Sunday, November 10, 2013

Achieving Perfection

Every mohel worth his sense tries to get a perfect circumcision every time. Some estimate the foreskin - others (I wish it were many more) use a surgical marker to note where the edge of the foreskin is (I offer for parents to see what this refers to when we meet in advance of the bris).

Any circumcision must account for a little bit of human imperfection - and I love quoting the line of the urologist grandfather who told me, "The penis is a very forgiving organ" meaning that for all the circumcisions that don't look perfect that he sees, most turn out fine on account of the way this organ heals over time.

While I have had my share of "perfect jobs," it would be dishonest for me (or any mohel, or any surgeon) to say that EVERY procedure goes perfectly without a hitch. Many do. But there are those that are a little more complicated. Thankfully, many "hitches" (when they occur) can be corrected, and I try to fix them ASAP after the bris. 

So what is referred to by "Achieving Perfection?"

It is the instruction given to Avraham at his bris! "Avraham - walk before me and become perfect" (some translate perfect as "complete." The Hebrew word is "Tamim" = תמים.)

The perspective of Jews that have always embraced circumcision as a mitzvah is that the act of circumcision makes the Jewish male complete.

[The thought process continues suggesting that women do not need a circumcision because they are created physically complete.]

Anti-circumcision people sometimes argue that a baby is born perfect. What gives us the right to do anything to the child.

It is a good argument. But it is ignorant of Jewish knowledge. Which is why we ignore it.

Parents cut umbilical cords, they cut hair, they cut fingernails, they clean out earwax, they pierce ears, they put injections, blood tests, and in some cases choose surgery as an option for either an emergency reason, or, in some cases, a cosmetic reason (yes! even on babies!). 

So we will continue to aim to achieve the perfection God spoke of in Genesis 17 (and we will not yell at anyone who cuts a "natural" umbilical cord off of its baby owner). That is our goal when we undertake the Bris Milah.