Reposted: The following statement was issued by Rav Shmuel Kamenetsky, rosh yeshiva of Yeshiva of Philadelphia:
I wish to clarify remarks that were attributed to me on the subject of metzitzah b’peh.
The practice is indeed time honored and is followed by the majority of the Orthodox Jewish community today around the world, as it has been for thousands of years.
To my knowledge, it has not been proven that the practice leads to contraction of illness. The halacha is extremely sensitive to health concerns and it is wrong to insinuate that Jews, who are very particular in the care of their children, would be engaging for thousands of years in a practice that is inherently dangerous.
We have a sacred responsibility to protect our children from danger and that responsibility is paramount. However, in the absence of an inherent danger in performing mitzvos or following our traditions, we must follow them. In my view, there has been no demonstration of an inherent danger associated with metzitzah b’peh.
The statement, “I don’t think there is a response to them,” referred specifically to those who allegedly said that it would be invalid to use a tube where there are demonstrable health issues present regarding either the mohel or the child.
Similarly, my comment that in my community “as far as I know they do metzitzah with a tube” refers to a case where a health concern has been established. In no manner was it intended to suggest that I believe that it should be universally adopted.
In no way should what I said be misconstrued as supporting the curbing of, or outside interference with, metzitzah b’peh. In fact, we have very effectively self-regulated the practice over the past 3,500 years.
Jews have made tremendous sacrifices over the millennia to properly observe our religious obligations and traditions. It would be a shame to return to the days when parents and circumcisers feared performing the hallowed bris, which enters every Jewish male into a covenant with G-d.
Rabbi Shmuel Kamenetsky