Brit Blee Milah: Something New or Nothing at All?
By Nachum Mohl
Recently I received an email that was mailed to me by someone who I do not know nor did I ask to receive emails from presenting to me a 'new' and 'improved version' of the Brit Milah. They call it the Brit Blee Milah meaning a covenant without circumcision.
In the body of the email it claimed:
Already, over 100 Rabbi's, Cantors, Moyels, and Jewish leaders in the United States perform Brit Blee Milah (literally covenant without cutting) ceremonies rather than the violent and damaging surgery of circumcision. Sometimes these non-violent covenants, that involve no cutting or surgery are also called brit shalom, brit shem or brit hayim. In this way they enter the boy into the covenant while still obeying the Mitzvah of not violating the body in any way. More and more Jewish parents are skipping the violent surgery of circumcision and choosing to keep their sons complete.
I am aware that there are some people in San Francisco that are putting to vote a ban on circumcision. It seems a bit strange that a practice that is as old as the Bible and was divinely given to the Jews as a divine commandment should be subject to being outlawed. Even moreso, according to the person sending this misleading email is telling me that I can enter the boy into the covenant while still obeying the Mitzvah of not violating the body. I am still searching for the place in the Torah that tells me that when I perform the mitzvah of milah I am guilty of transgressing the mitzvah of violating the body.
The author of the email seems to be unaware that a ban on milah would be contrary to the United States' policy of freedom of religious practices law. Circumcision has been accepted by Jews since there have been Jews and it has been and is an integral part of being Jewish.
The claim of the above email is that the Brit is violent is just a wee bit exaggerated in my humble opinion. Having been to many brits, I have never seen it as a violent act, rather I look upon it as a continuation of a chain of constant Jewish tradition from the times of Abraham. I have never seen a mohel looking like the sadistic monster that the proponents of anti brit laws make him out to be. You tell me, are these people who are against the circumcision saying that all of our Jewish forefathers were violent and damaging sadistic and deranged people? I take offence.
Also, I wonder what damage is done by a circumcision? When I was a boy in non-Jewish public school in America, I remember the teacher of our hygiene class extolling the merits of having a circumcision. According to the (non Jewish) teacher, it promoted a higher level of cleanliness in that area. I recall being told that the circumcision reduced the possibilities of infection and diseases. Later I also learned that when the foreskin was removed the pleasure of sexual relations was increased. For these reasons many non-Jews would get a circumcision for themselves and their children.
But what troubles me is that in addition to this email, I was given the names of many 'rabbis' who are against the traditional brit. Instead of doing the proper brit as has been given over to us from the time of Abraham, and given as a divine commandment from the time that the Torah was given to us at Mount Sinai some three thousand years ago, these 'rabbis' have seen fit to not only make 'kosher' the pig, but to make 'unkosher' that which has been kosher for over three thousand years.
Naïve Jews who have little experience with much of Judaism can be easily hood-winked by people who have some sort of rabbinic training exploit it to deceive the naïve few. What do these foolish 'rabbis' gain by deriding a Jewish tradition that has been accepted not only by the very orthodox, but also by the most reform and non observant? For some reason they have decided to make a 'new' brit. In effect these naïve people who will follow such crazy ideas are not fulfilling the Jewish precept in any manner except for 'greasing' the 'rabbi's' palm with money.
The circumcision is the sign of the pact between the descendents of Abraham, Issac and Jacob and God. Who ever has been circumcised properly (meaning a brit) is included in the covenant between God and the Jewish people. Who ever does not have this sign (the proper brit) is excluded from being counted as a Jew. Would you want your son or yourself excluded from being a Jew?
It is a shame that scoundrels like those who sent me the email have such a poor self image of themselves that they feel the need to redo the image of a Jew by changing the divine commandments. There will certainly be no blessing for those who pervert the nature of our people's customs.
The Jewish brit has been an integral part of being Jewish since Jews appeared on this earth. If some one wishes to deny his children this identity, perhaps he should raise him with no religion. That is certainly better for the child than his parents believing that circumcision is violent and damaging. What is violent and damaging, in my opinion, is these arrogant self deceiving 'rabbis' who fester animosity by advocating a newer re-constituted Jew, meaning a Jew who does not himself know what a Jew was, what a Jew is, and what being a Jew is all about.
* * * * *
For more articles on Jewish Traditions, see our Traditions Archives
For more articles on Jewish Life, see our Jewish Life Archives
from the July 2011 Edition of the Jewish Magazine