Williamsburg – War On Metzitzah B’Peh Starting Again


    New York City’s Health Department decision to launch a public-information campaign warning people that the circumcision practice of Metzizah B’Peh – at a bris of a newborn boy in the jewish community – is dangerous, has lead to the Chasidic communities affected by this to be very upset.

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    Williamsburg Rabbi Moshe David Niederman, speaking for the Central Rabbinical Congress, put out a largely conciliatory statement that ends on this note:
    “We have serious concerns about the Health Department’s insistence on advising mothers of newborn boys concerning a religious practice. We believe that continuing the religious practice of metzitzah b’peh is highly safe. We will work with expectant mothers and fathers in our community to urge them to consult with their rabbis as they approach the blessed event of celebrating a bris for a newborn boy.”
    This doesn’t quite seem over.

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    18 years ago

    Just a small addition.

    according to the health dep. Most people have antibodies, how come there are only so little cases?

    According to my humble opinion this throws a wrench into the whole claim.

    18 years ago

    Would you please be so kind and elaborate Your observation, to make sure I understand your point?

    ליפא שנילצער
    ליפא שנילצער
    18 years ago

    thanks “myhumbleopinion” for giving your extensive humble opinion, with out going into the halachic point of view of this issue simply because i am not qualified, i will just add some facts to this story from(yeshivaorthodoxy)

    There was some kind of an urgent last minute meeting that was called this morning regarding the sacred issue of Metzitzah B’peh. The meeting took place at R’ Aharon Schecter Shlita’s house (Rosh Yeshivas Chaim Berlin).

    In attendance were:

    R’ Aharon Schecter (Rosh Yeshivas Chaim Berlin)
    R’ Dovid Feinstein (Posek & Rosh Yeshiva of MTJ)
    R’ Hillel David (Posek)
    R’ Feivel Cohen (Posek & Chairman of meeting)
    Novaminsker Rebbe (No further needs to be said)
    Bobover Dayan
    Pupa Rov
    R’ Zalmen Leib Tietelbaum (Rov of Satmar “Willy Division”)
    Kashau Rov
    Tzeilima Rov
    Viener Rov
    Krasner Rov
    Freimena Rov

    one minor observation here is that the “ISSUE” is strictly halachic and not whether or not crc can keep deadlines or what nyc protocols and procedures are, so that should take away number one

    will continue reading.

    18 years ago

    Without going into to much detail because of the sensitivity involved in the issue I would like to put in my two cents.

    The health department issued a notice to all parents regarding metzitzah b’peh in which it stats that “without a doubt” metzitzah b’peh caused herpes virus in several infants.

    First of all, to all nay Sayers who think we’re back to square one regarding the city and metzitzah b’peh should be reminded wear we stood on the day that the city gave the “tro”.

    At that time the city has band a certain mohal from performing metzitzah b’peh and only after intensive efforts by the community rabbis and liaison’s the mayor made sure that the “tro” should be removed and left the responsibility in the hand of the “crc” rabbinical authority to determine whether the mohal should be allowed to resume his practice or not.

    Now as it stands today the city did not ban the practice not only other mohalim but also the above mohal and left the rabbinical authority in charge. And all the efforts by the community rabbis paid off that the “tro” has not been issued again.

    Now to the issues

    Number one:

    What happened was that the “crc” was supposed to come out with their findings not later than Dec. 1, which was the deadline offered by the city, the fact is that they failed to meet the deadline.

    Now according to rabbi David Niederman quoted in the Jewish week the story went like this:

    ”We have set the date, and it might be a little bit later, However I believe that the lines of communication are open, so it’s only a phone call to ask … when would the report be issued?. We did not break down the agreement.”

    Dr. Thomas Frieden doesn’t deny the fact that the “crc” wasn’t the one that broke the agreement he’s quoted in the above newspaper saying the fallowing:

    ”They’ve since(meaning since the agreement on a Dec.1 deadline) communicated to us that it’s a complicated situation and they’re not sure when they can come back, So rather than let that continue indefinitely, we felt it was important to make clear to the public our own conclusion and position.”

    Knowing the above facts its understandable why rabbi Niederman was quote “shocked” when seeing the letter from the commissioner.

    My humble opinion is that it’s unfair from the commissioner’s side not to try in the best of his ability to have a normal correspondent between his office and the “crc” knowing farewell that it’s a complicated situation, which would have prevented this new brawl.

    Number two:

    The Jewish week quotes rabbi Niederman farther:

    ”We are convinced that it’s not dangerous had it been dangerous we would not be performing it”

    This really goes to the hart of the issue. their are more than a few things practicing Jews do and quite a few precautions practicing Jews take concerning all things including health, one of them concerning circumcision is thrush -often found in infants- according to the health dep. This is not a concern as far as performing circumcisions, yet Jews don’t perform circumcisions if this fungus is found. their are much more exemplas but as the expression goes “the paper will finish and they won’t” by trying to Wright them all so I just gave one example.

    Furthermore The torah doesn’t tell anyone to do anything that can be hazarders to the health in any way, In contrary the torah says concerning the things a Jew has to do “voci bohem” which means “you should live by them” and our sages say “you should live by them” meaning “and not die by them” from which Jews in all times knew that the torah doesn’t give any low that can harm one in any way for ensample when starving to death in concentration camps ect. Jews always knew that all laws concerning kosher are invalid in order to survive so far as surviving was really involved.

    Which brings us to this very imported point their is no evidence -at least that has been shared with the rabbinical authority -that has proven that metzitzah b’peh can be causing herpes virus if such evidence was given the rabbinical authority would be the first ones to stop the practice.

    Number three:

    As far as some rabbis that say that metzitzah b’peh is not important and can be performed in other ways falls right into the big picture of reform in Judaism and as far as orthodox Judaism is concerned no aspect may it as small as they get cannot be changed from what is being practiced by Jews in privies generations no mater what and as the world renowned “chasam sofer” famously said and is being quoted numerous times by almost every rabbi and leader that fallowed his times “chadosh osur min hatorah” meaning anything new is forbidden by the torah.

    Number four:

    Again quoting rabbi Niederman:

    “There have been seven cases, allegedly over a span of 15 years, In Williamsburg alone we have close to 57,000 people. The overwhelming majority is very young, so you’re talking about 120,000 brises of metzitzah b’peh. You tell me, is it safer to give a flu shot or to do metzitzah b’peh?”

    No comments are needed on this.

    ליפא שנילצער
    ליפא שנילצער
    18 years ago

    they have posted the warning on the New York City official Government web-site