 5 Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham; for the father of a multitude of nations have I made thee. 6 And I will make thee exceeding fruitful, and I will make nations of thee, and kings shall come out of thee. 7 And I will establish My covenant between Me and thee and thy seed after thee throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee and to thy seed after thee. 8 And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land of thy sojournings, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.’ 9 And God said unto Abraham: ‘And as for thee, thou shalt keep My covenant, thou, and thy seed after thee throughout their generations. 10 This is My covenant, which ye shall keep, between Me and you and thy seed after thee: every male among you shall be circumcised. 11 And ye shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token of a covenant betwixt Me and you. 12 And he that is eight days old shall be circumcised among you, every male throughout your generations, he that is born in the house, or bought with money of any foreigner, that is not of thy seed. 13 He that is born in thy house, and he that is bought with thy money, must needs be circumcised; and My covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant. 14 And the uncircumcised male who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin, that soul shall be cut off from his people; he hath broken My covenant.’
Indeed, b’rit milah (whether dati or chiloni) has been proven to be what G-d said that it would be. HaMedinat Yisra’el ranks in the top half of the good rates (e.g., birth, fertility, life expectancy, and population growth), and the low end of the bad rates (e.g., the HIV/AIDS rates and the mortality rates for mothers and infants). As for the Jewish communities in the Diaspora, we probably contribute the good numbers for each of the rates in each of the countries.
Take Monaco, for example: they have the greatest life expectancy and almost no (if any) HIV/AIDs. They also have a recognizedℵ Jewish community who they blessed♥ during World War Two, and the majority of their population is Roman Catholic∗. Meanwhile, the surprisingly-few circumcised Monegasques are probably mostly recognized Jews. If the 2007 WHO Report statistic can be extrapolated across the board, the “probably” becomes a “likely”π:
Male circumcision continues to be almost universally
practised among Jewish people. For example,
almost all newborn Jewish males in Israel (2), an
estimated 99% of Jewish men in the United Kingdom
of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (3) and 98% of
Jewish men in the United States of America are circumcised
The United States‘ rates, meanwhile, are positively comparable in terms of life expectancy to Israeli and Monegasque rates, and negatively comparable in terms of HIV/AIDS. Unlike Monaco and Israel, the United States (including its recognized Jewish community) is moving away from religiosity. This, of course, is influencing b’rit milah in the United States, too.
The point, then, is this: holding to the Covenant With Avraham, whether in relation to Torah or with no relation to Torah, produces what results G-d both expressed and implied that it would, even as many sadly move away from Tanakh.
The Less-Than-Desirable Way
Steven Hayes unfortunately demonstrated what G-d means by “this people draw near, and with their mouth and with their lips do honour Me, but have removed their heart far from Me” and “And when they came unto the nations, whither they came, they profaned My holy name; in that men said of them: These are the people of the LORD, and are gone forth out of His land..” :
Steven Hayes, convicted of killing a mother and two daughters, sued the Department of Correction in August, alleging the preparation practices for kosher meals in the kitchen at the state’s highest-security prison do not conform to Jewish dietary laws.
Hayes describes himself in the lawsuit as an Orthodox Jew and says he’s been requesting a kosher diet since May 2013. He says he has suffered “almost two years of emotional injury from having to choose between following God and starving or choosing sin to survive.”
In other words, Steven Hayes was fine with violating “Lo tirtzach” (“this people…have removed their heart far from Me”) and not with eating treif (“this people draw near, and with their mouth and with their lips do honour Me”). Then at least some of us wonder why G-d says that “men said of them: These are the people of the LORD, and are gone forth out of His land..” (and, sadly, trust me: the Anti Semites are having a field day with Steven Hayes as an example).
∗And whether Roman Catholics and others like or hate the facts, Roman Catholicism is an offshoot of Nazarene Judaism. Roman Catholicism also puts a significant emphasis on sexual purity as did Ancient Judaism, and as do many sects of Judaism today—even Reform Judaism:
One note of clarification: regarding contemporary authorities, the author writes that the rabbis of all movements forbid sex outside marriage. This is imprecise. While most Orthodox and Conservative rabbis do consider sex outside marriage inappropriate, most Reform and Reconstructionist (and some Conservative) rabbis are less severe in their language. The official position of the Reform movement is that sex outside of marriage is not ideal, but it is not considered “forbidden.” Few Reconstructionist rabbis would disapprove of all sex outside mar.
ℵ “Recognized” means “counted as Jews by Rabbinical standards”.
π Given the math, the recognized Jewish community is ~3.3% of the Monegasque population (1000/30,508).