Thursday, September 10, 2009

A Source for Metzitzah?

Traditionally, the bris has three components: Milah, Priah, Metzitzah.

Milah is the removal of the foreskin, also known as the prepuce, which is the outer layer of skin covering the glans - until the outer edge of the corona.

Priah is the removal of the mucous membrane which is directly under the foreskin, which also serves as a coating for the glans.

Metzitzah is the drawing of blood "from distant places."

Of the three, metzitzah is the most controversial nowadays, on a number of levels.

#1: What is it's purpose? For medical reasons, or as part of the oral tradition?
#2: Is it necessary in either case?
#3: How is it to be done?
#4: Who should do it?

There are those who do not do metzitzah at all, there are those who only do not do it on Shabbos or Yom Tov but do it on weekdays, there are those who do it at every bris.

Of those who do it, there are ultimately two approaches: A. putting the mouth directly on the wound (commonly known as "metzitzah b'feh" (MBP in blogosphere)), and B. using a tube to draw out the blood with the power of the mouth, but without any direct oral contact from mohel to baby.

I wrote on article on the subject of sterility in a bris which addresses this subject.

But for those who advocate the MBP (direct oral contact approach), I think I found a source for you. (And yes, this is tongue in cheek)

On the verse Devarim 30:19, the Sifsei Kohen (Shakh) writes [referring to 30:6]:
ו) וּמָל יְקֹוָק אֱלֹקֶיךָ אֶת לְבָבְךָ וְאֶת לְבַב זַרְעֶךָ לְאַהֲבָה אֶת יְקֹוָק אֱלֹקֶיךָ בְּכָל לְבָבְךָ וּבְכָל נַפְשְׁךָ לְמַעַן חַיֶּיךָ
God will remove [lit. circumcise] the barriers from your hearts and from the hearts of your descendants, so that you will love God your Lord with all your heart and soul. Thus will you survive.

[THAT WAS THE VERSE - HERE IS THE SHAKH:]

ומל ה', בא"ת ב"ש, פיך, לומר שעיקר המילה הפה, שישמור פיו מלדבר בו נבלה ומלאכול מאכלות אסורות, אז ומל ה' את לבבך ואת לבב זרעך, כפי המאכל כן יהיה הזרע זך, מילה בגימטריא פה
God will circumcise: The word ומל (and He circumcises), using At Ba'sh, transforms to פיך (your mouth), to say that the main component of Milah [in this case, metaphorical circumcision of the heart] is done with the mouth, namely that one should guard one's mouth from speaking dirty talk and from eating prohibited foods. Only then will God circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants (removethe barriers to penetrate a return to Him). As per the [pure] food, so too will your children be pure. Milah [מילה = 40+10+30+5] has the same numerical value as Peh [80+5 = פה].

I am sure some will take this to mean that milah must be done with the mouth.

Oy vey.

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