2.03.2006

Gefilte Flesh: So Foreskin Is Kosher? Phew!

NYC Battles Vampire Rabbis

from Sploid

New guidelines issued by New York City’s health commissioner calls for rabbis to stop sucking the blood from the freshly cut foreskin of infant boys. It does not explicitly ban the practice, however.

In an open letter to the Jewish community Commissioner Thomas Frieden explained that during his survey it was found that one rabbi had served as mohel to three infants that had neonatal herpes. The odds of this happening by chance are roughly one in 7 million.

The move comes after an investigation revealed that one baby had died, another had incurred brain damage and several had contracted neonatal herpes as a result of metzitzah b'peh, the ceremonial sucking of blood by a mohel from the wound of a circumcised infant.

Some 3,700 years ago, God made Abraham a deal: God would make Abraham the father of a great nation if Abraham promised that he and all his male sons would needlessly butcher their foreskins as a reminder of the covenant.

The rite of the bris is followed by both Jews and Muslims as a religious ritual.

Many Christian cultures inexplicably decided to start mutilating their sons in the 19th Century. Hygiene was the alleged concern, though the historical record suggests that soap had been invented nearly 5,000 years earlier.

Even within the Jewish community there is controversy over how metzitzah b'peh should be performed. Some argue that the Talmud only states that blood be drawn away from the wound to prevent infection, with no requirement as to how this is done. Another school of thought, primarily in the Hasidic community, is that it must be performed orally.

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