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Who needs life when there's a wound - to dig in the wound, move around the wound, caress the wound, meet other people's wounds, compare wounds, enjoy the wound, smoke with the wound, drink with the wound, tell jokes to the wound.


Say wound, wound, wound, and feel how it becomes its own thing, with a first name and second name. You're not alone anymore.














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A Good Scar

A person's thoughts are his image; thoughts are ways to examine alternatives and decide between them. Neta Ahituv's report on circumcision is important and interesting, but lacks any thought, because it only presents one viewpoint - it doesn't for once try to present the opposite viewpoint.

Eran Sadeh realised "he couldn't do it to his son". "Do it" assumes that "it" is a bad thing. The failure here is assuming what is requested: I, for once, think that when I circumcised my sons I did them good. A survey conducted by the Israeli parenting portal had shown that 2 percent of parents who didn't circumcised their sons did it so as not to compromise the completeness of the human body. This assumes that completeness is a positive value. I think that completeness is a dangerous negative value - it leads to hubris and totalitarianism. How good was my father to me when he'd gave me as a body that wasn't complete - allowing me to acknowledge my being incomplete, my limits.

That same survey found that more than one percent of parents didn't go through circumcision because it was going to hurt their baby. This assumes that hurting a child is bad. I come from a school of thought where "He that spareth his rod hateth his son". Pain is one of the expressions of love. A child not being hurt by his parents will become a child that knows no boundaries.

Dr. Hanoch Ben Yami published an article called "The Victim of Circumcision". "Victim" (but also that which is sacrificed, sacrificial lambs) has negative connotations in Israel. "Holocaust victims" are those others who went like sheep to the slaughter, unlike us, Israelis, who'd never become victims. But in Judaism, "victim/sacrificial lamb" [korban] is strongly linked to closeness [kirva]. I sacrificed my son during circumcision for the love of God, and the love of my son. And so says the Zohar (Part A, 93 71): "Blessed are the people of Israel who willingly make sacrifices to God by sacrificing their sons for eight days".

Another claim against circumcision is that it's a road of no return. I actually find that this is the main argument for circumcision. My parenthood is expressed in that I give my son a fixed, clear and irreversible identify. Even if in the future he should with to rebel, he'd have to make an effort, and even then won't be able to erase the identity he rebelled against. I think this is a great identity gift.

Should you replace the mohel (religious circumciser) with a doctor? No. A doctor may perform the external deed, but cannot bring with him the spiritual and liturgical deposits as well as the deep secrets which the mohel brings to this ritual. Should the child be anaesthesized? No. Dr. Shinhar says: "When people can't decide whether to have their baby anaesthesized, I tell them to go for non-anaesthesized circumcision only if they themselves agree to having a tooth extracted without anaesthesia". Well, I approve of my father's decision not to anaesthesize me during my circumcision. Due to that approval, I have the moral right to circumcise my son without anaesthesia.

Why would I do that to him? See Gideon Ofrat's book "The Jewish Derrida". Circumcision is an identity-establishing wound. By afflicting my son with the Jewish wound I give him an identity. Ayelet, who with her partner Aharon decided not to circumcise their son, says: "My main feeling was that I give my child the option to decide for himself. It's his body, and I didn't want to do things to that body which he couldn't unwind."

Dear Ayelet, the Hebrew word for Circumcision, Mila, has two meanings: Brit Mila (circumcision), and Mila (word). When you talk to your son, you give him a mother tongue. That's a brutal thing to do, since you're deciding for him what his mother tongue should be. But by doing that you give him an identity, and that's a supreme act of love. Sadeh, having been circumcised, says sadly: "My parents placed a scar on my penis". A scar is an important thing. A scar creates an identity. Due to his scar, the old woman recognised Odysseus, allowing him to return home. There are many arguments against circumcision; and others for it. I decided for it.


Dr. Moshe Meir

Research Fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute