Yeshiva World and Matzav have been publicizing the kol koreh (public proclamation) denouncing NYC moves to require mohelim (circumcisers) to get signed consent forms that describe the infection risks of Metzitzah B’Peh (MBP) which is oral suction to remove blood after circumcision. The Kol Koreh rails against this desecration of Jewish tradition, this imposition on religious freedom. The kol koreh has about 200 rabbinical signers. Strangely, not a single member of the Moetzes of Agudah has signed. In fact very few Yeshivish personalities have signed. I only notice Rabbis Wachtfogel, Olshin, Solomon, Feivel Cohen and Hillel David. Most of the Yeshiva world gedolim did not sign. Why is that?
The answer is simple, most of the Yeshivish world follows there own poskim who rejected MBP at various times during the last 100 years because they felt MBP was dangerous and thus against halachah. A hundred years earlier the Chassam Sofer also rejected MBP for similar reasons.
If you don’t believe me see this fine review article by Shlomo Sprecher. If you prefer going directly to rabbinical sources see Rabbi Moshe B. Pirutinsky’s Sefer Habrit (1972). Rabbi Pirutinsky, a mohel, was a student of the Chofetz Chaim. This sefer has haskamot (endorsements) by Rabbis C. Shmulevits, Y Hutner, Y Ruderman, M M Zaks, M Gifter, M Feinstein and S. Kotler. The sefer was reprinted six years later with the same haskamot.
So it is not surprising that most yeshivish rabbonim will not sign the kol koreh. In fact the only interesting question is why R. Yisroel Belsky claims there are no risks. I am not surprised that in the current climate of science denial he insists he knows more about statistics than the experts at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the most prestigious epidemiological organization in the world. By why is he also rejecting the conclusions about MBP put forth by the gedolim he reveres? The answer is that he is an occassional mohel who has practiced MBP for some years. Clearly, he made a decision at some point to go that route in spite of the predominant alternative view in the yeshiva world. The other interesting question is why the yeshivish world has not challenged the claim that MBP is safe? Actually my question is rhetorical. They are probably silent for political reasons.
NYC politics and the orthodox vote is why the health department came up with the signed consent form. If the Health Department had its way it would ban MBP. But they concluded that this will not stop it from happening. So they settled for warning parents. Chasidish parents will probably ignore the warning. But non-chasidic parents will think twice about MBP and will therefore think twice about hiring a hasidic mohel.
I wonder whether the litvish rabbonim who lack the courage to openly state their position are secretly hoping that the Health Department consent forms will prevent the spread of MBP into their world? The consent form will have an added bonus for the yeshivish world; it will help their mohelim get more work.
[Added 9/4/12- See this discussion of the medical evidence of the risk of MBP by mohel and vascular surgeon, G. A. Gelbfish.]