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Thursday, April 21, 2016

Tools of the Trade II - The Metzitzah Tube

Metzitzah - previously unknown outside of the insular world of bris milah, now a household word. What is it? Why is it done? Isn't it barbaric? Is it safe? 

I've addressed all these questions - and several essays on the subject appear on the Metzitzah Page. There is also a youtube video linked there in which the two methods of metzitzah are demonstrated.

In this posting, we are going to understand what the tubes featured so beautifully in this picture I borrowed from these guys is for, and how it is used. 

The goal of metzitzah is to draw "distant bloods" from the spot of the circumcision. While some accomplish this through squeezing the fresh circ with sterile gauze, the more traditional way to do metzitzah is with the power of the mouth. Metzitzah B'feh is often translated to mean "Suction with the mouth" and it is accomplished in one of two ways.

1. Putting the mouth directly on the wound (yes - you read correctly)
2. Putting a sterilized tube over the penis, creating a vacuum, and using the tube like a straw (goal is to draw blood out, not to get blood in mouth)

The bottom part of the photo is where the mohel puts his mouth. The top part of the photo is the part that fits easily over the baby's organ immediately post-foreskin-excision.

In my case, I put gauze in the tube to avoid any transfer of fluids between parties. It does not deter the vacuum power created when the tube is applied properly.

For traditional Jews who continue to practice metzitzah (much longer discussion for why - see Metzitzah page), this should be the preferred method over placing a mouth on a fresh wound, as putting a sterile tube on an open wound is no different than putting a sterile gauze pad on the fresh wound.

It removes any possibility for a "problem," and it brings honor to a practice that is a vestige from an ancient time, that, unlike circumcision which has a Biblical source and continues to be a hallmark of the Jewish people's identity, metzitzah has no Biblical basis, and need not take place at all for the circumcion to be kosher. 

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