Friday, January 06, 2006

Metzitzah Madness

The New York Times, today, fronts another story about metzitzah b'peh. Hasidic leaders (mostly, it seems, from Williamsburg) are upset that the mayor has permitted the city's Health Department to open a "public health campaign" against the rite. Metzitzah b'peh has not been banned, and their appear to be no plans to do so.

Without meaning to disrespect the perogatives of the mayor or the hasidim, allow me to say that I think they are both nuts.

First the hasidim: Their ritual hasn't been outlawed by the city; moreover everything I have read (start with the always level-headed Hirhurim) suggests that there is room for leniancy, that metzitzah b'peh is not essential to milah, especially when it is plausibaly linked to sick infants. So why the commotion? Your Thomas Jefferson-given-right to suck blood out of circumscision wounds is not endangered. Use your political clout for a real crisis, please.

As for the mayor, he is famous for a city-wide ban on smoking in public establishments. How is it that he will prohibit adults from smoking, but isn't willing to protect infants from herpes?

[Related: Orthomom makes the same point in reference to a Times article that appeared yesterday]