Monday, July 23, 2007

Taking Swipes at the Bris
by: Schvach Yid

Once again the anti-circumcisionists are on the warpath. I’ve previously blogged about the topic of Jewish circumcision and the response of some elements in the non-Jewish world to our practice of trimming the excess off new-born phalluses.

This time however the tumult arrives from some of our fellow Jews. A recent post on Jewesses with Attitude, titled The bris-less bris at provides its readers with a link to an equally recent article in the on-line edition of The Jewish Daily Forward (Activists Up Efforts To Cut Circumcision Out of Bris Ritual at Both discuss current efforts against the practice of Brit Milah. Various things are written; the comments to the Forward article are most enlightening and entertaining. I won’t repeat the stuff here.

I would, however, like to provide a little insight of my own concerning the practice of Brit Milah, but first I’ll preface this with a proviso. I am not the beneficiary of a Torah education. I was raised in a secular home, with attendance at a Conservative Movement after-hours Hebrew school at the elementary school level. Nothing post-bar mitzvah. I am grateful for the secular education that was provided to me. The Hebrew school education I received was a waste of time. A secular education has many advantages, of course; the flip side is that one is left ‘shooting from the hip’ concerning matters of Torah. Here goes.

Anyone who has read the Chumash, English translation acceptable, from Exodus through Deuteronomy, and who has paid attention while doing so, cannot help coming to the conclusion that all of Judaism is about the Exodus from Egypt and HaShem’s revelation to us (part of the Exodus). The giving of the commandments is what the Exodus was all about - that we should give our avoda (service) to HaShem alone and not to Pharaoh or to anyone else. Repeatedly we are instructed in the Chumash that we are to follow this or that commandment because of what HaShem did for us, ie., the Exodus, or because he took us out of Egypt ‘with a strong hand and an outstretched arm’, or because we were strangers in the land of Egypt.

We are commanded in the matter of Brit Milah in Genesis, where Avraham is commanded to circumcise himself, his household, and his two sons. Exodus almost (not quite) begins with Zipporah circumcising her son, which Moses evidently had neglected to do.

The centrality of Brit Milah comes with regard to Pesach, for no man who is uncircumcised is permitted to share the ‘pascal’ sacrifice, and since then, the rabbis have ruled that no uncircumcised man may sit at the seder table on Pesach.

For those who doubt the significance of Brit Milah please consider my statement given above that Judaism is about the Exodus from Egypt. In other words, Passover is Judaism; the entire religion is about Passover, despite the fact that commandments and the Creation were given long before the yitziyat Mitzrayim (the going out from Egypt). In the Chumash we are commanded that the yearly calendar begins with the Exodus. The Aybischter’s reason for giving the commandments, He states in the Chumash, is precisely because of the yitziyat Mizrayim. This is repeated throughout the Chumash, beginning with Exodus. Without circumcision there is no participation in the ‘pascal’ sacrifice – ie, Passover. The uncircumcised are excluded.

The purveyors of ‘liberal’ Judaism will argue politics: ‘what about women?; if men, then women; what about exclusion, discrimination, an ancient and barbaric cultural practice, sadism, violation of the individual rights of the baby, health considerations, etc'? In response I can only shrug my shoulders. Judaism isn’t about politics; it’s about living a life of Torah and mitzvot, as HaShem has commanded. If these Jews who shun traditional Judaism don’t like that we are commanded to live in Israel and to do so to the exclusion of others, and that those strangers among us in ‘the land’ are likewise required to accept and adhere to HaShem’s commandments, then the problem belongs to the ‘liberals’ and not to the ‘traditionalists’.

Any evangelical leader who leads his flock to Israel needs to remember this. As Bible believing and Gd-fearing people they are obligated (and should want) to live according to HaShem’s commandments while they sojourn in the land of Israel because the Aybischter said so – ‘one law for the stranger and the home-born’. That means shomer Shabbos, shomer kashrut, derech hatznius, and taharas hamishpachas. It also means the men among them must be circumcised, and liberal politics has nothing to do with it (can you imagine evangelists invoking liberal politics as a defense?).

Jews who have chosen to reject Judaism and who advocate against Brit Milah need to take stock and remember just what Judaism is about. Tonight begins Tisha B’Av.

My apologies are extended to the Torah educated who find enormous errors in my opinion.

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