Volume 46 Number 89
                    Produced: Wed Feb  9  6:05:30 EST 2005

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Administrivia - Posting to mail-jewish
         [Avi Feldblum]
Metzitzah- how prevelant is it? (3)
         [Ben Katz, <FriedmanJ@...>, Ron Sher]
Mohel's Knife
M'tiztza ba-Peh Article
         [Abbi Adest]
Plastic Coverings
         [Joshua Meisner]
Two prayer questions


From: Avi Feldblum <mljewish@...>
Date: Wed, 9 Feb 2005 06:00:28 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Administrivia - Posting to mail-jewish

Just a quick note, prompted by Debby Korns submission via Abbi Adest.

You do not need to be a subscriber to mail-jewish via the standard email
distribution to post to mail-jewish. If you are reading this list via one
of the Web based interfaces, you can still directly post. Just send your
submission to <mljewish@...> That is one of the advantages of a
fully moderated / edited list. Often, posting is limited to subscribers
only, to ensure that no spam is sent to the list. Here, besides the
excellent spam filters that Shamash has implemented, I act as the final
spam filter. So Debby and others, please feel free to submit your postings
directly to me.

And now back to our regularly scheduled programming.

Avi Feldblum
mail-jewish Moderator


From: Ben Katz <bkatz@...>
Date: Tue, 08 Feb 2005 13:15:50 -0600
Subject: Re: Metzitzah- how prevelant is it?

>From: <D26JJ@...> (J. Kaufman)
> >A baby who just died of herpes infection is suspected of >contracting
> >it from a mohel who performed metzitzah b'peh.
>I think it is important to publicize that the Mohel was tested NEGATIVE
>for herpes and was NOT the cause of this tragedy.
>J. Kaufman

        I don't know where Mr. Kaufman got his information, or what case
he was referring to, but in general the mohel IS to blame.  That is the
whole point and why metzizah bepeh should be a thing of the past.  See
the most comprehensive report to date in Pediatrics (URL:
http://www.pediatrics.org/cgi/content/full/114/2/e259) where all tested
mohalim (4/8; the others did not consent to be tested) were positive and
7/8 tested mothers were negative.  And this is not a new observation.
Isolated case reports of herpes being transmitted by metzizah bepeh have
been reported in the past, and other diseases (eg TB) have been reported
as far back as the 19th century (causing the French rabbinate to outlaw
oral metzizah at that time).  Interestingly enough, Rabbi Moshe Tendler
is a coauthor on the Pediatrics report, presumably to give the medical
recommendation ("We support ritual circumcision but without oral
metzizah...) halachaic veracity.

Ben Z. Katz, M.D.
Children's Memorial Hospital, Division of Infectious Diseases
2300 Children's Plaza, Box # 20, Chicago, IL 60614
e-mail: <bkatz@...>

From: <FriedmanJ@...>
Date: Tue, 8 Feb 2005 18:43:18 EST
Subject: Re: Metzitzah- how prevelant is it?

Didn't we have a discussion about metzizah, STDS and aids a gazillion
years ago? (At least ten). Didn't we decide that to protect the baby and
the mohel, it makes sense not to do it because of pikuach nefesh?

Why doesn't this stuff doesn't trickle down into working Judaism? At
least two babies are dead. For what CONCEIVABLE reason? Please explain
it to me. Please.

From: Ron Sher <mohel2@...>
Date: Tue, 8 Feb 2005 17:48:48 +0200
Subject: Metzitzah- how prevelant is it?

Herpes appears in two areas. On the lips or by the genital areas. A
mohel who has to do metzizah can either do it by mouth or alternatively
by using a glass tube. Lots of ink has being spilled about the halachic
preference to the two different ways. At the end of the day both
opinions agree that in a case of danger or possible danger you are
allowed and maybe obligated to use the glass tube. A whole book ("Brit
Kruta Lasefatayim") has being written by a prominent Dr to explain that
there is no risk for the mohel to do Metzizah Bepeh. He explains that
the baby can not pass over an infection to the mohel. BUT the other way
round was not discussed.

In the hospitals there have being quite a numerous amount of cases of
babies who had being effected by the herpes after the Bris. Often with a
common denominator that they all had the same mohel !!!

Therefor a glass tube is a good idea not to prevent the mohel
contracting from the baby, but to prevent the baby contracting from the
mohel !!!!


From: <RWERMAN@...>
Date: Tue,  8 Feb 2005 15:01 +0200
Subject: Mohel's Knife

The standard mohel's knife is double edged [herev pipiyot] and is cold
sterilized in alcohol or other disinfectant solution.  It has been shown
that such sterilization does not kill either HIV or Herpes viruses.
Thus, there may be a danger of transferring the virus from an infected
boy to a healthy one.  Hot sterilization, involving boiling water, is
not used as it may nick the knife and make it halachilly invalid.  What
to do?  In Israel, at least they are now selling double edged DISPOSABLE
blades, at about 10 Shekels a piece.  Previously disposable blades were
avoided as they were all single edged.  I strongly advise potential
ba'ale brit milah to insist that their mohel use such blades and avoid
any chance of infection.  

__Bob Werman, MD 


From: Abbi Adest <abbi.adest@...>
Date: Wed, 9 Feb 2005 10:29:07 +0200
Subject: M'tiztza ba-Peh Article

I received the following email from Debby Koren in Jerusalem with
regards to the metzitzah b'peh issue and I thought it would be
interesting for the list. If anyone would like to contact her, feel free
to email me.


Hello Abbi, I saw your post on the mail-jewish list on the website but
am not a member and therefore cannot post. [See my administrative note
above. Mod.] Last summer I wrote a lengthy paper (including many
halakhic sources) exactly on this issue for a course in halakhic
controversies.  Here is a brief summary (that I had sent someone a
number of months ago):

In 1972, Yehudi Pesach Shields published the article "The Making of
Metzitzah" in Tradition, 13:1.  In this article, Dr. Shields encouraged
that the practice of direct oral suction be abandoned.  Recently, I did
a lot of research on the halakhic aspects and responsa about m'tzitza
ba-peh, and wrote a paper for a master's course in Jewish Studies on the
subject M'tzitza Ba-peh: the Legacy of the Orthodox Controversy with
Reform Judaism.

  The introductory paragraph of the paper states:

The goal of this paper is to examine the current halakhic attitudes in
the Orthodox rabbinic community towards m'tzitza ba-peh, in light of the
nineteenth century controversy with Reform Judaism.  In the first
sections of the paper, background on the halakhic basis of the stages in
the rite of circumcision will be discussed, followed by a discussion of
the historical and present-day contexts of the disputes about
circumcision in general and m'tzitza in particular.  We will then
further examine the halakhic status of m'tzitza, to better understand
the response from the Orthodox rabbinic community during the nineteenth
century.  The impact of this response upon twentieth century responsa,
until the present time, will be examined.  This will be followed by a
short review of the dispute about p'ria to compare it with the matter of
m'tzitza.  Lastly, there will be a brief discussion about current
practices in Israel and the United States. In the course of my research,
I studied the responsa from the early nineteenth century up until the
present time, including responsa from such poskim as R' Wozner, R'
Waldenberg, R' Elyashiv, and R' Menashe Klein and materials prepared
under the auspices of the Chief Rabbinate of Israel and presented the
following thesis: It is the thesis of this paper that because the matter
of m'tzitza was raised by people of questionable motives (and/or their
motives were confused with those of the opposers of circumcision) in the
nineteenth century that this matter is still controversial today.  I
further contend that as a result of this controversy, most poskim, even
today, prefer m'tzitza ba-peh, in spite of obvious aesthetic and
hygienic problems, and in spite of halakhic justification for m'tzitza
by other means.  The majority of poskim today are willing to allow
non-oral m'tzitza only because of the threat of AIDS.  And though the
fear and danger of gonorrhea, syphilis, and tuberculosis were probably
at least as great as the fear and danger of AIDS today, rarely, if ever,
is it granted that the poskim of the nineteenth century who opposed
non-oral m'tzitza were in a similar position to poskim today who make
the allowance because of AIDS, and thus should have allowed non-oral
m'tzitza then. I also spoke with people about current practices,
primarily in Israel, but also in the United States.  Over thirty years
after Dr. Shields presented his case, direct oral m'tzitza is still very
commonly used (in Israel it is likely the norm).  However, what is more
interesting (and is my main focus) is the influence of the nineteenth
century poskim on today's attitudes.  As is shown in my paper, some of
the halakhic arguments in the nineteenth century responsa are rather
weak in their attempt to raise the halakhic level and requirement of
using specifically oral suction.  (Though Dr. Shields presents the
halakhic issues quite well, my paper gives additional sources and goes
into further detail.)  Yet, those responsa and their conclusions form
the basis of most p'sak halakha even today.  

My conclusion of my work is that: The Orthodox polemics against the
Reform proposals of the nineteenth century on the matter of m'tzitza
have left an indelible mark on the practice of mohalim today.  Rather
than seeing oral m'tzitza being discarded in place of techniques that
are more in tune with modern medicine, just as cumin and the type of
dressing have been replaced by modern methods without any question, oral
m'tzitza has attained a level of sanctification among the overwhelming
number of poskim and thereby among mohalim.  The few rabbis who
discarded the polemics have made little impact on the attitudes held by
poskim and mohalim.  At best, their opinions are used to support a
b'diavad use of more modern techniques, in light of the fear of AIDS.

I do hope to publish an article based on my paper, and the recent news
has made me feel that it really is important.  I have no objection to
you citing this (but please do mention that I sent it) on the list (as I
said, I can't post there).

Kol tuv,
Debby Koren


From: Joshua Meisner <jmeisner@...>
Date: Tue, 8 Feb 2005 12:39:05 -0500
Subject: Re: Plastic Coverings

> It is probably not worth wasting time wondering about this.  It is
> considered inelegant to use plastic.  Thin, dispoable tablecloths look
> cheap, and I guess reflect on the user.  The thick ones look more
> permanent.  There is no getting beyond this silliness--just consider
> yourself lucky to marry into such a family to which these issues matter.

If a family is so chashuv that one would be fortunate to marry into
it, why would they be involved in such "silliness"?

- Joshua


From: <o7532@...>
Date: Tue, 8 Feb 2005 22:28:47 -0500
Subject: Two prayer questions

If we are allowed to entitle someone without their permission but not to
obligate them (zachin l'adam shelo b'fanav), how can we presume to speak
on others behalf and say 'modim' in plural.

What are the proper kavanot for the congregation, the magbiah, and the
golel, to each have during hagbah.  Is the extent of it the verse 'v'zot
hatorah' and anyway what beyond word play might be the meaning there.

Thank you.


End of Volume 46 Issue 89