Sunday, October 25, 2015

Lech Lecha; Milah & Periah- What are they? & How should they be done?

 Caution - some might find the video too graphic. A number of years ago a friend of mine was teaching mila in a yeshiva for baalei teshuva (i.e., they all had college backgrounds). One day the rosh yeshiva came to him and told him he had gotten complaints about his teaching because of number of the students complained about it being too graphic. When he asked what exactly was the problem since this was a class about mila - the rosh yeshiva said "You use the word penis".

 by Rabbi Shlomo Pollak

The Subject is...

"To perform the Mitzvah of Milah, we have to do two parts, Milah & Periah (מילה ופריעה).

What is Milah? and what is Periah?  How should it be done?...

For generations,  the two were done in two separate steps...

A number of years ago, a new method  was introduced, whereby both the Milah and Periah are done simultaneously.."

1 comment :

  1. First, thank you for posting this video, and thank you Rabbi Pollak for your lucid explanation of this subject. I'm responding to your comment, "maybe they could have gotten hold of a hemostat or something like that." That's an interesting speculation. It looks as though the answer would be "maybe." Here's a capsule history of the instrument from Wikipedia:

    "The concept of clamping a bleeding vessel with an instrument before tying it off is generally attributed to Galen (second century AD). This method of hemostasis was largely forgotten until it was rediscovered by the French barber-surgeon Ambroise Paré in the 16th century. He made the predecessor to the modern hemostat and called it the Bec de Corbin (crow's beak). With it he could clamp a bleeding vessel before securing it with a ligature.

    The modern hemostat is credited to several persons, the foremost of which is Jules-Émile Péan [1830-1898]."

    In addition to possible functions of the Ohr ha Priyah itself, there's another consideration that for purely health reasons would probably have made zeh achar zeh superior until very (from a Jewish historical perspective) recent technological and cultural advances:
    Until modern times, a Be de Corbin or similar instrument, being complex, produced one at a time from fine steel, and requiring much finer craftsmanship than more common tools, would have been hard to obtain. For that reason, many mohalim wouldn't have had the possibility of adopting a method other than zeh achar zeh. Meanwhile, the only instruments a mohel using the traditional method would need would have much simpler to come by than a hemostat, not to mention being easier to care for.

    If I understand correctly, one of the innovative features of the modern hemostat is that it locks closed, meaning that the user does not need to forcefully squeeze the handles together while simultaneously attempting delicate movements with the instrument. This is important, since the ohr hapriya is crushed by the hemostat: crush injuries are significant foci for infection, more than in the case of a free bleeding incision or laceration.

    Not only that, but the jaws of a hemostat are generally grooved transversely to prevent slipping. Such construction tends to retain bits of crushed tissue and blood in the grooves unless cleaned meticulously (and ideally sterilized.) Given the sanitary practices of the day, contamination of the instrument, and therefore of the crushed Ohr haPriyah with putrefying traces of previous milas that had not been removed from the steel would have been a real possibility.

    With that in mind, suppose a mohel using such an instrument inserted it, gripped the Ohr haPriyah, crushing it to get a good hold... and then slipped a little. Just a little. The subsequent cut might leave a little crushed tissue behind at the edge of the wound. At that point, if debris from the instrument then contaminated that crushed tissue, there would have been a real infection risk.

    In other words, the b'vas achas method might have been more prone to infection than the traditional practice until mass produced instruments and sterile technique took hold.


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