I came across an interesting article - the woman's personal story is intriguing, and the conflict she faces for herself is fascinating. You can read it here. As I was reading the article, it occured to me that if the "comments" section were open to the world, it would likely generate much feedback. And surely, as of this writing, there are over 300 comments.
While I only looked at the first page of comments (who has time for all that?) it became clear to me that not only does the author not understand why we do this, but all the negative commenters are also equally misguided.
The debate over whether circumcision is "mutilation" will probably go on forever. I've addressed it peripherally in this blog in the past. And, as this is a "pro-bris website" (as opposed to a pro-circumcision website), I would like to suggest reasons for why we do this, why we go through the ritual, the ceremony, and why our attitude need not echo or mirror the cynical ways of those who write negatively of "bris milah," who arrogantly believe that their own logic and emotions are wiser than thousands of years of Jewish tradition, which is grounded in a faith that brought monotheism (God) to the world.
Be as cynical as you want about organized religions. But seriously. Just because you have a computer and access to the internet does not make you right or smarter than the billions of believers that trek the planet, who devoutly and faithfully believe in God in the manner they choose to believe.
But I firmly reject the sentiments of the commenter who wrote this, mostly because in Judaism we don't focus on God's love:
Circumcision is a cruel ritual, and any god worth its salt, if god is about actual love, would never require it.On to our Reasons...
[BTW, I feel a little like a broken record -- see this posting]
1. Circumcision and Bris are not the same thing
Circumcision is a choice that people make, in the same manner that people choose to landscape their yard. Bris Milah is a fulfillment of a commandment given by God to Abraham (Genesis 17), who is claimed as a founder of monotheism by the major religions of the world. God said to him "Your name will no longer be Avram. It will now be Avraham," and God made many promises to him over this act. He was promised to have Yitzchak, the second of the forefathers of the Jewish people, a reality which could apparently not come about in his former state. Read the chapter to see it in context.
What makes it cruel? If it were cruel, I do not believe that the advanced medical world would offer it as an option to every parent who gives birth to a baby boy. Most males do not develop an obsession over their lack of foreskin as they grow older. If everything functions normally, most are grateful it was taken care of at baby age. When I do a bris, for example, as soon as I leave the baby alone and he is comfortably eating, he is fine. He doesn't seem to experience long-term discomfort, and he certainly doesn't remember it.
We can discuss methods of how to do it, how long the procedure should take, and how uncomfortable the baby needs to be during the procedure.
But there are other things that we can argue are cruel, but we understand why they are necessary and don't ask questions. Shots are cruel. Blood tests are cruel. Using a baby-wipe on broken skin (diaper rash) on a baby's bottom is cruel. Leaving a baby alone in a crib to cry for an hour (to learn how to fall asleep) is cruel. Poking holes in a child's ears is cruel. Cutting off a leg is cruel (who is going to argue though, if it is gangrenous or cancerous?). Many elective surgeries are cruel. Putting a baby under anasthesia to do a corrective surgery of an abnormal penis that can nonetheless urinate is cruel.
I know I am venturing into the ridiculous, but perhaps the people who call this cruelty and use the argument of "healthy tissue with thousands of nerve endings" do not understand the reason for removal of the foreskin. Read this for one explanation for why this isn't cruel.
[Read the next installment, Part II, here]