The Truth About Metzitza B’Peh

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bris-milahBy Daniel S. Berman, M.D.

It has been more than seven years since the reports broke out in the media  that the Metzitza bePeh (hereinafter, MbP) part of the ritual of Jewish  circumcision caused Herpes simplex infection in babies. This became a  topic of great concern and much discussion in the Jewish community. One  baby tragically died of neonatal (within six weeks of birth) Herpes simplex  infection following a Bris which included MbP. Also, around this time, a  controversial article was published in the journal Pediatrics, which claimed to prove that MbP was a direct cause of Herpes simplex infection in babies.

All of this prompted action by the New York City Department of Health  and the New York State Department of Health against one particular Mohel,  who had been linked to three cases of Herpes simplex infection.

Click here to read the full article.

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  1. It’s a long and very informative article. I read it in it’s entirety.

    I suppose it’s important to note that MDT specifically stated that this is not really an halachic or safty issue, but a cultural and ideological issue. MDT (and the other detractors of Mbp) want to establish the “prominence and importance of a secular education in order to be a good Jew”. Mbp was just a good excuse

  2. Great article!

    Sadly, it is not the health dept that is really behind this. It is the modern orthodox like ———- who are causing all the trouble.

  3. Those who oppose MBP have done a terrible job at getting their point across. By saying or implying that only people who are primitive and unaware of medical issues would have MBP, it has no halachic importance/basis and you need us to force you to stop,(even by involving the government)etc. they more or less guaranteed that their target audience would perceive them as a hostile threatening group and therefore wouldn’t take them seriously.Had they came across as a group bringing up the halachic issue of safek sakana etc. they would of accomplished much much more.

  4. “Had they came across as a group bringing up the halachic issue of safek sakana etc. they would of accomplished much much more.”

    That would only be true if Halacha and saftey – ratzon Hashem – was their true motivation. However, Hashem’s will was not their motivation at all. Their motivation is to try and give their shita prominence, a qualitative edge. Their shita is obviously failing and this is a last ditch attempt.

  5. No, it’s MDT.

    The Midrash in the beginning of this weeks Parsha clearly states: “talmid chacham sh’ein bo daas, neveilah tova heimenu”.

  6. The mohel that made the metzitza b’peh for the baby that passed away about 3 weeks ago. was tested for herpes was found to be negative. so it did not come from metzitza b’peh. why don’t they investigate and stop it where it came from ?

  7. Dr. Berman,

    On Page 20 of your article, you state:

    Another startling statement made in the article is that “oral suction may not only endanger the child, but also may expose the Mohel to human
    immunodeficiency virus (HIV) or hepatitis B from infected infants.” As HIV has been around for over 30 years and hepatitis B has probably been around for many hundreds of years, and as there never has been a single case identified of such transmission of either virus, it is reasonable to assume that this is not a danger that needs to be considered.”

    I believe that Rav Eliyashiv has a Teshuva published in the 1980’s specifically saying MBP is not required due to Sfek Sefeika. One of the concerns was that the Mohel could theoretically get Aids from doing MBP on the child of a Baal tshuva who might had had AIDS before becoming Frum.

    Can you please comment on this?


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