16 June 2011

Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz on the anti-circumcision movement

Propaganda against circumcision is neither new nor altruistic. Its periodic manifestations seem to stem from the psychological issues of its disseminators. The ancient Greeks and Romans considered circumcision to be un-aesthetic. In the Roman Empire, circumcision (except for Jews) was a capital crime. Whatever their reasons, they at least did not purport to disapprove on bogus medical or moral grounds.
In particular, the idea that circumcision can be compared on any level to the genital mutilation of women is simply delusional. Meanwhile, circumcision’s benefits include reducing the risk of HIV infection by about 60%.
Likewise, the notion that parents do not have any right over “someone else’s body” is obviously not correct. Parental authority is well established, from piercing toddlers’ ears, to deciding whether children will be born at all.
   On the other hand, the religious importance of circumcision for Muslims and Jews is very great. Jews consider circumcision to be “the covenant of the flesh,” a very important religious and mystical tie of the people with the Lord.