Skip to comments.Jewish Faith, Circumcision, and Religious Freedom
Posted on 07/03/2012 2:41:15 PM PDT by NYer
In a previous post, I stressed the importance of standing up for the religious freedom of people of every faith, not just those who share our own convictions. In view of a recent development in Germany, I here wish to say that Christians, especially those of us who are Catholics, should be particularly outspoken in defending the rights of Jews and the Jewish people. It is not simply the memory of past crimes committed by Christians, including leaders of the Church, against Jews—crimes sometimes committed in the very name of Christian faith. It is the fact that we are taught by our Church, and so we believe, that the Jews are the chosen people of God, bound to him in an unbroken and unbreakable covenant. Moreover, for Christians, Jews are, in the words of Blessed Pope John Paul II, our “elder brothers in faith.” From a Christian point of view, the Jewish witness in the world has profound and indispensable spiritual meaning.
The recent development in Germany against which we Christians should loudly raise our voices is described by David Goldman (“Spengler”) in an article published today: “On June 26, the District Court of the Federal State of Cologne ruled that circumcision of children for religious reasons at the instruction of parents constituted the infliction of bodily harm and therefore was a punishable offense.” Of course, for observant Jews, circumcision of male children is not optional. It is required as a matter of Jewish law. To prohibit it is, in effect, to forbid Jews from being Jews.
In his article, Goldman, himself an observant Jew, includes the text of a letter he wrote to two German judges. He says: “Not even the Nazis thought of banning circumcision as a way of uprooting Jewish life in Germany. If your decree withstands a constitutional challenge, Germany once again will be Judenrein.” Further on he says: “The neo-pagan illusions of National Socialism have been crushed, although they lurk at the fringes of German politics. Despite their defeat, the National Socialists may have succeeded in extirpating the presence of the divine in German life. No action by responsible public officials since the end of the war has advanced their cause as forcefully as the evil decree you have promulgated.”
Of course, comparing anything to the unfathomable horrors of the Nazi genocide is problematical. The National Socialists hunted down and cruelly murdered every Jewish man, woman, and child they could find. They didn’t simply make it impossible for believing Jews to live in Germany or its occupied lands by banning a practice mandated by religious law. One can nevertheless understand the sense of outrage that would cause Goldman and others in the Jewish community to draw the comparison. What the Cologne court has done is outrageous. It is an outrageous assault on the religious liberty and the rights of conscience of Jews (and Muslims, by the way—the actual case in the Cologne court happened to concern Muslim parents who for religious reasons sought the circumcision of their son).
What was the judges’ motive? I’m not certain. I’m reasonably confident that it was not simply an act of anti-Jewish animus. Still, its disregard for the rights of Jews, rooted in their obligation to fulfill their duties under their covenant with the divine Creator and Ruler of the universe, is deeply disturbing to say the least. Perhaps the judges were moved by an argument, increasingly common in certain circles, claiming that circumcision results in a reduction of sexual pleasure, and thus counts as a form of child abuse when performed on infants (who, of course, cannot consent to the procedure). This argument was among those made by people who recently attempted to persuade the City of San Francisco to enact a law banning circumcision. Fortunately, the City did not enact the ban—for now.
As we Catholics and those of other faiths who have joined with us conclude our Fortnight for Freedom later this week on Independence Day, let us be mindful that the freedom we seek is freedom for all. Yes, it is about the appalling HHS mandates; and yes, it is about laws that shut down Catholic services to orphaned children or Catholic assistance to women trafficked into sexual slavery and other forms of exploitation; but it is also about laws that undermine the ability of Jews, Muslims, and persons of any other faith to fulfill their religious duties; and it is about the rights of people of every religion to manifest their faith in public life as well as in their temples, churches, mosques or homes.
Very few nonJews can still be counted as our friends. I’m glad this Catholic man stands up for us.
This raises an interesting question:
Some Jewish orthodox sects require a mohel to suck blood from a just-circumcised penis as part of their religious obligations. Recently, this practice caused the death of a child in New York:
How far can the State go in forbidding this practice (and thereby violating the religious freedoms of that sect)?
On the other hand, how can it be okay for someone to mutilate the genitals of an individual (the child), without consent?
You say -’Very few non-Jews can be counted as friends.’ You exclude Catholics, Christians, Mormons??? I believe you are in serious error.
I will say - when we (Christians) went to Jerusalem, we heard a lot of locals talking about Jews discriminating against Christians there. Perhaps we of One God should embrace each other rather than cast aspersions. Just a thot. We are all in this together, and together we form a huge presence on this planet.
Which “locals” would these be? The Israeli Jewish liberals like to spread a lot of propaganda against the more religious Jews. The local “Palestinians” have even worse to say.
The incident was not made public by NY Daily alone:
What are you disputing here? The argument or the incident? The answer to that will reveal to you if you might be on the wrong forum, yourself.
A two-week-old infant died at a Brooklyn hospital in September after contracting herpes through a controversial religious circumcision ritual, the New York Daily News reported. It is unclear who performed the circumcision, according to the Daily News.The NYDN likes to publish lots of anti-orthodox-Jew propaganda, FYI.
Is not circumcision pretty routine here in the US? Two of my children were immediately given circumcision. My oldest was not because he was premature and there were more important issues. But I do not recall being asked my opinion on the other two.
I’m neither Jewish or Catholic but I’m happy to stand by you and defend your rights.
Report: N.Y. mohel apparently tested positive for herpes
April 9, 2012
(JTA) — A New York mohel who performed the circumcision of one newborn who died of herpes and of three other infants who contracted the disease apparently tested positive for herpes, The New York Jewish Week reported.
Yitzchok Fischer, who was ordered in 2007 to stop the circumcision ritual of metzitzah bpeh, in which the mohel orally suctions blood from the circumcision wound, refused, however, to submit to a DNA test to determine if he is a match to the viruses found in the babies.
The Jewish Week reported April 6 that a copy of the 2007 New York State Department of Health order obtained by the newspaper through a Freedom of Information Law request said that he tested positive for an infection that he was “capable of communicating to others.”
The department redacted the order to protect Fischer's privacy, as required by law, and does not specifically mention herpes. But according to the newspaper, “both the context of the order and the facts surrounding Fischers case strongly suggest that the infection for which, according to the order, he tested positive is herpes.”
The order also describes the investigation carried out by the New York City Department of Health in the wake of three infections linked to Fischer in 2003 and 2004, The Jewish Week reported.
Several weeks ago, The Jewish Week wrote that it had obtained a tape recording indicating that Fischer may have continued to perform metzitzah bpeh after the order to desist was issued. Asked several weeks ago whether the state Department of Health would investigate Fischer in connection with a possible violation of the 2007 order, department spokesman Mike Moran would not comment.
The city health department has issued a warning against the practice. Haredi Orthodox leaders condemned the warning as an unnecessary and unwelcome government intrusion into their community's religious practices.
Human Beings have a right to their own bodies. Circumcision of infants or children should be banned as a violation of human rights. If ADULTS want to undergo circumcision, then by the same right to their own bodies, and right to their religious beliefs, they should be able to do so.
What level of physical disfigurement is the limit? Chopping off foreskins? Of chopping out entire clitorises in girls? Or chopping off hands or gouging out eyes of errant youths who violate religious proscriptions? How about chopping off heads of disbelievers, and shooting women who violate the religious “honor” of families?
As if humanity doesn’t have enough of a historical record to draw some obvious conclusions about this concept!
Most real evangelicals I know are your friends. We ask continually for blessings on Jews and Jerusalem and Israel.
Video is of Messianic Christians worshipping.
Arguments for banning circumcision come down to saying, “What Jewish people believe God told them to do - not just in passing but as the very sign of their people’s unique covenant with Him - is too horrible to be permitted.” That is like saying to observant Jews, “Your ‘god’ is evil, and so are you if you follow what you believe was commanded.”
One can easily see why Jews would consider this deeply insulting, and even threatening, since a reasonable next step is to conclude that evil people with horrible religious beliefs and intolerable practices should be eliminated.
People might think they’re not anti-Semitic, but there’s no other way to interpret it, once allowance has been made for cases of utter thoughtlessness.
I did that with my son with the knowledge that he could be circumcised by his own volition at a later time in life.
He has often told me since reaching adulthood that he is very grateful that I did not have him circumcised, for many reasons.
You’re grasping at straws trying to deny that that incident ever occurred.
And regarding mutilation, it is nothing else but that. The foreskin performs the very vital function of keeping the glans hydrated. Without it, the glans becomes desensitised - with an associated loss in pleasure. The foreskin flips over onto the penile shaft and its dense innervation provides the sensory input for that region during intercourse. It is not for no reason that outfits exist which specialise in “reversing” circumcisions.
To compare the lopping off of a functional portion of the male anatomy (which is highly innervated for a particular purpose) to ear piercing or vaccination, is laughable. If you need an answer, yes, I oppose infant ear piercing.
Vaccination is neither mutilation, nor leads to rendering a body part impaired in function. Cleft lip surgeries are performed to repair a damaged physical condition.
Also, as for that old “argument” pushed by the medical community (circumcision procedures bring in money) regarding HIV transmission, firstly, the so-called “studies” were performed in rural Africa where data is at best unreliable, and where cultural factors come into play - the circumcised males there are largely Muslim, and their cultural positions regarding adultery have an influence on their promiscuity, and thereby, STD transmission rates.
Secondly, Sweden and Japan, both having near-zero male circumcision rates, have lower rates of STDs and a higher life expectancy than many countries where nearly all males are circumcised.
Now what about individuals born prematurely? In the past, nearly all of them, if not all of them, would have died because there nearly was no way of rescuing infants born premature. Imagine circumcision complicating this scenario.
If a Muslim or Jewish family has a child who is born premature, and the parents demand circumcision as per their religious rituals, should the authorities step in to stop them? If so, why, and if not, why not? As an aside, children who are born this way into such families, and do not undergo the circumcision according to the cultural requirement of it being performed eight days after birth, do they lose status in terms of being able to be part of the culture? If not, why so?
Instead of wildly throwing labels, first answer what I asked you to answer, then substantiate how what I wrote is “pseudoscience” and lastly, make sure you answer the parts where I indicated where the lines get blurry on this issue.
If you cannot / do not do that, then you are merely avoiding the discussion, throwing labels and running away from it because you don’t have any answer of substance, all of which would make for good signs regarding your unsuitability on this forum.
Just a few points for clarification:
1.) The case in question itself has nothing to do with Judaism. It was about medical MALPRACTICE (bleeding afterwards) in the case of a MUSLIM boy. It should be mentioned that this case is about ISLAM.
2.) The appellate court struck down the first ruling, which cited amongst e.g. peer pressure amongst muslim boys as a legitimate reason for a circumcision. The appelate court argued that once mature a Muslim can still be circumcised, but that way he doesn’t have to should he choose to become a Catholic instead.
3.) There is hardly any chance this ruling will stand when it comes before the Federal Constitutional Court (Germany has half a dozen supreme courts, like e.g. the Federal Court of Justice for criminal law or - as mentioned above - the Federal Constitutional Court for Constitutional Law). The FCC usually is very pro religious freedom (e.g. see 2002 case: animal rights vs. kosher slaughter).
Personally I do believe that circumcisions are OK, but that’s more of a gut feeling. I do see how it is a difficult question legally. There is a difference between vaccinations - which are based on solid science - and circumcision, which there is no real medical imperative for.
What if Scientology suddenly demanded the removal of a toe? Living with 9 toes doesn’t really disable you, just like living without a foreskin. Would that also be OK? It does prevent Onychomycosis, after all.
So in my personal opinion it boils down to a.) tradition and b.) the minor severity of the procedure which IMHO are enough to justify it.
Remember that we’re talking Germany here, not the USA (well, San Francisco comes close to the former); they’re quite against Scientology themselves (which would be excusable) as well as this particular Jewish practice that is not exclusive to Judaism (and that’s not excusable one whit).
I’ve read Germany’s basic law, and none of their freedoms are freedoms; they all provide for exceptions, which IMHO ought to be grounds for accusing them of breach of the peace after WWII as well as breach of terms of surrender. So don’t think that the Constitutional Court would necessarily strike these decisions of lower courts down.
There’s nothing to avoid. You made your views clear, and I am merely pointing out that they are inconsistent with conservative views, and therefore there is nothing to discuss. You prefer liberal propaganda to truth, but there is no need to ram that down our throats.
How can it be ok for a surgeon to mutilate an adult's body with selective plastic surgery? Should surgeons be mutilating any individual's body?
The person you are replying to seems to not understand the concept of parental consent. Sounds like a leftist “rights of the child” viewpoint to me, and quite anti-family.
That is just as much a statement of religious belief as is any dogma of Judaism, Christianity, or another religion.
It is not obvious from nature: seeing my 5-month-old daughter, who has received everything from me except some DNA and air, natural logic could conclude that I have ownership rights over her body, which is, so to speak, me. Your belief is not a general case from historic experience, in which many humans have legally been property of others.
Judaism and its descendant, Christianity, teach us that our Creator ultimately has ownership of our bodies, and that He can make legitimate demands, both in positive action and in restraint from action, on our use of our bodies.
As usual, attempting diversions.
If you had bothered to read what I posted in those other threads you mention, they were pro-Jewish stuff.
As for circumcision, there is a fundamental issue with it that I have a problem with - and that pertains to the right of an individual to the physical integrity of his or her self.
If you really want to make a point worthy of a post on this thread, reply to the points I raised, instead of raising tangents. As it seems, you are merely avoiding the real elephant in the room, which concerns how much of a right you have as an individual, to your own body, versus what others, be they your parents or anyone else, have, over your physical self - to the extent that they are allowed to physically mutilate you based on cultural whims.
The key: Selective.
Who 'selects'? The individual? Or the doctor?
I see the concept of parental consent has been carefully left out. Being pro-family (i.e. with parents as authority) is a conservative tenet, which I at least (and I cannot speak for other FR members, but I suspect a majority) uphold.
Very leftist diatribe there”cultural whims”, “mutilate”, “physical integrity of his/her self”? Nobody speaks directly to your “points” because most of them are invalid from the conservative perspective.
Yes, leftists are always discovering new “rights,” such as our “right” to be forced to buy health insurance, or our “right” to be prevented from buying large containers of soft drinks. Older rights, such as the right not be killed because the mother doesn’t want a baby now, seem to have vanished. On the other hand, there’s the right to have a baby, by any means, if natural conception and birth don’t happen under the usual plan.
They must get awful headaches trying to keep this straight. It’s like playing a game with my 10-year-old, who changes the rules to make sure he wins, always with a perfectly straight face and no sense of self-contradiction. Why, reality is such that Pat wins, and that is that!
How can a person claim to be “pro-Jewish” but at the same time consider their covenant sign to be “mutilation” which should be prohibited by law? Doesn’t that mean their God commands mutilation, and therefore there is something seriously wrong both with their God and with His followers?
Except that the child is a human individual, whereas in nature, might is right - be it a lion's ability to grasp and tear apart antelope, or a bacterium's ability to wreak havoc inside the lion's body. The recognition of this point is necessary because it is a human societal demarcation - distinguishing the progeny from the progenitor - and is a basis for establishing and recognising the rights of that individual.
There is no law arising from non-human sources which prevents an individual from being another individual's physical property - a slave. In fact, the contrary if one subscribes to the popular religions. Recognising the individual as a distinct entity is the first step in creating a societal system where the individual has the protection against his or her physical self being forcibly used for the purposes of another - being enslaved by a more powerful agent - be it by the parents, or any one else. That recognition of the individual's right to his or her self therefore forms the core of recognising that individual's other rights.
If you choose to fail to recognise this aspect of a person's right to his or her physical integrity, then who sets the boundaries for what is permitted and what is not? One may choose to mutilate male or female genitalia of another individual, while another may decide to have surgery performed on that individual to remove certain teeth or other body parts before they can cause problems at a later stage. Others may choose to do this or other barbaric procedures out of cultural whims. Where does the boundary lie, where the individual has protection from such procedures done to him or her, against his or her will?
This may all sound like a stretch, but they are logically connected. What indisputable argument allows you to lop off another's genitalia without his or her consent, that prevents someone else from doing something similar to another individual's other body parts? Your personal, subjective beliefs is not a valid answer.
Pro-Jewish, pertaining to the people, and not to their individual, personal beliefs. You ought to be smarter than what you appear to be, to be able to recognise the difference.
If a Muslim adult woman is being physically harassed by a non-Muslim adult male, would you allow this to continue because you have a problem with the (barbaric) tenets of Islam? Or would you support the woman? Likewise.
Circumcision is not a "right." It is a Divine command.
What will it take to wash the "enlightenment" out of the Jewish system? Why this Voltaire gag reflex?
The eighteenth century "enlightenment" is dead and gone, and the sooner its rotten corpse is buried the better.
Kudos to this Catholic author for understanding better than Abe Foxman could.
Parental consent cannot stretch beyond the physical integrity of the child - as in, the parents have no right to mutilate the physical body of the child - to deprive the child of body parts which have dense innervation for the purpose of increasing sexual satisfaction. If a parent has a right to this according to your dogma, then Muslims lopping off their daughters’ clitorises is also valid, by your same illogic.
You are still avoiding answering the actual arguments made, and instead resorting to facetious, spurious tangents - using labels and epithets which have no relevance to the actual points pertaining to the subject. Such behaviour constitutes the actual signs of the type of individual, described by your labels, you are accusing others of being.
You're having trouble with the concept of a "commandment," aren't you?
I suppose you think G-d was a big meanie for ordering the extermination of the Canaanites.
Oh, we all ought to be as smart as you. Then all would be right in the great Republic of Reason, with the great M. Hebert to guide us.
As King Solomon kindly pointed out, there's nothing new under the sun. The Enlightenment religion - "You shall be as God" - is old, older, nearly oldest.
If the above weren't true, then would the reverse apply to you? As in, for example, would you endorse the concept of a trinitarian god, as truth? Yes or no?
If you have a problem answering this question, and if you have the capability to recognise that the same can hold true with another individual when it comes to their personal beliefs against yours, you will understand the importance of recognising that such beliefs are, you guessed it, personal.
You’re moving the goalposts. As well as pulling out the liberal “smart” card (to wit liberal thought is “smart[er]” than conservative thought).
Human beings have only the rights G-d gives them . . . no others.
Circumcision of infants or children should be banned as a violation of human rights.
"Should?" The only one Who can say "should" is G-d. And if G-d says that Jewish male children should be circumcised on their eight day, then that is exactly what should be done.
There are no laws but G-d's laws. "Secular law," like "secular morality" and "secular ethics" is ultimately a contradiction in terms. The only reason it is wrong to murder is because G-d has so decreed. And when G-d decrees that someone be killed (via the death penalty, war, or extermination of the Canaanites) then it is equally wrong not to kill.
It's time to put secular "rights," "laws," "morals," and "ethics" out of their misery.
Hahaha! Is that the childish diversion you choose to employ to avoid answering that question regarding the harassed Muslim woman? Nice clipping of my actual, conditional sentence, there - you chose to delete the condition that the statement was hanging on, so that you could quote out of context and employ the diversion tactic.
Nothing new under the Sun, indeed!
You merely neglected to mention that what is "horrible" is defined by G-d, which reduces the "G-d has ordered something horrible" argument to nonsense.
All you have done so far is avoid answering the arguments raised, point-to-point, and instead choose to throw labels: “leftist”, “moving the goalposts”, etc.
I will give you a chance to establish your credibility and claim by proving exactly how and where the “goalposts” were “moved”. Failure to do so establishes my claim about your behaviour.