Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Great Regulars: This point settled, the Talmud

goes on to offer specific recommendations for how to perform a circumcision. Once the foreskin is removed, the wound must be salved with cumin and bandaged. More problematic is the instruction that the mohel must suck the blood from the penis with his mouth. This is the warrant for the practice of metzitzah b'peh, "oral suction," which is still standard among some haredim. In recent years the practice has made headlines when it was discovered that some babies who underwent the procedure contracted herpes from the mohel.

from Adam Kirsch: Tablet: Birth Right


From Ptolemaic Egypt to early Christianity, from the Catholic Middle Ages to the Protestant Reformation, from the Enlightenment to fascism, whenever the West has wanted to define everything it is not--when it wants to put a name to its deepest fears and aversions--Judaism has been the name that came most easily to hand. "Anti-Judaism," [David] Nirenberg summarizes, "should not be understood as some archaic or irrational closet in the vast edifices of Western thought. It was rather one of the basic tools with which that edifice was constructed."

from Adam Kirsch: Tablet: A World Without Jews


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