Bris, the ritual circumcision as ancient as our people, is under attack internationally and here at home. It isn’t the first time such has happened.
The Greeks outlawed it, with death penalty for those who performed it. And, yet, my ancestors, as well as the ancestors of anyone still Jewish today, defiantly continued. The Hellenists are long gone. The religious Jew still exists.
Spain and the New World under domination of the Inquisition – you’d think no Bris would be done. And, yet, there still existed proud Jews such as Luis de Carvajal, who did a Bris Milah right there in Inquisition custody in a jail cell.
The communists forbade it, with exile to Siberia threatening parents. And, yet, courageous men, such as the former Ribnitzer Rebbe, took up knife in hand and traveled far and wide ensuring Bris continued.
The Nazis were killing out our nation. And, yet, a courageous woman, on the doorstep of the crematorium (and as witnessed by the Bluzhever Rebbe) continued the Mitzva of Bris.
Now a German judge set the tone again to try to do away with our Bris Milah. And Austria and Sweden and Switzerland and who knows what other G-d hating nation will try to follow the “precedent” set by a German. Ah, Amalek tries to beat the Jews again.
Mayor Bloomberg claims he wants to regulate Bris Milah for the “good of the children.” He won’t ban it outright, but mix his nose in and set regulations. Never mind that he is working with flawed scientific data, that his proof of risk has been fashioned by those who want Bris traditions banned and not by those with integrity to truth. That is for another conversation. But, let us talk about Mayor Bloomberg’s supposed big heart that cares for Jewish children.
In order to do that, we need to relearn a few verse in Shmos [Exodus] about our old, wily foe, Paroh of Egypt, in whose footsteps the NYC Mayor is trying to follow. Moshe is sent by G-d to tell Paroh that the Jews must go and serve G-d. At one point, Paroh seems to finally agree that we should have the freedom to worship our Creator. He asks Moshe [Parshas Bo, 10:8] “mee v’mee ha’holchim? who and who are going?” Paroh is ready to let some Jews go serve G-d, but he wants to know who Moshe is planning to take along on this service of G-d. Moshe responds [10:9] “with our youth, with our elderly we will go, with our sons and with our daughters, with our flocks…” Moshe explains to Paroh that service of G-d is not for a few rarified individuals. All Jews must serve G-d, from young to old, and we do it with all our physical possessions.
Ah, if that’s the case, says Paroh, all bets are off, no one is going. [10:10] Paroah says he isn’t letting the Jews go “and your children, see there is bad”. Paroh claims to worry about the children. He says he won’t let the Jews go because he knows the poor children will come to harm in the desert. My father taught us long ago that when the secular say they are worried about our children, it is their under-handed way of trying to defy and sever the continuance of our connection to G-d. If an adult learned Torah under Communism, it wasn’t criminal. To teach the youth, that was criminal. Our enemies want to uproot age-old tradition, the beautiful way of Jewish life that includes children in all aspects of our observance. They cloak it in concern for our children.
Mayor Bloomberg supposedly cares for our children. Yup, this is the guy whose daughter broke her back in horse sports, but continued riding to then crack her spine. There has been no legislative move by the Mayor “for the good of the children” to crack down on this very dangerous sport. (Here we rely on Wikipedia for some statistics: In the United States each year a estimated 30 million people ride horses, resulting in 50,000 emergency room visits (1 visit per 600 riders per year). A survey of 679 equestrians in Oregon, Washington, and Idaho estimated that at some time in their equestrian career one in five will be seriously injured, resulting in hospitalization, surgery, or long-term disability.[)
I’m always amazed by folks so blessed as the Mayor who never fostered or adopted a child. Who never really did anything concretely hands-on out of concern of kids. It usually tells me how much they really care about kids. But that’s just an aside…
It might become harder for us to do the Mitzvah of Bris Milah, we might be threatened with punishment for doing it, but I can swear to you, one and all, there will be proud, unbending Jews who will do it without one nuance of change in our holy tradition.
You see, my friends, we Observant Jews will be around long after the only vestige of Mayor Bloomberg will be a caricature picture in some dusty history books. He isn’t leaving behind Jewish generations at the rate he’s going. And those children who will undergo Bris even illegally, they will be those whom will be the torch bearers of our nation. They will be the ones whose sweet voices will continue to learn and to pray, to set G-dly notions into the world.
And for that I offer, an Ode to Bris Milah:
A little boy, eight days old, held in his mother’s embrace
Softly she hums to him and kisses his tiny face
Rocking gently, cheek to cheek, she awaits to hear the cry
“kvatter, bring the baby, the mohel has just come by.”
Without a pause, without a doubt, she hands up her son
So he, like every Yid, can have a Bris with the Holy One
Placed gently down on Sandeks’ lap on a pillow soft and high
As bris begins, all can hear the Rach HaNimol’s tiny cry
All hearts are full, the pain is there, some tears are silently shed
Please let him live, let us live, “Bdamayich Chayee” is said
And there, next to that baby, Eliyahu Hanavi stands nearby
Hoping that Moshiach will be brought by our collective sigh
Not much is needed from us to get the Geulah in which to rejoice
All that is needed is so little, the pureness of a voice
Hakol Kol Yaakov, the sweet voice of Torah makes darkness part
Allowing the light of dawn to pierce our broken heart.