Thursday, March 8, 2012

Update: Baby’s Death Renews Debate Over a Circumcision Ritual

Prosecutors are investigating the death of a newborn boy who died in September after contracting herpes through a controversial practice of ritual circumcision, reviving a debate in New York over safety and religious freedom. 

The Brooklyn district attorney, Charles J. Hynes, confirmed on Wednesday that the investigation was continuing, but declined to comment further. 

The cause of death of the 2-week-old boy, who died at Maimonides Hospital in Brooklyn on Sept. 28, was Type 1 herpes, caused by “ritual circumcision with oral suction,” according to the medical examiner’s office.[...]


  1. There's a story in the Gemara about a man who was bentching and got to "U'vnei Yerushalayim" and was so overcome by grief that he plunged the bread knife into his heart killing himself. And because of that we don't keep bread knives on the table during a meal except for Shabbos.
    But here we have repeated incidents of a fatal infectious disease attacking defenseless babies most likely due to a procedure that can be done just as legitimately in a safe fashion and what is the response? "Nothing to see here folks, don't know what you're talking about."
    This is where Orthodoxy went off the rails.

  2. I see this as ritual murder.

    1. Recipients and PublicityMarch 9, 2012 at 9:34 AM

      "betzalel said...I see this as ritual murder."

      And you are crazy!

      First of all mistakes happen and not everything can be "planned" for, but life and Torah and Mitzva observance goes on!

      Just think how idiotic guys like NYC Mayor Bloomberg are being! Would they shut down the entire medical field on the grounds that it's a proven fact that patients die at the hands of modern doctors in huge numbers. Not to mention how many people died at the hands of doctors in past centuries before they knew about germs and microbes!

      There was an article recently that up to 20%, yes that TWENTY percent, of ALL deaths in modern USA hospitals are DIRECT results of doctors and medical personal mistakes and malpractices.

      That's why basically all doctors in the USA pay over $100,000 in malpractice insurance to cover for them if they kill or maim or mistreat patients and often-times they lose in court and even lose their licenses!

      But NO sane person says that surgery must be stopped and medications not given by doctors just because there is good PROBABILITY that up to 20% of patients will be killed by the doctors.

      Likewise with bris mila. It is very much a Halachic surgical procedure and yes there is risk involved not just from metzitza but from general infection, but if done correctly, as it's been done from the time of Avraham over 3,500 years ago, there is only the tiniest of teeniest chance that the baby will be harmed to the point where the chances are ALMOST nil, and sometimes by the way, it works the other way around, that the mohel runs the risk of contracting herpes from an infected baby. It's also happened but it's very rare.

      The rate of success of mohalim is NOT tarnished by the modern secular profession's rate of FAILURE when it comes to patient survival rates.

      Maybe a more positive and saner approach would be treat genuine mohalim with reliable kaballas (their certificates from their master teachers) as religious professionals they should be allowed to take out insurance if they make mistakes just as secular doctors do to cover their fatal errors, and if need be, let a failed mohel be brought to bais din and forced to pay damages to the parents of the baby, but to preach against bris mila because unintended mistakes can and will happen is just as stupid and crazy as saying that keeping Shabbos is too hard because it causes financial ruin or that matza should be banned because it causes constipation.

    2. Amalek would be proud of those who support metzitzah b'peh.

    3. Recipients and PublicityMarch 11, 2012 at 7:16 AM

      "betzalel...Amalek would be proud of those who support metzitzah b'peh."

      More craziness from you!

    4. Recipients and Publicity,

      This is the 21st century. We know about germs. It's quite obvious that metzitzah b'peh is a great way to spread germs. Germs can kill. Therefore, if we don't want to kill anyone, mohelim shouldn't be allowed to perform metzitzah b'peh.

      The fact that metzitza b'peh is a tradition in some Jewish communities is irrelevant. The commandment "Do not murder" clearly takes priority over this tradition. This is halacha.

  3. Three practical ways to minimize risks of infection through metzizah be peh:

    1. Use a tube. Many poskim say that this qualifies as metzizah be peh. This was the minhag in Germany, and there is a well-known family of mohalim (one of whom was mal my first born son) who do this regularly.

    2. Have the father of the baby do it.

    3. Institute regular testing for mohalim.


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