For the week ending 2 November 2013 / 29 Heshvan 5774

Cutting out Circumcision

by Rabbi Yirmiyahu Ullman -
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From: Manny

Dear Rabbi,

Does the decision of the Council of Europe denouncing circumcision have any bearing on religious performance of this mitzvah? Would their recommendation of requiring consent at age 14 be taken into account to delay the brit milah?

Dear Manny,

Absolutely not! G-d commanded the Jewish People to circumcise their male children on the eighth day of life and human beings, no matter how ostensibly well-intended, have no authority to overrule G-d.

While there are circumstances in which brit milah may be postponed according to Torah Law, primarily for reasons pertaining to the well-being of the child, objections by non-Jews, themselves not commanded to circumcise, are not regarded.

However, if such a policy were ever enforced, even though it would have no direct bearing on the actual performance of the mitzvah, it would effectively cause Jews to leave the countries that would adopt it. Perhaps this is in underlying motive for some who are promoting the decision.

In truth, not only does the council have no authority to overrule G-d, as representatives of the European nations and peoples, they have no moral right to make that decision.

For one, the Jewish people have been fulfilling G-d's command to circumcise for thousands of years – much of which time Europe's ancestors were still barbarian, pagan idolaters. A Europe whose morality is founded on the Torah cannot claim G-d's command to the Jews to circumcise to be immoral.

Second, insofar as the concern is based on "unjustified" pain inflicted on Jewish children being circumcised, if this were the only pain ever inflicted on Jews in Europe, the continent should rightly be called "Eutopia". Representatives of peoples who for more than a millennia perpetrated the most horrific and murderous acts against the entire Jewish People, young and old, man and woman, healthy and infirm, have no right to impose empathy for our children.

Finally, the decision is biased and hypocritical. The same Council of Europe espouses religious freedom yet decries Jewish religious circumcision. And how can the same council denounce as a violation of the integrity of the human body a parent's decision to remove his son's foreskin while simultaneously endorsing a parent's decision to abort, thereby completely terminating his child's life?

Rather, the Council should recommend postponing abortion till 14 when the child can offer his consent…

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