“Unemaltem ate besar arlatchem v’haya leote berith banee u’veneychem.” (Beraysheet 17:11). “And you shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskin and it shall be a sign of a covenant between Me and you.” So says the Torah. And there is more. Look at Genesis 17:14. “and the uncircumcised male who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin, that soul shall be cut off from his people; he has broken My covenant.”
There is today a concerted effort on the part of some so-called Jews and many of their non-Jewish friends to bring the practice of circumcision among Jews into disrepute. The reason for this assault on this most ancient Jewish practice is the same as the effort to label kosher slaughtering “cruelty to animals” or “gastronomical Judaism”; the same that motivates our self-haters to call Judaism a “fossil religion”; the same that weeps tears over the Arab terrorists while ignoring Jewish suffering; the same that denounces Jewish day schools as “too parochial”.
is of course difficult to be a Jew. Unlike any other people, we are endlessly
criticized if not murdered for everything we do, do not do, say or do not say.
there are nearly one billion Moslems in this world. Having copied Jewish customs
and beliefs, Moslems, like Jews, eat only kosher meat. Moslem men, like Jews,
cover their heads while praying or at any time. Like Jews, Moslems believe in
the absolute unity of Hashem; and like Jews, Moslems circumcise boys, but
also circumcise girls.
An example of a largely Jewish anti-circumcision group is the the
"Circumcision Resource Center" of Boston. We
notice that the “Circumcision Resource Center”, which criticizes Jewish
circumcision, has nothing to say about these Moslem practices although female
circumcision is prohibited in the United States.
Male circumcision has become so common among Americans generally, that
few men have ever seen an uncircumcised penis.
nature of circumcision is the removal of the foreskin from the penis so as to
expose the glans. The word “glans” means acorn because the erectile tissue
in both men and women has the shape of an acorn.
is practiced in many cultures. From the Polynesians to the Mayas of Yucatan and
the natives of Africa circumcision is a widespread practice. In many cultures
circumcision is believed to insure fertility. It also represents the attainment
of manhood among those who practice this at puberty when it is extremely painful
so that the youngster involved is obliged to exhibit a great deal of courage to
undergo this practice.
Jews these motives were never present. Among us, circumcision implies a
“consecration” to Israel and the Jewish people. The view is that this
rite relates each Jewish man to all the generations that went before him and
hence relates him to Abraham, the first Jew.
is of course one of the functions of religion to relate the believer to the
history of his people and to institute a line of succession between those living
now and those who came before us. The Brith Abraham does exactly that.
enemies of the Jews have in the past shown great hostility to circumcision. This
is no longer feasible for them since the Arab Moslems, who sincerely believe
that no Jew has the right to live, are themselves circumcised. In Europe,
however, the non-Jewish population was seldom circumcised, so that this Jewish
practice was ridiculed and lampooned. In short, the European bigots and
Jew-haters held the same opinions of circumcision that is now promoted by the
substantially Jewish “Circumcision Resource Center”.
the past, Jewish circumcision was forbidden by anti-Jewish hate mongers.
Antiochus IV, the Seleucid Greek king of Syria, prohibited the practice in the
“Syrian province of Judah” leading to the Maccabean revolt of 168 B.C.E.
(Before the Common Era). After the revolt of the Jews under the leadership of
Bar Kochba against the Romans in 132 C.E. (Common Era), circumcision was
prohibited by the Emperor Hadrian.
Jewish philosopher Philo, who lived in Egypt in the first century, supported the
rite of circumcision, claiming that it was an aid to personal hygiene and
circumcision is almost universally practiced by American Jews and non-Jews.
Among Jews the practice refers to Jewish identity. As a symbol of that identity
we need to preserve that custom just as we need to preserve all symbols of our
identity in a world ever-hostile to our survival and ever ready to single out
our people as the targets of animosity and murder.
that at the end of the circumcision ceremony the child is given his name.
Thereupon the father and all present say, “As he entered into the Covenant so
may he enter into the study of Torah and come to the Chuppah (the marriage
ceremony) and come to perform good deeds.”
us keep the Brith Abraham, no matter what our enemies say. Never mind the
so-called Jewish “Circumcision Resource Center.” These people are never
satisfied until they have erased Judaism from the face of the earth. In that,
however, they shall never succeed any more than any of our other enemies will
ever succeed either now or at any time. May we have the courage to resist and be
without fear as we sing at the conclusion of each Shabbat service: “Adonai Lee
Dr. Gerhard Falk is the author of Stigma: How We Treat Outsiders (Prometheus Books, 2001) and over 60 other publications.