By COLlive reporter
Crown Heights mohalim are fretting over Metzitzah b’peh which has come under government scrutiny after the death of a Brooklyn infant by contracting herpes.
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the Health Department say the practice where the mohel performing a bris removes the blood from the baby’s circumcision wound by mouth is potentially dangerous to newborns.
“We are extremely concerned,” said Rabbi Moshe Klein, a mohel and sofer, who attended a meeting about the topic at the Crown Heights Beis Din this week.
He explained that Metzitzah is one of the three requirements of fulfilling the Mitzvah, which traces back to Avrohom Avinu and has been in practice in Jewish communities throughout the ages.
Klein said there was no room to compromise and that the authorities aim to either punish the mohalim or demand of parents to OK the practice on their infants, in which case they can be accused of negligence.
His opinions was reiterated by other leading local mohalim – Rabbi Eliyahu Shain and Rabbi Israel Heller. Rabbi Levi Heber, chair of the International Bris Association, was not in town.
The mohalim along with Rabbi Moshe Dovid Niderman, known askan and head of UJO – United Jewish Organizations of Williamsburg, urged the Beis Din to publicly support the practice.
Following the intense meeting, Beis Din members Rabbi Yaacov Schwei and Rabbi Yosef Braun issued a letter stating that Metzitzah is not to be a concern, rather “a great benefit, even according to medical wisdom.”
They called upon all mohalim “to continue the tradition of the bris as in the past, without any change whatsoever.”
Some of the letter translated to English by Debbie Maimon:
We are deeply troubled by current efforts on the part of New York City health officials to implement laws that would bring the mitzvah of bris milah under government regulation. The immediate point of contention is the practice of metzitzah b’peh, [oral suction], during circumcision, which the New York City Department of Health wants to ban.
The proposed laws would require a mohel to inform parents of the baby of the supposed “dangers” of the practice. The parents would then have to sign a document of “informed consent.”
The claim that metzitzah b’peh endangers newborns, although untrue, has been raised in the past. People seeking to prohibit or curb the custom have slandered it as being dangerous. But the great leaders of the previous generations stood firm in defending our holy customs, determined to perpetuate metzitzah b’peh in the manner it was performed since the days of Moshe Rabbeinu.
Our leaders also wrote at length about the great importance of metzitzah, specifically b’peh; explaining that it is of critical importance to the bris, according to p’shat, remez, drush and specifically, sod.
Some are of the opinion that it is a vital and integral part of the mitzvah, deemed halacha l’Moshe m’Sinai–a Divine command given to Moshe Rabeinu. This view appears in many sources, the most popular being “Kuntres Ha’metzitzah,” a treatise on metzitzah, in the Sdei Chemed Encyclopedia.
The central reason for metzizah b’peh, our sages tell us, is to prevent infection or complications in the newborn after the bris, as explained in the gemara and by the Rishonim. This has been confirmed by many doctors and scientists who have debunked the negative hype disseminated by so-called experts relying on outdated and inaccurate medical data.
Thousands upon thousands of Jewish children over many decades have been circumcised with metzitzah b’peh, with not a single proven instance of a baby falling ill as a result. One of the most prominent pediatricians in our city who has tended to newborns for decades testifies that the claim of children getting sick due to metzitzah b’peh is bogus.
Regardless of whether doctors agree or not, from a legal and moral standpoint, it is utterly unacceptable for the government to presume the right to regulate bris milah or any other religious custom or ceremony.
And as the Rebbe noted in a letter regarding this issue (6th of Elul 5709): “When governments get involved in how a Jew runs his [religious] life, it is never good for Jews, not for their soul nor their body, as can be confirmed by many examples [of government interference] throughout Jewish history.”
The right to be free of government regulation in the realm of religion is especially important in our country, the United States of America, which was founded on the principle of freedom of religion, and the separation between the government and religious bodies.
Some practical steps should be taken to offset the campaign against metzitzah b’peh:
1) Publicize to all Jews, especially those who are not aware of the importance of metzitzah b’peh, that this practice poses no medical hazard whatsoever. On the contrary, many doctors consider it beneficial.
2) Mohalim should continue performing bris milah in the traditional manner, without changing anything at all, Heaven Forbid. Whoever does not have the courage to withstand the pressure and uphold our traditions, should retire from the job. If he did not perform all three parts – milah, pri’ah and metzitzah b’peh, he is not qualified to be a mohel. In case of medical danger, the mohel should ask a rov in his city, and follow his directive. Obviously, if a mohel is sick or has an infection, he should not do metzitzah b’peh.
Risk?! Even after a child dies from bris, the next child still gets a bris, even though it’s known that there could be a family issue (as the case in the gemara where after it’s determined that there is definitely a family issue is a bris forgone). Even should contracting herpes or whatnot be an issue, there are near to no cases of this causing death. Furthermore, as one commenter touched upon, there is just as much, if not a greater risk of an infant contracting herpes from family due to ‘common’ practices, which are even advised, such as wetting… Read more »
SPEAK FOR YOURSELF….
I DON”T RECALL ASKING YOU TO SPAEK FOR ME.
(YES, I AM PART OF THE KHILLA).
For all who want to know in the case of the child who died after his bris from herpes: B”h the mohel did not have herpes or contact it from the child who did indeed have it. The child got it from his birth mother who indeed had herpes, yet she did not disclose this information until after her hospital doctor went after the mohel to sue him and it did not come through. Its a shame that people have to get scared off because of a mother who chose to lie instead of come forth with the real truth.… Read more »
Not only the longest Rav, but the one who was appointed by the Lubavitcher Rebbe himself!
Why the mayor is so concerned with a possible/improbable injury to a little soul, when he paid, and persuaded to institute same-gender marriage, knowing that AIDS is very prevalent and dangerous among the ‘proud community’?
what are you trying to say?
rabbi osdoba has clearly disengaged himself from the other two Rabbonim and therefore there is no option to have his name there, but that absolutely does not make it worthless, contrary to your pea-brained belief.
In regards to the election of Rabbi Braun, Rabbi Osdoba has immaturely still not recognised him as part of the Badatz, thereby going against some of the clear hoiro’ois of the Rebbe in regards to appointing a new Rov.
To cross the street (with the risk of getting hit by a car)
Then worry that a baby will get sick from a mohel
to #3 – this was an answer I got from a non-Lubavitch mohel when a relative of mine wrote that he does not believe in metzizah b’peh: the family had requested that I specifically perform Metzitzah B’peh, and I followed their request. I would also note, though, that some of the comments listed were incorrect. In Halacha it does require drawing the blood, and many authorities require that this be done by mouth, although there are those that allow it to be done through other means as well (see Biur Halacha Ch. 331 first note, as an example). There are… Read more »
Answer to your questions: 1. You must not be referring to Chabad as the Rabbiem don’t allow any compromise starting from the Ladir to the Rebbe Rashab to The Rebbe and all Rabonie Chabad. 2. Veruchanies there is a Vadii risk and medically speaking the Chief of Westchester Hospital of Infection disease , Dr Berman, says that is no proof of any such cases where the disease was transmitted Metzitzah b’peh. In addition regarding the Ruchanies aspect since the HETER for the tube started, intermarriage has been on the rise, and the reason is that Metzitzah b’peh “this protects the… Read more »
in quite a few of the cases it was found that the baby contracted it through getting a pacifier from its sibling or from its mother…. we have done it this was for thousands of years – if it was so dangerous than why aren’t more babies affected- this is just a coverup for antisemites to try to control a jewish practice- first they control it -then they outlaw it completely
Their is no compromising on any part of our Torah. I have not heard of any proper poskim that rule metzitza may be done through a tube. Since when is their a clear risk to the baby. If their were any risk you would have heard of thousands of babies being affected.
In divrei Torah, you’re supposed to answer a fool, so here goes. It’s quite clear that you aren’t asking questions, looking for answers. You’ve made your mind up and it’s obvious where you stand. 1. There are poskim who allow for many things that Chabad and other Chassidishe communities will never consider. Only a first class Am Ha’aretz takes one psak and applies it across the board to all situations. There is no room for compromise for those that don’t search for hetterim, as we don’t. 2. Clear risk? Are you out of your mind? You should be campaigning against… Read more »
Every Bris has the slitest risk to the baybe’s life. But outweighed by hashem.
Moeles should check themselves for herpies etc.
to say that there are no health concerns is a blatant lie.
one very practical and easy demand that Rabbonim can make on to the Mohalim is to demand that they use mouthwash before doing the metzitza.
The concern of the Health Department is that we are worried that the child might get Herpes from the Mohel’s mouth but if the Mohel washes his mouth with mouthwash beforehand the herpes will be sterilized (for at least a short while) and thus guarantee the child’s safety and pacify the Health Department.
Perhaps Mohalim ought to be tested regularly for contagious pathogens and carry certification that they are disease free. That way, parents (and government officials) can rest assured that the babies are safe.
to number 3. you have no say on jewish customs. it is a clear gemara that one that does a mitzvah isn’t harmed, and just as in Germany, bloomberg has no business messing with Judaism. Further, there is no evidence in the case that the mohel had any affect on the child. Look up the case, its a fabrication to undermine the Jewish traditions and the Torah. We are facing current trends to destroy Jewish custom, which is deeply rooted in our holy Torah.
1. There are some poskim who agree that a tube can be used. The Lubavitcher poskim, and Rebbeim, for many generations, hold that such a bris is invalid. See the citations in the letter, footnotes 5, 6 and 7. 2. If there are valid health concerns, such as a mohel with a mouth sore or a communicable disease, as the Rabbonim said in the letter above, they should not perform metzitza b’peh. The issue is that the ‘data’ the government is citing is distorted. The doctors, researchers and statisticians do not see evidence that MbP results in an increased risk… Read more »
” Metzitzah is not to be a concern, rather “a great benefit, “EVEN ACCORDING TO MEDICAL WISDOM”
i just today for mi very first time saw a mihal metzitzaing through a tube.
Your first 3 Q’s are good ones.
The 4th is just stupid.
Answer to Q3: Yes
Niderman, the Satmarer askan, came to Crown Heights for practical reasons — poshut strength in numbers, drumming up support.
Why do we as a kehila have to be embarassed by the fact that when he “came to Lubavitch” they sat him down in fornt of a giant yechi poster?
Of course, the meshichisten will point at these pictures and say, “See, Niderman had no problem with it! Why do you?”
It’s not funny any more. It’s not cute. But, alas, I talk to the wall.
like the four questions in the haggadah, i can tell by your third question, your very simple minded. in regards to your other questions, you have done no research, and question #4 is completey irrelevant. people are stupider for reading your questions. i think you should apologize.
this all comes from writing yechei on the rebbes picture.
to 1.- there are poskim that say you can shave your beard, there are poskim that say you can eat cholov akum/”stam”, there were (about 60/70 years ago) thatsaid you can turn on a light on shabbos!!,not everything that there is a “hetter” to do do you have to do.(the chachomim even made g’zeiros so that people wouldn’t use heteirim)
to 2.- a proper mohel either would do it b’peh or not at all.
to 3.- if g-d said to do it i would do it before anything else.
k’sivah v’chasimah tovah l’shanah tovah um’sukah-l’kol
B”H oh so Rabbi Bloomberg is behind this. Just serve 16 Oz drinks at the Bris and his enforcers will be so sidetracked that the Bris will be over before they notice
you did not read the letter …
1. Why is there “no room for compromise”? There are poskim who have ruled that metzitza can be done through a tube. 2. If there is even the slightest risk to the baby’s life we don’t do a bris. Why are we ignoring clear risk to the baby in this scenario? 3. If the baby was known to be infected with a disease and the mohel could contract it from the baby — would the mohel still do metzitza bpeh on that baby? 4. If you went to the emergency room with a cut on your finger and the doctor… Read more »
baruch hashem that we have such an amazing beis din!
if it does not have the signature of the longest rov in ch its worthless