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  #1  
November 7th, 2005, 12:40 PM
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I just would like a question answered for me.

I am Jewish. But unfortunately, I do not understand or know why jewish boys are circumsized *and to be very honest, I am too embarrassed to talk to my rabbi...he is very orthodox and tends to make me feel uncomfortable*

I have been trying to do some research online, but I am not given the reason why we circumsize our boys. I know during the bris, our little ones are given their hebrew names, and from what I have gotten from some websites, a boy is only considered holy *in the jewish religion* if he has been circumsized. Is this correct? Is this the only reason? I have always planned on circ'ing my boys *if and when I have little boys* But lately I have been wondering...why?

Thank you all for any information you can give me.
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  #2  
November 8th, 2005, 02:50 AM
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Ashley, I'm not Jewish but I've read a lot about this. at school, college, and church. As a mere gentile I write what follows humbly, hoping I don't tread on any Jewish sensitivities and acknowledge those who are better educated than I am in this subject.

Our Christian Churches base their theology on Judaism and your/our Old Testament. Early on it says God made a covenant with Abraham, ie, an agreement:

That He was and is the one and only God.

That he chose the Jewish people to reveal himself progressively to them, and ultimately through them, this would be a revelation to all humankind

In return for unswerving loyalty and obedience, Abraham's family and his descendants would enjoy God's favour and protection.

You can read all about it in Genesis Chapter 17. As a mark of His everlasting covenant, it says: "Every male among you shall be circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin." Of course the Jews broke this covenant many times but God always forgave them and renewed it. An interesting occasion is described in Joshua Chapter 5

It's likely that the Jews took readily to God's instruction to circumcise, and still cling to it as an important mainstay of their faith today, because they discovered it's hygienic, health promoting and sexual advantages. For a wandering people in desert conditions with blown fine sand and a scarcity of water, it is a very practical modification. It's also better for women if their male partner is circumcised. Other nations have observed this too and both primitive and developed civilisations have adopted it as a rite of passage, or as in the case of modern America, because of it's prophylactic and cosmetic appeal.

When Jewish parents circumcise their sons they are obeying God's commandment to do it to all male children on the eighth day. It is a mark of their child belonging to God and this great tribe of his chosen people. Circumcision cannot be undone. Once a foreskin is gone, it's gone, and doesn't grow again. In this way it represents what the everlasting covenant with God is intended to be.

Whilst this mark is on a very private part of a boy, it is something he cannot always hide. In some situations like public changing rooms and medical examinations, it is easily verified. For the boy himself, it is a mark he sees several times of day as a reminder of who he is and to whom he belongs.

Let's hope that you have a boy if that's what you want Ashley. You probably already realise you will find his bris very helpful with it's traditions and prayers. Jewish boys are circumcised in a special way which makes it more meaningful than mere surgery. I envy you your culture and hope I have provided some background information which will help you talk to your Rabbi in future.
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  #3  
November 8th, 2005, 02:32 PM
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Thank you for your insight. Most of my husband's family is from Israel, and I talked to his grandmother last night and discussed it with her. She confirmed that Abraham circumsized himself and it was how boys were seen as holy in God's eyes...but that was all she knew. Also, a boy can not be bar mitzvah'ed if he is not circ'ed.

I guess my reasoning for this questioning is that if and when I do have a little boy, I do not want to make the decision to circ based on a "silly" tradition *not saying a bris IS silly* I want the decision to be based upon a meaningful tradition.
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  #4  
November 8th, 2005, 02:46 PM
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Perhaps DavidsMommy can share some insight
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  #5  
November 8th, 2005, 05:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by mommyofdani@Nov 7 2005, 02:40 PM
I just would like a question answered for me.

I am Jewish. But unfortunately, I do not understand or know why jewish boys are circumsized *and to be very honest, I am too embarrassed to talk to my rabbi...he is very orthodox and tends to make me feel uncomfortable*

I have been trying to do some research online, but I am not given the reason why we circumsize our boys. I know during the bris, our little ones are given their hebrew names, and from what I have gotten from some websites, a boy is only considered holy *in the jewish religion* if he has been circumsized. Is this correct? Is this the only reason? I have always planned on circ'ing my boys *if and when I have little boys* But lately I have been wondering...why?

Thank you all for any information you can give me.
<div align="right"><{POST_SNAPBACK}>
[/quote]

HI!

Well, the bris is one of the most important commandments in Judaism. There are many different explanations as to the why we perform it, but the main reason is because it is more than a commandment from G-d, it is the sign of the Covenant.

But the brit milah holds a lot of significance. A Jewish man cannot achieve his full potential capacity is he's uncircumcised. Adam was originally created without a foreskin. After the sin a spiritual barrier was created within Adam and it was physically reflected in the form of the foreskin. The actual Hebrew word for foreskin, orlah, literally means "barrier". Every physical aspect of humans is an actual reflection of their spirituality, therefore, acting on the physical has a repercussion on the spiritual as well. That's why Judaism is a very "physical" religion in the sense that we have rules on how to eat, dress, speak, and act. All of our physical actions have a consequence on the spiritual world, either positive or negative.
Because of this, by removing the physical foreskin, we remove that spiritual barrier that will prevent a Jewish man from achieving the spiritual level he needs to gain his place in the World to Come. The punishment for avoiding this commandment is clearly stated in the Torah- karet- spiritual excision. The man looses his place in the World to Come. If he chooses to have a bris by the time he's responsible for his own choices (13 y/o) the karet for him is lifted and he may correct any spiritual damage that was done. However, the sin remains with the parents (more specifically, the father, since the commandment is given to him).
The brit milah has also been associated with the unnatural survival of the Jewish people. G-d promised Abraham that as long as the Jewish people observed this commandment, even if they forsake all others, they wouldn't be destroyed. If you notice, this is the only practice that is done by every single Jewish denomination and even Jews that don't observe any other commandment, faithfully give their sons a bris. Historicaly speaking, there's no explanation for the continous survival of the Jewish people. A group without a land, being a minority in every country they live in, scattered around the world, without a common language and constantly persecuted even with attempts at elimination cannot possibly survive. And yet, Jews still exist. You can ask any historian, there's no rational explanation for that.

Anyway, here are some links that can answer more of your questions. Feel free to post or PM me if you have any other questions.


http://www.circumcision.net/ (Great site for information)

http://www.aish.com/literacy/lifecycle/Wha...ision$.asp

http://www.aish.com/literacy/lifecycle/Bri...baric$.asp

http://www.aish.com/literacy/lifecyc...m-Decision.asp

http://www.aish.com/torahportion/may...tting_Edge.asp

http://www.chabad.org/library/article.asp?AID=144122

http://www.aish.com/literacy/lifecycle/Its_a_Boy!.asp

www.askmoses.com (this is more for questions)

http://www.drjesin.com/brisWelcome.html (this is a mohel's website, but it has some good info, especially in the "anti-Milah response" link))

http://www.hanefesh.com/edu/Circumcision.htm

http://www.act-now.org/

Sharon
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  #6  
November 9th, 2005, 11:33 AM
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As a person who is not Jewish... that was really interesting to read. because I didn't know because I had never studied the Jewish faith. Thanks DavidsMommy for the info
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  #7  
November 9th, 2005, 12:56 PM
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Yes! Thank you so much Sharon!!!
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  #8  
November 9th, 2005, 02:10 PM
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No problem. Always willing to inform on this subject.
I've seen so many parents being sucked in into believing there's an acceptable alternative to the brith milah when this isn't true. Religiously speaking, there's no such a thing. No alternative, no matter how nicely suggested is acceptable in judaism to avoid having a proper bris. Plain and simple.
Now, if a Jewish parent doesn't care about that and chooses not to circumcise his/her son, that's their problem and they're free to do so. But if a Jewish parent wants to observe the commandment as "kosherly" as possible, then he/she should know that nothing else can take the place of the brit milah. I've seen parents that truly believed they did something that was acceptable for mainstream judaism (because they were told it was so) only to learn that they were lied to and faced the tough decision of giving their son a bris much later. I have a wonderful article written by one of those people that's a bit too long to post here, but I'd be happy to send it to whoever's interested.
I really hope this information helped clear up some misinformation and doubts.

Sharon
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  #9  
November 10th, 2005, 08:08 PM
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I am sorry this has taken me so long to respond! Thank you so much for clearing this up for me. To be honest, I was checking out some websites and it just did not make sense to me. One website pretty much stated the reason why jewish males are circ'ed is because Abraham circ'ed himself. Another website stated that a jewish boy can not enter manhood and have a bar mitzvah if he is not circ'ed. Needless to say, the websites I looked at never explained WHY.

Thank you again for telling me the true reason. If and when we do have a little boy, I want to make the right choices for him...and not to put down some jewish parents, but they merely give a bris because they are told it is tradition *I happen to be related to quite a few* Again...I just want to make sure I make the right choices for my children, both in my eyes and in the eyes of God.
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  #10  
November 11th, 2005, 02:34 PM
Mom2DavidandAaron's Avatar Mega Super Mommy
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Quote:
Originally posted by mommyofdani+Nov 10 2005, 10:08 PM-->
Quote:
I am sorry this has taken me so long to respond! Thank you so much for clearing this up for me. To be honest, I was checking out some websites and it just did not make sense to me. One website pretty much stated the reason why jewish males are circ'ed is because Abraham circ'ed himself. Another website stated that a jewish boy can not enter manhood and have a bar mitzvah if he is not circ'ed. Needless to say, the websites I looked at never explained WHY.[/b]

Actually, the Rambam said that circumcision isn't performed because Abraham did it. The reason it is performed is because it's a commandment given to the Jewish people, according to Moses Law. That's really the nly reason behind every commandment, even though many of them have been proven to be good for you in the physical aspect (circumcision being one of them). However, Judaism believes that every commandment is good for you, even if you cannot see it or understand it. Think of it this way, you tell your child that unless he finishes his veggies, there's no dessert. He cannot possibly understand why you're putting him through that. But you, as a mom, knows that it's good for him to eat his veggies.

<!--QuoteBegin-mommyofdani
@Nov 10 2005, 10:08 PM
Thank you again for telling me the true reason. If and when we do have a little boy, I want to make the right choices for him...and not to put down some jewish parents, but they merely give a bris because they are told it is tradition *I happen to be related to quite a few* Again...I just want to make sure I make the right choices for my children, both in my eyes and in the eyes of God.
Actually, a good response to the "tradition" line is: Eating lox and bagels after the bris is tradition, the bris is a commandment.
The difference? One has a deeper meaning, one doesn't. One is optional, one isn't. One can be changed, the other can't.

Sharon
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  #11  
December 1st, 2005, 06:39 PM
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Quote:
Actually, a good response to the "tradition" line is: Eating lox and bagels after the bris is tradition, the bris is a commandment.
The difference? One has a deeper meaning, one doesn't. One is optional, one isn't. One can be changed, the other can't.

Sharon[/b]

This is the statement that really brings it all together for ME

Thank you for all of the above statements. I am Jewish and my husband is not. We are having many discussions about this. I have pretty much copied and pasted the whole forum to him, I hope that is ok.

Liz
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  #12  
December 4th, 2005, 05:31 PM
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Feel free to do that.
Hope it helps!

Sharon
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  #13  
December 8th, 2005, 12:48 PM
Llamamama's Avatar Mega Super Mommy
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Quote:
Feel free to do that.
Hope it helps!

Sharon[/b]

Thanks! We're actually going to have a talk with my family Rabbi about everything... and I mean EVERYTHING.
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