Ultra-Orthodox rabbis meet with NYC mayor Michael Bloomberg regarding ritual circumcision, August 11, 2005. (Photo credit: Edward Reed)
Today's New York Times reports on the controversy over oral suction (metzitza b'peh) done during some ritual circumcisions. The money quote:
… Rabbi Moshe Tendler, a microbiologist and professor of Talmud and medical ethics at Yeshiva University, said that metzitzah b'peh violates Jewish law.
"The rule that's above all rules in the Torah is that you cannot expose or accept a risk to health unless there is true justification for it," said Dr. Tendler, co-author of a 2004 article in the journal Pediatrics that said direct contact posed a serious risk of infection.
"Now there have been several cases of herpes in the metro area," he said. "Whether it can be directly associated with this mohel nobody knows. All we're talking about now is presumptive evidence, and on that alone it would be improper according to Jewish law to do oral suction."…
A bit brash, but Rabbi Tendler is correct – halakhicly, metzitza b'peh should not be done until thorough peer-reviewed studies prove it safe for all infants.
For a more detailed look at the controversy, see this post. A Chabad take on the issue as well as more background can be read here.