Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Bavarian Authorities File First Criminal Charges For Jewish Ritual Circumcision


Authorities in the German State of Bavaria have filed the first criminal charges against a mohel--a practitioner of Jewish religious circumcision--since a German court ruled in May, in a case involving a Muslim family, that circumcision of a minor violates German law. Rabbi David Goldberg has been charged with criminal charges of causing bodily harm.

Ironically, the case is not known to have arisen from any injury suffered by a baby circumcised by Rabbi Goldberg. Indeed, Rabbi Goldberg says that he has not performed a brit mila--Jewish ritual circumcision--in Germany since the May court decision, although he would be willing to do so.

Even more ironically, recent medical evidence is substantiating the health benefits of male circumcision. As reported in yesterday's Los Angeles Times, a study just published in the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine estimates that medical costs in the United States will increase by billions of dollars due to the decline in male infant circumcision. The decline, from 80% of all male infants in the 1970s and 1980s, to below 55% currently, will result in increases in infection of HIV, human papillomavirus (HPV)and herpes simplex in men, and HPV, bacterial vaginosis and trichomoniasis in their female partners.

Nonetheless,from a Torah perspective, the health benefits of brit mila are not the issue. Even if it were conclusively demonstrated that there was no medical benefit of brit mila whatsoever, it would remain a commandment given to the Jewish nation by God and the symbol of the covenant between God and the Jewish people.

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