Ein Blog über Religion und Politik

Der Sinn der Beschneidung

Von 17. Juli 2012 um 13:29 Uhr

Bernard Avishai von der Hebrew University erklärt auf der Website “Open Zion” den Sinn der Beschneidung:

Most thinking Jews, justifiably, will counter all this physiological speculation (and hyperbole) by insisting that circumcision is not a practical matter at all. Rather, it is a primordial act of covenant, a kind of throwback to sacrifice, actually, which marks the commitment of our children to the Jewish people and its mission. But this begs the question, precisely, of how to understand the covenantal mission and how to engender it. The same Jews believe that the mission unfolds as life and history unfold. Our commitment is to inherited principles, not to inherited genes. The act has to be consistent with, or evoke, enduring principles. What are they?

So we are left with a puzzle. What deeper meaning might be implied by circumcision, so that Jewish parents, generation after generation, swallow hard do it? How does the back of the mind take in the brit mila, so that Jewish sages thought its lessons were indispensible?

Permit a passionate father (and grandfather) to suggest a direction, if not a whole answer. The poet Robert Bly once said, “A man’s wound is his genius.” I think parents who perform circumcision on a tender baby cannot but feel the beginning of an acknowledgement, which will grow over time—something bitter-sweet and wise. It is that our role is not merely to protect our children but to expose them. We are required to introduce them—affectionately, yet at times strictly—to the stings of the world, which are everywhere; these are the real prompts of maturity and autonomy—thus the deepest sources of their happiness. This ritual infliction of pain, like the insistence of broken glass at a wedding, is an act of love, arguably divine love—that is, love of human beings as we truly are, without (dare I say, childish?) illusions.

You don’t have to have a mother like Sophie Portnoy to know that over-protection is the ultimate form of child abuse. Who among us would live our lives over again without the pains that instructed, fashioned and liberated us?

And since this was a German court, however secular, let’s cover another base. Saint Paul said that we ought rather to circumcise the heart. (Actually, Leviticus, and later Jeremiah, suggest the same, arguably without the “rather.”) Well, I have had both circumcisions, of the flesh and heart, and I can report that the latter is far more painful. Human life is calculated to make us lose every person we love, but who lives happier by shielding himself from love?

The part of Paul’s theology I admire most suggests that the divine proved truest by becoming flesh to suffer with us, thus to truly know us. I like to think the divine was first present in my life at the tiny suffering of my circumcised flesh; that God slyly instructed Abraham to circumcise his sons because he wanted to imply what some rabbis have had the wit to add, generation after generation. Before circumcision a man is not whole. Genesis Rabbah states, glossing circumcision: “All that was created during the six days of creation requires improvement. For example, the mustard seed needs to be sweetened and the lupine need to be sweetened, the wheat needs to be ground, and even a person needs improvement.” Indeed, there is nothing so whole as a broken heart.

Kategorien: Debatte
Leser-Kommentare
  1. 1.

    “parents who perform circumcision on a tender baby cannot but feel the beginning of an acknowledgement, which will grow over time—something bitter-sweet and wise.”

    (…) gelöscht, JL

  2. 2.

    (…) gelöscht, JL

  3. 3.

    Lieber Herr Holm, ich lösche das. Meistens versteht man nicht, was Sie meinen. Und wenn man es dann mal versteht, ist man entsetzt. Juden nach Israel? Holm in den Papierkorb. Tschüss.

    • 17. Juli 2012 um 14:04 Uhr
    • Jörg Lau
  4. 4.

    @ TH

    Damit sind Sie dann auf dem prä-WWII-Stand der Aufklärung angekommen:

    Juden dürfen hier als Individuen gleichberechtigt sein, wenn sie aufhören Juden zu sein.

    Wie Sie wissen, hat dieser Ansatz nicht funktioniert.

    • 17. Juli 2012 um 14:08 Uhr
    • Serious Black
  5. 5.

    @ TH Nachtrag

    Sie stellen sich in schlechte Tradition:
    Schon die frühen europäischen Antisemiten sagten: “Juden nach Palästina!”

    • 17. Juli 2012 um 14:11 Uhr
    • Serious Black
  6. 6.

    This ritual infliction of pain, like the insistence of broken glass at a wedding, is an act of love, arguably divine love—that is, love of human beings as we truly are, without (dare I say, childish?) illusions

    Lieber Herr Lau,

    Do you honestly think this is a good argument in favour of circumcision? Parents’ right to ritually inflict pain on their babies? Out of love? Honest to God, it get’s worse by the day, not better.

    Arguably divine love. I can’t believe I’m reading this.

    Overprotection is the ultimate form of child abuse. And the ritual infliction of pain the ultimate form of child protection? (Nach dem Motto: This hurts me more than it hurts you.”?)

    • 17. Juli 2012 um 14:31 Uhr
    • Miriam G.
  7. 7.

    “Before circumcision a man is not whole.”

    Ähnlich Pathetisches gelingt mir auch manchmal. Deswegen lass’ ich mich davon auch nicht einlullen!

    Als Antwort hier ein Kommentar von der oben verlinkten Seite:

    “When I decided not to circumcise my son, my father said “I never asked you for anything – but now I asked you do circumcise him”.

    I refused.

    My son’s penis is his own property. Furthermore, it is obvious to me that the same ‘bris’ can be used to welcome the newborn into the extended family – without cutting anything.

    That is what I did and guess what? my father, orthodox sister and everyone else ended up just fine with everything. People will do ANYTHING to avoid the pain of mentally changing their position – including continuing a violent habit which is not intrinsic in any way even their purported religion.

    The German court is to be praised, but of course it will be mercilessly attacked for being anti-semite.”

  8. 8.

    @Jörg Lau:

    Die Fallhöhe dieser Hautlappenenfernung ist dem Umfang und der Intensität der über sie geführten Debatte diametral entgegengesetzt. Weshalb ich nicht verstehe, warum Sie noch einmal nachlegen. Alle Moslemhasser, Antisemiten und generell Kleingeister Deutschlands benutzen diese Kleinzipfel, um sich selber ihrer Liberalität und Grundgesetztreue zu versichern, das war schon seit Beginn der Debatte klar.

    Gruss,
    Thorsten Haupts

    • 17. Juli 2012 um 14:54 Uhr
    • ThorHa
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