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'Thou Shalt Not Circumcise'
Michel Hervé Navoiseau-Bertaux Salem-News.com
(PARIS, France) - John the Baptist and Jesus died for baptism by water against the trauma of the “original” punishment, intended to prevent the famous “sin”.
Queen Jezebel and King Achab, the Seleucids (many of whom have been slaughtered by the circumcising Machabees), Spinoza, Olry Terquem, Bernard Lazare, Freud, Bettelheim, Wald, Alice Miller, Tobie Nathan, Derrida also stood up against circumcision.
It is also noticeable that several of the great Books of the Bible: Numbers, Ruth, Lamentations, Esther, Ezra, Nehemiah, Job, Ecclesiastes, Proverbs, Psalms, Song of Solomon, and the great majority of the Books of the prophets: Kings, Malachi, Lamentations, Daniel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, do not mention the terms: "circumcised", "circumcise", "circumcision".
A very accomplished criticism came from German Reform rabbis in the 19th century. They based on socio-political and juridical motives (the criminal and segregationist custom is the deep cause of Judeophobia), and also on religion: (1) circumcision was ordered to Abraham, not to Moses, (2) the Book of Deuteronomy (Moses's book, and the Ten Commandments) does not order it, (3) Moses opposed that of his son (Exodus, 4: 24-26), (4) it was not practised as long as he was the Hebrew's chief (it was set back into practice in Gilgal, for men only, after his death – Joshua, 5: 2-9), (5) there is no (no longer) equivalent for girls. (cf. Encyclopaedia Judaica. Jerusalem: Keter publishing house limited; 1972. t. V, p. 571).
Prior to Moses, worshipers of the masculine phallus and contemptuous of the feminine equivalent, the Egyptians practised – they still do – upon children, the most terrible repression of infantile sexuality that can be imagined.
Spanking already chastises the back for the gentle caresses done in front, as illustrated by Ernst's painting: “The Virgin thrashing the Child Jesus” (Ludwig Museum, Köln), where the fallen halo hints at the cut off foreskin. But sexual mutilation adds up to it, castrating the human person from the specific organs of autosexuality (the clitoris and the foreskin).
It had been imposed on the Jews as a measure of enslavement and Moses the liberator could not tolerate it. Considering that these ablations make the phallus a fetish and that a “jealous” God cannot admit such idolatry, the Second Commandment exposes chapter 17 of the Book of Genesis. Similarly, after having killed the Egyptian murderer (Exodus, 2: 11-12), the son of Bedouins chooses nomadism, praised by present day Jewish writers, rather than the genocide of his Canaanite brothers.
This was fatal to him; according to Freud and a few Egyptologists, keeping his skin whole could not save it from the Levites.
Similarly qualifying circumcision “a barbarous and bleeding rite” (quoted by the Dictionnaire encyclopédique du judaïsme. Paris: Editions du cerf; 1993. p. 433), Rabbi Abraham Geiger and his mosaicist, democratic and feminist friends founded the first post-Renaissance Jewish movement refusing circumcision.
The community responded with an outcry orchestrated by Hirsh (a founder of Zionism). Though having perfectly understood Moses, the reformist could not believe their eyes of the falsification of one of the Ten Commandments. When the Orthodox rabbis attacked their arguments, most dissidents, after twenty years resistance, came back to circumcision. But the “heresy” had reached the United States where many practise non-mutilating nomination.
However that may be,
1 - through ruling out everything that is not included in it, the Book of the Deuteronomy bans circumcision:
“Observe everything I lay down for you, without adding anything to it...” (13: 1)
2 - abounding in our sense, Professor Thomas Römer, with tenure of the "Biblical environment" chair of the Collège de France (the highest French Academic institution), brought us the support of modern exegesis:
"..., you are right asserting that Gn 17 presents another vision of circumcision than Gn 15 or the Deuteronomy. The "lay" writers were seemingly less interested by this practice, and even opposed to it. The expression "circumcision of the heart" might even contain a polemic stand against "circumcision of the flesh."
3 - the Second Commandment in the book of the Exodus:
“You shall have no other God than I. You shall not make yourself idols, nor whatever image... for... I am a jealous God, who prosecute the crime of fathers upon children up to the third and fourth generations for those who offend me, and who extends my benevolence up to the thousandth for those who love me and keep my commandments.” (Exodus: 20: 4-6 – literally translated from the translation of the French Rabbinate. Paris: Les éditions Colbo; 1999), also forbids circumcision. But the rabbis do not interpret it in the light of verse 20: 22:
“If... you build a stone altar for me, do not build it with carved stones for by touching them with the iron, you made them lay.”, in which Moses seems to be condemning the fanatics who refuse the intact burial in cemeteries, or profane corpses in order to bury them "within the Alliance". They read it as if it said: “...who punish children for the crimes of fathers” but,
- 3.1 on the one hand, if the sentence had that meaning, it would also have that construction,
- 3.2 on the other hand, if “the crime of fathers” referred to criminality in general, the text would then either say “the crime of the father” or “the crimes of fathers”. “The crime of fathers” can only be the well-known crime perpetrated upon children: sexual mutilation,
- 3.3 and above all, giving the term "jealous" the immoderate meaning of "suspicious" till injustice, that interpretation punishes innocent children in an aberrant way. That sacrilegious amalgam projects into the Second Commandment a notion of collective responsibility that is only dear to far right paranoia. Professor Sami Aldeeb indicated us that Ezekiel (18: 1-20) objected to it:
"... the son will not bear the fault of the father..." (20), God can only be jealous of his creation; man cannot modify it without usurping his place. But the false interpretation survived the protest of the wise Ezekiel,
- 3.4 the Sixth Commandment (“Do not commit homicide.”) already condemns criminality,
- 3.5 the Second Commandment comes right after the first because mass pedo-sexual criminality is particularly reprehensible. Stigmatizing sexual mutilation as a crime against creation (humanity), it punishes it in an imprescriptible way,
- 3.6 the dissymmetry between a boundless reward and a limited in time punishment is due to the dissymmetry between ascendants and descendants; one does not at all see why, if it were the descendants, the divine wrath would stop at the fourth generation, whereas, in the other way round, the issue does not arise,
- 3.7 the terms “whatever image” may include circumcision,
- 3.8 and the conjunction “for” may mark the link of cause to effect between the ban of idols and images and the crime that alters the image of the human body,
- 3.9 the version of the Second Commandment in the Book of Deuteronomy (5: 9), a book of priests which was easy to modify, rubs the terms: "children up to” out, which tends to make believe that the chastising would aim at descendant generations. But who could admit that the most sacred text of the Torah, carved in stone by God in person would have varied? That physical falsification has favoured the intellectual falsification of the Book of the Exodus, impossible to alter since it was well-known to the people. The blue-pencilling may have been operated at the return from the exile of the Jews in Babylon, at the time of the alleged discovery of the manuscript buried in the temple. It enabled re-establishing circumcision that had to be given up in captivity; it was a custom of the Egyptians, Nebuchadnezzar's worst enemies, from whom it was vital to be distinguished (cf. Sabbah M. and R. The secrets of the Exodus. London: Thorsons Ltd; 2002),
- 3.10 at last, through abolishing sexual mutilation, Moses tolls the bell for the inhuman “exclusion from the people” of the opponents; an identity of particular sign through a so-called divine order had instituted discrimination and segregation with the "elected". The abolition of this kind of racism is very obviously linked with "circumcision of the heart".
The divine periphrasis: “the crime of fathers”, was therefore denatured and God changed his mind between both Covenants. Moses abolished Abraham’s commandment because law may not speak against life (the foreskin is a very erogenous organ and a protective sheath). Against the alliance through submission (Gen., 17), he contracted the alliance between equals (Deut., 5: 4) of the great Judaism, authentic and universal. The legislator founder of a judicial system with three degrees of jurisdiction decreed the first abolition of the death penalty and the first ethical condemnation of sexual mutilation in history. So, the Second and Sixth Commandments make the Decalogue, the first declaration of human duties and rights in history, a declaration of the very first, indivisible, inalienable and sacred human right: the right to the body. We are requiring its inscription as article 1 of the Universal declaration of the rights of the human person.
For a thorough demonstration, see: circabolition.multiply.com
(*) This text is summarized in an 15.01.08 e-letter of Sigismond to the editor of the British medical journal:http://www.bmj.com/cgi/eletters/335/7631/1180#183746 (towards the bottom of the page)
On 4 September 2008, this subject was given as a lecture in the University of Keele (UK), during the 10th international symposium of NOCIRC nocirc.org/symposia/tenth/symposium08.pdf, organized with NORM-UK and the School of law of the University. Römer T. Personal correspondence. 2010.
(Editor's note: This article was updated 04 Feb 2011)
Michel Hervé Navoiseau-Bertaux (Sigismond) is the author of "Sexual mutilation: excision, circumcision, the victims' point of view", for free at circabolition.multiply.com; he is an Independent psychoanalysis researcher (Chercheur indépendant en psychanalyse) based in Paris, France, who works with Salem-News.com to help raise awareness of the massive societal problems connected to the blindly accepted, mutilating practice of circumcision. He says, "Non violence is as fundamental as violence, love and hatred, justice and injustice. But power is at the tip of the tongue and the sweet violence of speech, if one takes hold of it, can silence weapons."
(La non violence est aussi fondamentale que la violence, l'amour et la haine, le juste et l'injuste. Mais le pouvoir est au bout de la langue et la douce violence de la parole, si l'on s'en empare, peut faire taire les armes.)