I was reading a Jewish Magazine’s blog and they reported that the city of San Francisco is discussing outlawing Circumcision on any male under the age of 18, which would seriously interfere with the commandment to Jewish people to circumcise their sons on the eighth day following their birth. Jews have had to face restrictive laws like this before, in the Soviet Union and under the Nazis. It’s just surprising that one would find such restrictions in liberal San Francisco.
After reading the article and comments, I threw my two cents in and voiced my opinion and was surprised to see the kinds of responses from other readers. Apparently there is a sizable minority of men against circumcision and want to make it illegal. Their arguments were full of venom, misstatements and bogus non-facts. They even attacked Jewish ritual circumcision, calling it barbaric mutilation. I soon had the feeling I was in the midst of a propaganda blitz. They even said circumcision passages in the scriptures were added later and were never part of the Abrahamic covenant. When I asked for documentation, they quoted the documentary hypothesis by Wellhausen; the foundation of classical, liberal Protestantism; a theological construction long proven dubious, and hardly the basis of Jewish practice, but it suited the purposes of the foreskin lobby.
The critical issue for me is Jewish circumcision. It is the first and foremost covenantal sign between God and the Jewish people. So important is circumcision, that no where in Scripture is there such a thing as an uncircumcised Jew. The wife of Moses did not want her sons circumcised but God almost killed Moses for not circumcising his sons. In Bereshit, we are told that when the servant of Abraham made a vow, Abraham told him to put his hand under his thigh as he swore, i.e., on his circumcision mark, because it was the sign of the covenant, and the only thing at the time that was holy, as there were no written scriptures he could put his hand to. When the Jewish people entered the Land after the Exodus, all men had to be circumcised before entering the Land. Uncircumcised men were forbidden to eat the Passover meal. Yeshua was circumcised as were all the Apostles, and even Paul circumcised Timothy. From a purely biblical standpoint, circumcision is not an option, it’s a prerequisite for being a Jewish male.
When the Soviet Union fell, many Jewish men, long forbidden to be circumcised arranged to have the covenant surgery. For them, it was part of what it means to be a Jew. I have known some Jewish men who were not circumcised, the children of Holocaust survivors. Their parents didn’t want them to be physically identified as Jews. Later, as adults, they elected to have the surgery done, to complete their sense of Jewish identity. They were angry with their parents for not doing it for them when they were infants.
If other people don’t want their children circumcised, it’s not a problem. Banning Jewish circumcision on infants violates the separation of Church and State, which people are quick to quote when they don’t want religion to weigh in on social and moral issues, but conveniently forget when they want to impose their opinions on a four thousand-year old religion. The real irony is that the same people who are pretending to protect the infant from pain and unnecessary surgery, citing the rights of the child, are the same people who would be happy to snuff out their lives in abortion. Why aren’t they standing up for the rights of the children being aborted? The reason is that this is really not about those rights. It’s another attack on Jewish practice.
The bottom line is that no law imposed by the city of San Francisco will keep Jews from Circumcising their sons. In the time of the Maccabees, the Syrians outlawed circumcision. Jews did it anyway, and they overthrew the Syrians and took back the Temple. That’s why we celebrate Chanukah. San Francisco can enact their laws, and who knows… it might yet fall into the sea.