I have a question about Jewish circumcision - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 22 Old 02-03-2009, 08:24 PM - Thread Starter
 
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So, I've always wondered this...and hopefully some of the Jewish members of this board can help me out...

Is a bris considered a strictly happy occasion? Or is there an element of pain and sacrifice for the parents having to put an infant through it? Or is there something that indicates the infant's sacrifice?

I do think I understand why it is so important to most Jews...but I guess I don't really understand the emotions behind it.

I'm very much against RIC, but really don't know very much about religious circumcision. I'm a Christian and I struggle VERY much with Christian's attitudes towards circumcision and how it's no big deal and because God told the Jews to do it...it must be a good thing for everyone to do. Almost like it's something done just for fun...and that just doesn't seem right to me. I guess I've always looked at part of religious circumcision as a sacrifice on the parent's and the infant's part...and so I don't really understand those attitudes of Christians who think it's such a fun, happy occasion. I mean, I can DEFINITELY understand how it's a happy occasion from a the standpoint of the baby being accepted into the covenant between God and the Jewish people...but is the actual physical act of the circumcision considered a happy thing that people enjoy watching? KWIM?

ETA: I do want to say, too, that I realize that the way a bris is performed is MUCH less painful for an infant than a circumcision done in a hospital setting...so, I'm not comparing the two. However, I would still feel like...if I were in that situation, even if there wasn't much pain, it was still a sacrifice to have to put my son in that uncomfortable situation...and have his blood shed...even if it were for a wonderful reason. KWIM?
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#2 of 22 Old 02-04-2009, 01:11 AM
 
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huh? I know plenty of Christians myself included that are very against circ, I don't think we are allowed to say anything against religious circ at MDC though so I won't say anymore.

You got me totally scratching on this one though

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I realize that the way a bris is performed is MUCH less painful for an infant than a circumcision done in a hospital setting
If you are strictly talking pain from the procedure, I don't agree that Brit Milah is inherantly less painful that RIC done in a hospital or by a well trained Dr.
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#3 of 22 Old 02-04-2009, 10:48 AM
 
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http://mothering.com/discussions/sho...70&postcount=7

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#4 of 22 Old 02-04-2009, 11:35 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by Arduinna View Post
huh? I know plenty of Christians myself included that are very against circ, I don't think we are allowed to say anything against religious circ at MDC though so I won't say anymore.

You got me totally scratching on this one though



If you are strictly talking pain from the procedure, I don't agree that Brit Milah is inherantly less painful that RIC done in a hospital or by a well trained Dr.
I thought we could discuss religious circumcision as long as it was done in the Religious Studies forum? I just thought that MDC took a stance against RIC...not religious circ.

And as far as the pain situation goes, I suppose that's up for debate...but I've seen and heard it mentioned frequently that the way a Mohel performs a circumcision is not nearly as painful as the procedure is performed much more quickly. Although, I suppose that depends on the method used. I'm not saying there's NO pain or that there's even just a little...I'm sure the pain is still quite extensive. Honestly, I have no clue...I only know what I've read and heard about it.

I'm just asking for a Jewish perspective here...(thanks for the link dara00.) Mainly so I have information to educate Christians more thoroughly about why Christians circumcising...for "religious" OR personal reasons...is wrong in God's eyes.
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#5 of 22 Old 02-04-2009, 12:56 PM
 
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I will restate in my own words what Merpk already wrote in dara's link.

The ONLY reason why I did a bris milah on my son is because it's part of a covenant that I have with God, a commandment from him. Unless you have a God-given commandment, I see no reason to subject your child to this pain, whether that pain is less than RIC or not.

A bris is a joyous occasion. It's a public celebration with the new parents about the arrival of their new son and welcoming him into the covenant of Abraham that we've shared with God since our fore-father Abraham circumsized himself. we're bringing our son into our faith, and celebrating that responsibility of that covenant with a permanent change to his body that is a serious message about how we make our bodies vessels for performing mitzvot, and not just about pure physical pleasure.

Performing a bris is not easy. It's not easy on the parents. I cried during my son's bris. I cried that anyone would do this on their children unless that had a commandment from God to do this.

But we also rejoiced.

Usually, a bris is very joyous for the guests, and brings great joy for the parents, at the same time they are concerned that their new baby should have as little pain as possible and heal quickly.
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#6 of 22 Old 02-05-2009, 01:06 AM
 
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We can discuss religious circumcision here, and we do not require that anyone agree or disagree with it at all, but what we don't allow is bashing of others' religions or their religious beliefs or practices. Respectful questions, fine. Respectful disagreements, fine. Insults or disrespectful attitudes, not fine.

Carry on.
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#7 of 22 Old 02-05-2009, 02:31 PM
 
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In my experience, there was an element of pain and sacrifice, but it was very small compared to the joy of performing the Mitzvah, and, in my case, my joy of being able to perform the Mitzvah ON TIME in spite of the circumstances following his birth (hospital transfer "just to get checked out" following an uneventful UC, which resulted in him being held in the NICU for a week on IV antibiotics for absolutely no medical reason other than "he was born outside the sterile hospital".)

I was angry about the situation, angry at my DH for suggesting we go to the hospital, and mostly angry at myself for not standing up to DH and my Mom, since I DID know better, and that, unlike what DH expected, we were unlikely to be evaluated and then sent home within a few hours.

All of that overshadowed concerns about DS' physical reactions- both his pain and the risks of complications. I was just so happy to be home (we were released from the hospital Thursday morning and had the Bris that afternoon.) I was happy to be with all of my children together, and happy to have this opportunity to reconnect to G-d.

Brissim of other babies I've attended have been 100% joyous occasions for me.

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#8 of 22 Old 02-05-2009, 09:13 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by Ruthla View Post
Brissim of other babies I've attended have been 100% joyous occasions for me.
So, nobody is upset that the baby has to experience that pain?

I'm obviously not Jewish, but I don't really understand how getting your baby's genitals cut is not a sacrifice. A sacrifice you're willing to endure because God commanded it, but a sacrifice nonetheless.

I TOTALLY understand why it's a joyous occasion, but don't understand why the sacrifice aspect of it isn't really important.

It's like, for me, Jesus sacrifice is an amazing, beautiful, wonderful thing...because it brought me my salvation. However, that doesn't overshadow the pain and suffering He had to endure...that's what makes the sacrifice so powerful. It's not like He just died...he suffered horribly and died.

I guess I would feel the same way about having my son circumcised if I were Jewish. It would be a wonderful, joyous occasion that he was becoming part of that covenant...but still with a somber, sacrificial element that he was having to endure that pain and suffering...and that I was willingly putting him through it. Not because I was WANTED to...but because it was an act of faith.

But...I'm not Jewish...obviously...so, I guess I just don't get it.
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#9 of 22 Old 02-06-2009, 12:22 AM
 
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But...I'm not Jewish...obviously...so, I guess I just don't get it.
I think that's probably it. It's a hard thing to get into the cultural mindset of another. Since someone already linked to a post where merpk spoke about the heaviness of the moment - but combined with tremendous joy - I'm not sure where you get that it's not something entered into with some trepidation. Esp. on the part of the parent. No one wants to see the baby in pain. But there is a joyous attitude about another child entering into an awesome covenant. Both emotions can exist at once.
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#10 of 22 Old 02-06-2009, 06:11 AM
 
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I'm obviously not Jewish, but I don't really understand how getting your baby's genitals cut is not a sacrifice.
yes it is a sacrifice.

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#11 of 22 Old 02-06-2009, 09:58 AM
 
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yes it is a sacrifice.
A partial human sacrifice.

But dang, NO WONDER most Jewish parents don't go crazy after they witness their ds's bris: They have an incredible support system!

Gentiles on the other hand, no such thing exist.

I've been thinking, please don't take this the wrong way.

The reason intact cultures are so tolerant of this religious partial human sacrifice is because it doesn't directly effect or involve them - this ritual isn't being proselytized in the name of medicine, like here in America. Just a thought.
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#12 of 22 Old 02-06-2009, 12:43 PM
 
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I'm not so sure that "intact countries" are so tolerant. Europe is one of the only places where circumcision has been banned in the 20th century to target religion.
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#13 of 22 Old 02-06-2009, 12:57 PM
 
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So, nobody is upset that the baby has to experience that pain?
Yes, there is certainly some sorrow that the baby will endure pain. But this is combined with the much greater joy of seeing a child enter into the covenant with G-d.

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Originally Posted by purplestraws View Post
I'm obviously not Jewish, but I don't really understand how getting your baby's genitals cut is not a sacrifice. A sacrifice you're willing to endure because God commanded it, but a sacrifice nonetheless... I TOTALLY understand why it's a joyous occasion, but don't understand why the sacrifice aspect of it isn't really important.
Perhaps the issue here is that sacrifice in Christianity is a central, unifying concept. Is there anything more important in Christianity than Jesus' sacrifice to redeem humanity from original sin?

Throughout Christian history, the sacrifice/mortification of someone's body was often viewed as a very high spiritual achievement, something that elevated the person in that they were emulating Jesus' sacrifice on the cross. (Think of all those Christian martyrs, or the Medieval flagellants.)

Judaism does not view fleshly "sacrifice" the same way. Becoming a martyr doesn't make you holy, though I suppose it is sometimes taken as proof of holiness. The most spiritually compelling sacrifice in Judaism is the one that does not happen: Abraham's sacrifice of his son, Isaac. We're not supposed to "sacrifice" human beings, or, in general, to purposefully harm our bodies. So, is circumcision a "sacrifice" per se? Yes and no. Yes, in that it makes a child more holy- sacrifice literally translated means "to make holy"- by bringing him into the covenant with G-d. And no, in that it's not a sacrifice in the common English sense of the word, which is more about propitiation through loss or fleshly mortification than it is about becoming holy.
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#14 of 22 Old 02-06-2009, 01:20 PM
 
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I'm not so sure that "intact countries" are so tolerant. Europe is one of the only places where circumcision has been banned in the 20th century to target religion.

There isn't a ban on religious circumcision and afaik, the only country that has the loudest outcry from intactivist is America. Washington D.C. tourist who come from intact cultures have demonstrated their tolerance at the Stop RIC Capital march. Those (intact men) were worried the protest was directly related to religious circ. They had no idea how prevalent unwarranted medical circs are among American healthy male infants. In fact, when they discovered the focal reasons for the protest, they were shocked. They thought it was a Jewish or Muslim ritual and nothing else. Since its not prevalent in their culture, they don't think that much about it.
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#15 of 22 Old 02-06-2009, 01:34 PM
 
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I assume you are familiar with the Soviet regime's ban on bris mila? The Nazi's ban? OK, that's where I was starting. However, Denmark has a bill pending to outlaw, Sweden has placed serious restrictions and there have been some court cases in Europe ruling it assault.... I'm not pulling this out of my arse.
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#16 of 22 Old 02-06-2009, 02:04 PM
 
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I assume you are familiar with the Soviet regime's ban on bris mila? The Nazi's ban? OK, that's where I was starting. However, Denmark has a bill pending to outlaw, Sweden has placed serious restrictions and there have been some court cases in Europe ruling it assault.... I'm not pulling this out of my arse.
Do you believe then, if unwarranted medical circs were outlawed in America, it would put limits on religious circs?

If so, do you think this is why there is a huge push to culturize the radical medicalization of unnecessary genital surgery onto healthy gentiles for the purpose to force them into tolerance?

The Denmark bill's only restriction on religious circs is that a medical personnel is present during the bris. In case something goes wrong.

Risks are involved, even during a bris circ.

Ironically, those stories covered in the media are quickly removed. For this reason, I'm unable to locate the story of the baby who cried so hard his stomach literally blew up. And the one of the baby who died of cardiac arrest during his bris circ.
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#17 of 22 Old 02-06-2009, 02:07 PM
 
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It's a media conspiracy? Surely you can find links from other countries where circ isn't common and culturally accepted.
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#18 of 22 Old 02-06-2009, 02:10 PM
 
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Do you believe then, if unwarranted medical circs were outlawed in America, it would put limits on religious circs?
No, in America I don't think it would happen. But I don't think that medical circs will be limited here either.

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If so, do you think this is why there is a huge push to culturize the radical medicalization of unnecessary genital surgery onto healthy gentiles for the purpose to force them into tolerance?
Um, no. Not at all.



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Risks are involved, even during a bris circ.
Yes, there are risks involved. There are risks involved in having a tooth pulled, but we don't require that it be done in the hospital with an MD present. As much as I love my father - a dentist - and as skilled as I think he is, if he had someone with an undiagnosed bleeding disorder start to hemorrhage, he wouldn't be able to do much more than dial 9/11 and start CPR if necessary.
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#19 of 22 Old 02-06-2009, 02:13 PM
 
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BTW - I think you are thinking of Sweden, not Denmark. Denmark has a bill pending to ban circumcision on anyone under 15. Sweden has a law that a medical professional must be present.

Quote:
Furor over Proposed Ban of Circumcision in Denmark


Jews and Muslims in Denmark are in an uproar about a bill to ban circumcision for boys under the age of 15, according to Yediot Ahronot
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#20 of 22 Old 02-06-2009, 02:18 PM
 
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It's a media conspiracy? Surely you can find links from other countries where circ isn't common and culturally accepted.
That theory isn't far fetch if the media is controlled by a director with a circ bias. :dunno It certainly seems plausible.
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#21 of 22 Old 02-06-2009, 02:21 PM
 
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BTW - I think you are thinking of Sweden, not Denmark. Denmark has a bill pending to ban circumcision on anyone under 15. Sweden has a law that a medical professional must be present.
I was not familiar with this. My mistake.
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#22 of 22 Old 02-06-2009, 02:25 PM
 
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