GUEST COMMENTARY: Expanding the debate around circumcision

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(RNS) Beliefs about circumcision will not be easy to change, but questioning circumcision is already happening for Jews. A proposed law in Germany to ban circumcision on young boys offers a chance to expand the debate and move the conversation forward. By Ronald Goldman.

  • Chai

    As a Jewish woman living in the U.S., I greatly appreciate Ronald Goldman’s enlightened perspective and positive suggestions regarding circumcision. Education and open discussion are key elements in addressing the concerns of all parties, while maintaining a commitment to respecting body integrity for little boys.

  • Ronald Sevenster

    Judaism cannot exist without circumcision. Circumcision is its core rite. It expresses the fact the covenant HaShem made with Abraham goes on from generation to generation. Judaism is not a religion of subjective personal choice. The Torah was given to the nation, to the community.

    As to the supposed bodily harm, are we to believe that secularists and the destroyers of the Jewish religion are protecting Jewish children better than traditional Jewish parents? Circumcision has been performed as long as the Jewish nation existed and no harm has occurred to the nation because of it, except the harm caused by its haters and persecutors.

    To interpret the criterion of bodily integrety in the manner Goldman does is simply a case of suppression of a religion because of a secular dogma. This secular dogma is not religiously neutral. It is based on individualistic assumptions.

    Circumcision is a clear and unambiguous command of the Written Torah. Jews who reject this central command face the possibility of being cut off by the Hand of Heaven. And one can be sure that severe penalties will come to the Jewish nation if important sections of it should succumb to the temptation of not performing this central rite.

    It is not circumcision which causes harm; the real harm comes from the godless propaganda of the religion of Enlightenment Secularism. This Enightenment philosophy displays the same arrogant attitude to Judaism and to all religions as does traditional Catholic Replacement Theology. Replacement Theology declares that Judaism and its rituals have become obsolete in the Christian era. Enlightenment Secularism is a repetition and intensification of Replacement Theology by declaring all traditional religions obsolete.

    Secularists who claim that they can decide for traditional Jews what is best for them are under the spell of a dangerous delusion.

  • Miriam Pollack

    Excellent, balanced article. What is missing from the hysterics which characterize the circumcision debate are exactly the points Ron Goldman has illuminated: the function of the foreskin and the short and long term consequences of its traumatic removal. Additionally, the ethically question looms large in this discussion. How can any medical doctor or religious adult facilitate the forcible pinning down of a helpless new life to permanently remove healthy, functional sexual tissue? As a Jewish woman deeply connected to both my people and religion, I find this part of Judaism in obvious conflict with Jewish principles of reverence and protection of all life–especially, the most helpless.

  • Richard Scalper

    They brand men like a herd of cows. American men are such wimps to let their sons be subjected to this

    absurd surgery. If it were women tied down & cut, the Feminists would be howling all over the world.

    The male genitals are a cheap commodity. There is no argument too absurd for the circumcisers. They

    insult the appearance of the intact penis, claim that circumcision heals everything from body warts to

    HIV, and draw an illogical distinction between female & male genitals. Circumcision is the mark of a

    slave, not a free man.

    Top Ten Tortures Less Painful Than Circumcision

    10. Get waterboarded.
    9. Pull out your fingernails.
    8. Eat a pile of steaming bear crap.
    7. Skin yourself alive.
    6. Fall into a vat of molten iron.
    5. Get run over by a train.
    4. Go through a sausage grinder.
    3. Saw off your legs.
    2. Poke out your eyes.
    1. Go To Hell


  • Tina Kimmel, PhD, MSW, MPH

    I appreciate the brilliant analysis by Dr. Goldman. From my perspective, if secular governments simply made circumcision illegal — just like any other form of extreme child abuse — then observant Jews such as Mr. Sevenster would be able to say “Circumcision is still a requirement of our religion, but unfortunately we can’t practice it, because the Law of the Land prohibits it”.

  • Lori Lange

    Here lies the real kind of circumcision it is of the heart !!! And “namal and mawl” were to snip cut mark not remove the 4skin that would of been FORBIDDEN as a pagan blood ritual and 9times out of ten these babies at 8 days old would of died and Abraham being 99 years old wouldnt of hade the”Pharonic””circumcision”? that is “mutilation by the way in Genesis 17 there was to be a Mark of the covenenant “in the flesh of the 4skin” how can that of came about if there is no 4skin to have a mark “in it”? Back way when when the Jews wanted to engadge in Olympic Games because nudity was involved somehow how was it they were able to
    “hide” thier scars from the cutting? that should behoove us to look deeper into textual refrences and see what is taken out of context to suit a religious rite or is it a human rite? we have to ask our selves does Yah want us to m”mutilate” and cause pain to our sons? does He require blood of the innocents this is what He said He hated now doesnt this kind Periah circumcising =and euphemism for mutilation seem a bit barbaric there is alternatives we need to come to the place where there is a deliverance of our bodies as whole unto Him as a B’rit Shalom…He desires a “Broken pierced contrite heart!! He will no wise despise the way Abraham had it done not “Periah” expose the glands!!! This mutilation practice from Periah came about from Egypt mark my word also Mesopotamia!! Seek what im saying for your selves this is not going to cut any one off from YHVH’s Heaven if they are not cut!!! That does not SAVE anyone Abraham was called a Zaddick for his believing his faith alone way before circumcision came on the scene!! Now does this behoove us to look and dig deeper into our Torah and Tenakh?