The Public Defense of MBP Took a Body Blow

For two days running, Michael Savage, a radio show host with a listening audience of ten million, delivered some very effective rants (here and here) against Metziah B’Peh (MBP), the practice among most Hasidim and some other Haredim of orally suctioning the circumcision wound. He portrayed it as barbaric, perverted, dangerous, and lacking in biblical basis. Michael Savage is an ignoramus about Jewish law. The Haredim who called in to defend MBP were inarticulate and ignorant. But all this is besides the point. He carried the day with arguments that will resonate with the general public.

As DovBear wrote,

You can’t defend mbp on its own merits. The practice is hideous. It provides no health benefits. The spiritual benefits it allegedly provides are intangible and can’t be discussed without engaging in all sorts of logical fallacies. All an mbp defender can say is this: “We’ve done it for thousands of years. For this reason alone the practice carries a great deal of historical and cultural significance. We’re sorry that you find it hideous, but we don’t. Chalk that up to culture and upbringing. So until someone demonstrates conclusively that mbp is more dangerous to infants than, say, riding a crowded bus during flu season, we’re going to keep doing it. We respect your right to dislike it and no one is asking you to try it.” The fact that the fanboys instead try to convince Savage that mbp is not only mandated by God but the safest, most beautiful thing anyone can do is why they are idiots.

Savage’s ignorance about rabbinic Judaism is irrelevant to how the non-Jewish public will respond. Most of them probably think Savage knows what he is talking about. His show will probably help generate more political pressure to prosecute mohelim (religious circumcisers) who cause herpes.

Agudah tried to mitigate the damage by trumpeting a University of Pennsylvania paper which questions the research on the link between MBP and infant cases of Herpes. But I find the claim dubious. I doubt there is such a peer reviewed paper. If there was, I believe Agudah would have provided a citation. I searched the site of the University of Pennsylvania, Center for Evidence Based Practice and could not find any such study. Methinks Agudah is once again playing fast and loose with the truth.

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7 thoughts on “The Public Defense of MBP Took a Body Blow

  1. Joel Betesh & Brian Leas, Risk of Neonatal Herpes Simplex Virus Type 1 Infection
    Associated with Jewish Ritual Circumcision, PENN MEDICINE CENTER FOR
    EVIDENCE-BASED MEDICINE at 1 (Dec. 2012).

  2. Surgeons – and a mohel is functioning as a surgeon – stopped sucking wounds with their mouths 130 years ago, back when the germ theory of disease was proven to be more than just a theory. About the only time a wound should be sucked is when it’s an incision made over a snakebite site and the suctioning is felt to be useful in reducing the volume of venom remaining in the body. Desperate situation calling for a desperate approach. There’s a moderate health-based case to be made for circumcision however it’s an elective procedure and should be carried out under sterile conditions. For a physician mohel to perform MBP consitutes gross malpractice and is effectively criminal in my view (I’m a physician). For lay mohelim it should likewise be considered criminal; there’s no standard of practice for such people that I know of.

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