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Thursday, March 31, 2011

Berit Mila - Comparing Religions

Our Perasha states:

וּבַיּוֹם, הַשְּׁמִינִי, יִמּוֹל, בְּשַׂר עָרְלָתוֹ
And in the eighth day the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised.

In Judaism, Mila is obligatory and one who purposely neglects to circumcize himself gets Karet as it says here.  Peri'a is also required.  There are no exceptions - even one whose 2 brothers died due to Mila must get a Berit Mila even if he has to wait until he gets stronger to get it.

Our cousins have a different view.  From the BBC:
Muslims are still the largest single religious group to circumcise boys. In Islam circumcision is also known as tahara, meaning purification.

Circumcision is not mentioned in the Qur'an but it is highlighted in the Sunnah (the Prophet Muhammad's recorded words and actions). In the Sunnah, Muhammad stated that circumcision was a "law for men and a preservation of honour for women."

The main reason given for the ritual is cleanliness. It is essential that every Muslim washes before praying. It is important that no urine is left on the body.

Muslims believe the removal of the foreksin makes it easier to keep the penis clean because urine can't get trapped there.

Supporters of circumcision also argue that excrements may collect under the foreskin which may lead to fatal diseases such as cancer.

Some Muslims see circumcision as a preventive measure against infection and diseases.


For the majority of Muslims, circumcision is seen as an introduction to the Islamic faith and a sign of belonging.

In Islam there is no fixed age for circumcision. The age at which it is performed varies depending on family, region and country.

The preferred age is often seven although some Muslims are circumcised as early as the seventh day after birth and as late as puberty.

There is no equivalent of a Jewish 'mohel' in Islam. Circumcisions are usually carried out in a clinic or hospital. The circumciser is not required to be a Muslim but he must be medically trained.

In some Islamic countries circumcision is performed after Muslim boys have recited the whole of the Qur'an from start to finish.
Sorry, I have to interrupt - what a great incentive for boys to learn the Qur'an! Learn the entire Qur'an, you get a circumcision! What a deal!

Another point - it's good that the Jews don't have this requirement - if Jewish 8-day olds would recite the entire Torah before the Berit, I think that would scare most Mohelim out of the room, wouldn't you?

Sorry - back to the quote:
In Malaysia, for example, the operation is a puberty rite that separates the boy from childhood and introduces him to adulthood.

An essential practice

Circumcision is not compulsory in Islam but it is an important ritual aimed at improving cleanliness. It is strongly encouraged but not enforced.

The ritual dates back to the time of the Prophet Muhammad. According to tradition Muhammad was born without a foreskin (aposthetic). Some Muslims who practise circumcision see it as a way of being like him.

Circumcision was also practised by past prophets.

Dr Bashir Quereshi, author of Transcultural Medicine, explains: "Every Muslim is expected to follow the way and the life of the Prophet Muhammad. Therefore, all Muslims - devouts, liberals or seculars - observe this ritual. Muslim are obliged to follow not only Allah's message in the Holy Qur'an but also what the Prophet said or did, as proof of their dedication to Islam.

Traditionally, adult converts to Islam were encouraged to undergo the operation but this practice is not universally endorsed, particularly if the procedure poses a health risk.
I was surprised not to find a reference to Yishmael here, although maybe that's what was meant by "past prophets". Bottom line, it's clearly not nearly the obligation it is in Judaism.

The famous Zohar Va'era 32a considers their circumcision incomplete and therefore Hashem doesn't allow them to get close to Him, but allowed them access to the Land of Israel temporarily as a consolation prize:
רא) ות״ח, ארבע מאה שנין, קיימא ההוא ממנא דבני ישמעאל, ובעא קמי קב״ה, א״ל, מאן דאתגזר אית ליה חולקא בשמך. א״ל אין. א״ל והא ישמעאל דאתגזר, אמאי לית ליה חולקא בך כמו יצתק. א״ל, דא אתגזר כדקא יאות וכתיקונוי, ודא לאו הכי. ולא עוד, אלא דאלין מתדבקין בי כדקא יאות, לתמניא יומין, ואלין רחיקין מני עד כמה ימים. א״ל, ועם כל דא, כיון דאתגזר לא יהא ליה אגר טב בגיניה.

רב) ווי על ההוא זמנא, דאתיליד ישמעאל בעלמא, ואתגזר. מה עבד קב״ה, ארחיק להו לבני ישמעאל, מדבקותא דלעילא, ויהב להו חולקא לתתא בארעא קדישא, בגין ההוא גזירו דבהון.

רג) וזמינין בני ישמעאל, למשלט בארעא קדישא, כד איהי ריקניא מכלא, זמנא סגי, כמה דגזירו דלהון בריקניא בלא שלימו. ואינון יעכבון להון לבני ישראל אתבא לדוכתייהו, עד דאשתלים ההוא זכותא דבני ישמעאל.
Continue reading the Zohar to find out what happens to them after their Zechut is up.


At Thu Mar 31, 11:21:00 PM 2011, Blogger גילוי said...

You reminded me of these:

At Fri Apr 01, 08:28:00 AM 2011, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Reminded me of those as well...all the math confuses me though...are you saying basically that Moshiach isn't coming for another 15 years?

At Sat Apr 02, 04:18:00 AM 2011, Anonymous Anonymous said...

blessings. please , could you continue giving the translation. on the zohar. its important. please.

At Sun Apr 03, 03:26:00 AM 2011, Blogger yaak said...

See here


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