Maimonides (Rambam 12th century) in his Guide for the Perplexed ( my edition translated from the original arabic edition, revised throughout (Eighth Impression) second edition published 1904, reprinted in 1956), offers the following basic explanations for circumcision on Page 378
"As regards circumcision, I think that one of its objects is to limit sexual intercourse, and to weaken the organ of generation as far as possible, and thus cause man to be moderate." "There is, however, another important object in this commandment. It gives to all members of the same faith, i.e., to all believers in the Unity of
God, a common bodily sign, so that it is impossible for any one that is a stranger, to say that he belongs to them."
Rambam also mentions circumcision as part of the covenant with god.
Here are five objections to Rambam and circumcision:
1) Perhaps Rambam was unaware that many other cultures also circumcise and so it would do a poor job differentiating jew from a gentile wishing to gain access.
2) Why would attenuating the penis be a good thing. It should be as strong and healthy as possible to allow us to be fruitful and multiply. And why should man be moderated, since did not God create man a certain way, and man has free will according to the Torah.
3) The procedure was dangerous in ancient times see The Dangers of Circumcision as found in the Talmud
4) We find God telling Abraham in Genesis 17:6 And I will make thee exceeding fruitful, and I will make nations of thee, and kings shall come out of thee.
7 And I will establish My covenant between Me and thee and thy seed after thee throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee and to thy seed after thee.
8 And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land of thy sojournings, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.'
9 And God said unto Abraham: 'And as for thee, thou shalt keep My covenant, thou, and thy seed after thee throughout their generations.
10 This is My covenant, which ye shall keep, between Me and you and thy seed after thee: every male among you shall be circumcised.
11 And ye shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token of a covenant betwixt Me and you.who will make Abraham fruitful.
The promises of fecundity in Genesis is reminiscent of fertility cults.
5) I have seen information that suggests:
a) The circumcised male adversely affects the female during intercourse.
b) Circumcision adversely affects the male ability to perform sexually in a healthy normal fashion.
(I need to obtain more medical opinions on this but the information I have seen is very convincing).
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Tuesday, March 18, 2014
Circumcision and Maimonides
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