Lying To Protect Metzitzah B'Peh
Haredi representatives use lies to protect metzitzah b'peh (MBP), the direct oral-to-penis sucking done by many mohels (Jewish ritual circumcisers) immediately after cutting off the baby’s foreskin, from regulation by NYC's Board of Health.
Regulating Metzitzah B’Peh?
Shmarya Rosenberg • FailedMessiah.com
A New York City’s Board of Mental Health and Hygiene held a hearing yesterday to discuss plans to have parents sign a consent form that details the risks of metzitzah b’peh (MBP), the direct oral-to-penis sucking done by many mohels (Jewish ritual circumcisers) immediately after cutting off the baby’s foreskin.
As you’d expect, haredi rabbis showed up to defend the practice – which has killed several children and caused severe brain damage in at least two others, along with infecting at least a dozen more in the NYC metropolitan area and its suburbs during the past 11 years alone.
There are no firm statistics, but based on the stats I’ve seen, a baby is more likely to be sickened or killed by MBP than by gun violence, meaning that if all American babies were circumcised at eight days and had MBP done to them, more would end up hospitalized and maimed than American children up to the age of 5 are killed or injured by gun violence.
Despite that, and despite the US Centers for Disease Control’s warning on MBP’s dangers, haredi rabbis leapt to the defense of MBP. And, as has been their norm, they did so in part by lying.
Rabbi A. Romi Cohn American Board of Ritual Circumcision reportedly made sure to tell the hearing that he is a Holocaust survivor – presumably to link any regulation of MBP to Nazi antisemitism.
Then Cohn tried to blame disease transmitted by MBP on untrained, unapproved mohels.
“I myself have performed 25,000 circumcisions, and, thank God, we have not had one single incident … our guidelines are, I think, much stricter than the medical profession.”
But, Cohn claimed, some people who are not certified mohels according to halakha, Jewish law, pretend to be and do circumcisions.
“This is completely forbidden, but unfortunately they are doing it. These people don’t know what sterility means. They don’t know about infection. We try to tell parents that if they choose a circumciser, he should be board-certified.”
What Cohn did not tell the hearing is that Rabbi Yitzchok Fischer, who has infected children with MBP who ended up maimed or dead, has kabbalah, the ordination halakha requires to mohels to have. He also has the backing of many haredi rabbis – including senior haredi rabbis.
So does Rabbi Yonoson Binyomin Goldberger, who wrote a leading book on supporting MBP and circumcision that was endorsed by leading haredi rabbis. He was forced to stop doing MBP after he infected at least two children with herpes through MBP.
Rabbi Cohn is a liar.
So is a Chabad mohel, Rabbi Levi Heber.
“Being a mohel is a religious status…I cannot follow an outside authority,” Heber, the director of the International Bris Association, reportedly told the hearing. “If we feel that our religious freedom is being restricted, we have the right to challenge it in court … we are ready, if needed, to challenge this.”
But Jewish law mandates Jews to follow the law of land unless it directly conflicts with a Torah law, and Jewish law does not consider MBP to be a part of the circumcision ritual itself. Instead, it is a health measure done to speed healing, just like putting cumin powder on the baby’s open penis wound. Both MBP and cumin powder have exactly the same status in Jewish law, and they are not part of the biblically mandated circumcision procedure.
But cumin powder hasn’t been used by mohels in a very long time, because better sources of promoting healing have been found.
Only haredim treat MBP as frozen in time, as if 1800 year old Mishnaic medicine, itself based on Galen, who lived decades before that, trumps empirical science, antibiotics and germ transmission theory. But it doesn’t, not in real life and not even in halakha.
And so haredim continue to lie.
The Board of Health plans to issue its decision on the informed consent this September.
For his part, NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg – who sold out to Satmar the last time this issue was in the spotlight, after Satmar dressed some of its hasidim in Holocaust death camp uniforms and yellow stars and accused Bloomberg of mimicking the Nazis – has been nearly silent about the city’s most recent infant death from MBP, while at the same time he banned big gulp sodas and railed against guns. In the latter case, he blamed President Obama for not taking action to ban assault rifles and regulate sales of large caliber ammunition.
Obama, Bloomberg said, had let politics get in the way of doing the right thing.
And Bloomberg should know because that is exactly what Bloomberg did with MBP seven years ago, and it is exactly what he’s doing with it now.