Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The Inauthenticity of "Authenticity"

A mohel in NY called me recently because he was watching a bris on YouTube at which I was the mohel, and he had a comment about the timing of my putting on my gloves. His observation was duly noted, but I had to inform him that I wear two pairs of gloves, the top one protecting the lower pair in the moments leading up to the bris.

I find it much easier and quicker to take off a pair of gloves, rather than put them on, at the moment I am ready to begin.

Apparently my back was 'facing' the camera. He rewatched it and was able to discern, by the sound and the pause, that what I said was accurate. A few minutes later, he texted me that he "got it," and we shared a few tidbits about the trade.

Please understand - I was so appreciative of the phone call! Because here is a mohel who understands that sterility is no joke, and the appearance of sterility must meet with a reality of sterility.

So this was a breath of fresh air. Because the truth is, there is a world of mohels and their legitimizers who believe that the way that Abraham circumcised, and the way our ancestors in Europe circumcised, is the only authentic way to do it.

Whether they are against the use of the pipette for metzitzah, a hemostat for efficiency, a shield for protection of the glans (shudder!), gloves for sterility, or the highest standards of sterility that could be maintained outside of the Operating Room (because heaven forfend the bris koidesh should be viewed as surgery in any way - this is not a medical procedure! This is a mitzvah!), their vision of "maintaining authenticity" makes a mockery of medical advances, germ theories, and safety precautions that should be standard fare for every mohel who "operates" (yes, operates) on any child.

The truth is that the only authentic bris is the one that presents no inherent possibility of danger to the baby, beyond what the Torah obligates - that the foreskin be removed accompanied by the blood of the circumcision. Pain should be minimal, bleeding should be minimal, and risk of infection or damage should be NONEXISTENT.

This is authentic. This is living up to the tradition and covenant of Avraham Avinu.

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