Where can we go to get resources to combat the illigitmate threat to the Jewish right to circumcision that is taking place and growing today?

Answer:

The people objecting to circumcision won’t be persuaded by any rational argument.

There is, however, importance in ensuring that the “public debate” does not go in their favor. This is not always easy, because one has to “speak their language.”

A basic argument is that a parent has the basic right, or autonomy, to have his child circumcised. Circumcision is seen as a matter of Jewish identity and self-definition, and it is wrong for a person to be denied his right to self-definition.

Moreover, the weight of a thousand-year custom cannot be dismissed. Nobody is obligating others to circumcise their children, but those who object cannot deny the freedom of religion to those who wish to follow their ancient customs (where no damage is caused to general society).

Furthermore, most people agree that a parent has the right to smack his children on occassion, not out of spite but for the sake of bringing them up in the way he sees fit (although this right is debated; in some European countries there is a civil law prohibition on smacking, and in Israel there it has been ruled as illegal by the judiciary — but in the US there is virtually no legislation concerning this matter).

In the same sense, if a parent believes that spiritual wellbeing depends on circumcision, he should not be denied the right to do this.

An additional point worth noting is the small but well-defined health benefits that circumcision involves (lower rates of infection, cancer, sexually transmitted diseases, and more). Can a parent not choose to give his child these benefits?

It is not necessarily simple to engage in this type of argumentation, but sometimes there is no choice.

Tags: benefits bris milah health Legal

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2 Responses to “Fighting Threat to Circumcision”

  1. We don’t do it for the health benefits; we do it because the Eibeshter said so. Circumcision is not c”v merely a “nice custom.” How can you leave the Eibeshter out of the picture?

    • Correct, that is not why WE are doing it. The point over here is to talk to the people objecting millah in a language they they will be able to understand.

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