Metzitzah B’Peh: Only The Beginning

UPDATE: New CDC Data May Not Show Risk Due To Metzitzah B’peh

Original Post:

Nanny Bloomberg and his wet nurses are very concerned with what people are putting in their mouths these days. After banning large soda beverages, they now turn their attention to another threat to society, Metzitzah B”Peh:

New York City Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley today issued a statement strongly urging that direct oral-genital suction not be performed during Jewish ritual circumcision, and announced that several hospitals, including those serving Hasidic Jewish communities and all Health and Hospital Corporation hospitals, have agreed to distribute a brochure that describes the risk of contracting the herpes virus from this practice, known as metzitzah b’peh.

Note that Chief Wet-nurse Farley refrained from issuing a ban on Metzitzah B’peh, opting instead for a “strongly worded statement”. This may be due to an archaic law called the First Amendment, part of an ancient and infrequently invoked body of laws known as the Constitution. There is also the minor detail that the risk of danger to the baby (2 deaths out of over an estimated 100k MB”P) through MB”P is about the same as giving it Tylenol and much less than second-hand smoke, neither of which is banned.

However, this is just the beginning. A document has come to light, purportedly from the desk of Dr. Farley, featuring the next steps in the War on To Save Humanity From Themselves. Quoted in full below:

Memo: To The Mayor

From: Dr. Farley.

In accordance with your recent directive that we zero in on other potential hazardous materials and practices that may affect children, we have come up with the following:

Jewish Rituals To Be Banned:

Matzah (increased risk of gastrointestinal distress)

Cheesecake on Shavous (trampling danger due to intense pressure to get the best piece)

Prayers on the High Holidays will be cut by three hours (long prayers, especially by a professional Chazan, can lead to a 37% increase in risk of heart attack and stroke)

Lulav (paper cuts)

Sukkah (6.7 times more likely to collapse than regular house)

Chanukah Candlelighting (fire risk)

Purim Gragger (noise pollution, increased risk of senior citizen hitting children due to unauthorized cap gun discharges)

Chulent on Shabbos (increased Global Warming due to flatulence)

The following objects will no longer be permitted in houses with small children:

Small objects of any kind (choking hazard)

Food (choking hazard)

Bikes (children on bikes are 9 times more likely to fall off them than children on a couch)

Hot beverages (increased risk of burns)

Counters, chairs and tables (children on an elevated surface are 4.9 times likelier to fall than children sitting on the floor)

Toilets and bathtubs (risk of drowning)

Windows (risk of falling)

Cleaning agents of any kind (risk of poison)

Medicine (risk of poison)

All toys (choking hazard, lead exposure, mental distress due to sibling rivalry)

Parents may no longer do the following activities with their children:

Put them to sleep (SIDS)

Feed them (choking hazard)

Carry them (risk of falling)

Transport them in a motor vehicle (studies show that children in a motor vehicle are 8.9760 times more likely to be in a car crash then children at home)

Bathe them (drowning)

Have them (studies show that parents who have children are 2.4 times more likely to abuse them than parents who don’t)

The sheeple are more than willing to submit to the continued benevolence of our Mayor-for-Life and his do-gooders. We just have one request to add to the above list: No million dollar couches. 900,000? That’s fine. A Million? Too much. Deal? No?

Didn’t think so.


31 thoughts on “Metzitzah B’Peh: Only The Beginning

  1. Choose your fights carefully. Metzizah b’peh done directly (as opposed to through a pipette) is not a requisite of circumcision and turning into a principle of the faith and then imagining other atrocities against us loses you any credibility.
    As the friend of a family whose child got herpes from the mohel and who were then threatened by the beis din they took the mohel to that if they pursued the matter they would be ostracized by the community I can tell you that if there is a 100% sterile way to do metzizah b’peh that allows the gemara’s requirements to be fulfilled and removes any threat of harm to the baby then it should be the only way permitted.
    Or think of it this way: if, over Pesach, I told you that the soup you were about to eat had a 0.5% chance that a tiny crumb of chometz had fallen into it, would you eat it? And here we are talking about infants’ lives. Once upon a time the halacha was that if you leave water uncovered overnight you couldn’t drink it because a snake might have taken a sip unnoticed and left some venom behind (which is anatomically impossible, by the way). Chazal were so concerned about danger to life they outlawed the water and you now want to defend a procedure that has an actual death rate attached to it?

    • “Choose your fights carefully. Metzizah b’peh done directly (as opposed to through a pipette) is not a requisite of circumcision”

      Absolutely wrong. Most Haredi Poskim DO consider it an absolute obligation. So the rest of your argument is irrelevant.

      BTW, then all Jews out of YESHA, no? Living there is much more dangerous than M”B.

      • No, the issue is not that simple. Most poskim who historically insisted on metzizah b’peh directly were doing so in an environment in which there was no danger. Herpes and other STD’s were unknown in the frum community until recently. Now that they are endemic would these poskim have come to the same conclusion considering that even though they prefer direct metzitzah many of them admit that using a tzinor is acceptable b’dieved?
        Your argument about Yesha is also irrelevant. God commanded us to conquer and settle the Land even though it was dangerous. We were commanded to conquer it by force of arms. Therefore danger living in Yesha adds to the mitzvah of settling the land.

        • Endemic? 2 out of 100k? Surely you jest. There was a Kol Korei issues after the HIV scare reafirming that M”B should be done nontheless.

          Conquering the land is a mitzvah that does not apply today. Yishuv E”Y? Maybe. conquering, no.

  2. Was the “Farley letter” to Bloomberg supposed to be funny? If so, whoever wrote it learned something from Satmar: banning bikes.

  3. I remember the chanuka lecht ban movement a year or two ago. the Left wanted to ban more than 1 candle as it was bad for the world carbon imprint, ozone layer yada yada yada.
    The Charedim noted that since buses are the number cause of carbon monoxide, better would be to lessen the bus services, say take a day off and walk once a week. like um Shabbat?
    Deal fell through, kept the buses and the lecht.

  4. Do you think there is a underlying connection between traditional Judaism and the preponderance of secular Jews in the Big-government / regulate everything / regulate peoples lives wing of the democratic party?

    I do

  5. Whoa – way to go on making a really cogent argument. Name calling and sarcasm. That really drives home your point intelligently.
    May I repeat what I’ve been repeating a thousand times already – THE CITY IS NOT BANNING MBP. Parents can and will make their own decisions, but they need to be informed decisions. When I made a bris, I didn’t even know what metztitza was, let alone MBP, and my mohel didn’t mention it to me, so I didn’t even know to ask. People need to be educated, and can and are able to make their own decisions.

    Have you even “learned thru this sugya”??? I’ve done a lot of research on this (gave a shiur about it quite recently) and will post my thoughts a little later. I’m not an expert in this area, but in the course of my preparation have bounced a lot of thoughts off of those who are.

    • Please read before you pounce. I explicitly mentioned that the city was NOT banning it. However, I it is nonetheless an attack on religious freedom.

      Yes, I am familiar with the sugya and most Haredi Poskim consider it a requirement.

      • The tone and intent of your post links “ban” and “advise/educate” tightly together. That’s inappropriate.
        Indeed, if the city did not ban MBP, then what exactly is your problem?

        “Most Haredi Poskim consider it a requirement”. Who? And on what basis? The best argument I’ve heard was that tube metzitza does not get the blood from the “mekomos harechokim”, which, a) has dubious medical benefit when weighed against the risk of HSV-1 transmission and b) simply isn’t true; a proper vacuum is created with a well-enough designed tube (aside from the kabbalistic reasons). The tube was developed in the late 19th century by a rav and three eminent German scientists, and received approbation from major poskim at the time because it was DESIGNED to accomplish the EXACT same thing that MBP set out to – this was the REAL fear of R’ Ettlinger in the mid 1800s and the Chasam Sofer in his famous teshuva in 1837. Read through the major teshuvos back then; Maharam Schick, R’ Ettlinger, etc, it’s not even clear if they were worried as much about MBP as they were about the banning or ridicule of metztitza itself! There are virtually no new written teshuvos on the subject; the debate today relies heavily on teshuvos from the 19th century, a time period somewhat irrelevant to ours.

        This whole debate is frightening. We will allow and accept chillul shabbos for hatzala under paper-thin (but quite valid) rationale, if matza does indeed pose a danger, its eating can be modified or done away with (if necessary), eating on Yom Kippur is allowed in the face of pikuach nefesh, etc etc etc. Almost none of the items or situations in your snarky pseudo-“letter” has any real danger, so I’m not sure what you’re trying to say there. While people defend vague “mesorah” and sink to the level of debating half-truths, misquote or half-quote out of context earlier texts and responsa, and whitewash or dismiss majority medical opinion with a wave of the hand, babies are DYING from what probably could have been easily prevented. I know about “DNA evidence”. I know about “miut”. I know about “shomer pesaim”. They have little to no relevance in this case.

        • Why do they have little relevance in this case? There are many things we do with our children that have no significant value and greater risk than M”B. Are you suggesting we stop them (see bike riding, for example).?

          You’re entitled to your opinion with regard to M”B. You are NOT entitled to tell Haredim what THEIR opinion is or should be. We beleive it to me a requirement, therefore the risk, which is unproven btw, can be justified.

          • I am not entitled, that is correct. That’s why the city’s current stance is the best of all worlds. People now know what MBP IS and its attendant risks (however small), and they can decide what they want to do. They can do research on the issue, should they choose (hey, that’s what the Internet is for). They can consult with a moreh hora’a. That’s why I don’t know what’s got your bonnet is in a twist. No one is banning anything right now. My main point is that the debate needs to be framed correctly today (especially with potential lives on the line), which it is not.

            I will not debate risk; I see this is futile. Relevance is debatable – if bike riding is dangerous, we MODIFY THE PRACTICE (helmets). If crossing the street is dangerous, WE MODIFY THE PRACTICE (crossing guards, look both ways, street lights). If matza eating is b’sakana, WE MODIFY THE PRACTICE if possible. One of the the problems here, I think, is that the main issue historically has been METZITZA, not necessarily MBP. No one important is advocating banning metzitza, as some pushed for in the mid 19th century. People need to draw a distinction between metzitza itself and MBP.

            Also see Dr. Sprecher’s response to Dr. Dan Berman in the Letters section of Hakira, vol 4, 2006. He says everything far better than I.


            • You still neglected mention who says MBP, not metzitza in general, is required and is part and parcel of the mitzva of milah, and provide rationale.


            • Bike riding, after all modifications is still dangerous (see the link in the OP). WOuld you suggest all bike shops put out brochures “explaining” the danger of bike riding.

              I know the sources but don’t have the time to translate etc. Am researching to find some english language material online.

              • No. Most parents would have the common sense to educate their children about the dangers of bike riding in general. But then again, “wet-nurse” gub’ment forces me to modify the practice of bike riding by making me wear a helmet.
                Common sense seems to go out the window somewhat when dealing w MBP though. The risks can be debated somewhat, but the rhetoric to me seems the equivalent of sticking one’s fingers in one’s ears and screaming “nyah nyah nyah I can’t hear you”.

                I don’t need translation on sources, just who said and when historically they said and in what sefer or written responsa they wrote that metzitza mentioned on Shabbos 133a-b in the Mishna and Gemara must be done b’peh (peh, not only METZITZA as a whole, being part and parcel of mitzvas mila – I am aware of the arguments as to whether M itself is a mitzva), and must be done with DIRECT oral suction (again, virtually me’akeiv).



                • And how is the risk unproven? How “proven” does it need to be in order to enter into the realm of safek pikuach nefesh? Did you read Dr. Dan Berman’s article in Dialogue? Did you read the Pediatrics article (Gesundheit, et al, available online)? Dr. Shlomo Sprecher’s (Hakira 2006 vol 3)? Dr. Mordechai Halperin’s (via Dr. Sprecher)? Dr. Gary Gelbfish’s (posted on Vos is Neias, I think)? Rabbi Alfred Cohen’s (RJJ Journal, 2000s, Google it).

  6. “I didn’t read all of them but the ones I did are the following:

    1) They’re saying the same things based on the same studies. 2) Again, 2 out of 100k at least, how is that a Great Risk??”

    1) Shouldn’t that tell you something?
    2) This is frightening. Think about what you are saying!!!! You’re willing to allow 2 infants to die to preserve something which is not required, nor possibly even given minhag status!! Besides, CDC and NYC reports take an EDUCATED guess that in MBP communities, the prevalence is higher.

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