The Brit Mila (circumcision) of Sela Ferguson, son of Shani and Kobi Ferguson, grandson of Shira and Ari Sorko-Ram
What could be more bizarre than a religious ritual that circumcises a baby eight days old? Nothing, as far as a German judge in Cologne is concerned who recently declared that circumcision (brit milah in Hebrew) is “a violation of physical integrity” and as such is a criminal act. The judge went on to say that “the child’s body is permanently and irreparably changed by the circumcision.” This change, opined the judge, “conflicts with the child’s interest of later being able to make his own decision on his religious affiliation.”
One could suppose this assault on circumcision came out of the blue, but sadly, that is not the case. Attacks on Jewish religious traditions have been an unfortunate part of European history since Roman times. And now, once again there is a concerted effort to criminalize God’s commandment to the Jewish people. One visiting rabbi in Berlin to discuss the ban called it “perhaps the most serious attack on Jewish life in Europe since the Holocaust.”
This legal decision would make perfect sense to a godless judge and a nation that no longer considers the truths of the Bible a core value. In fact, the majority of German people support the ban on circumcision. The editorial page in the Jerusalem Post reported that 56% of Germans believe that circumcision should be illegal.
A Bavarian professor, Dr. Holm Putzke, applauded the ruling. “After all the knee-jerk outrage has subsided,” he wrote, “it is to be hoped it will set in motion a discussion about religiously motivated violence against children.”
Dr. Frank Montgomery, president of the German Medical Association told the BBC: “It leaves doctors in a legal quagmire. What rights do parents have over their children’s religion,” Montgomery wondered, adding that “with baptism in Christianity, you pre-construct the religious position of little children by baptizing them.” To play it safe, Dr. Montgomery gave orders that German doctors not perform circumcisions.
Soon after the Cologne decision, a German doctor, Sebastian Guevara Kamm in the Bavarian city of Hof, filed a complaint against Rabbi David Goldberg, an Israeli native who serves as Chief rabbi in that city. Dr. Kamm filed a complaint claiming the mohel (Jewish ritual circumciser) causes a child bodily harm.
Dr. Goldberg said he had been performing circumcisions for 40 years in Germany, and would continue. He added he could only assume the complaint against him had an anti-Semitic motivation. “I can’t see any other reason for it.” But Kamm responded that he felt “duty bound to protect children.”
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, considered a good friend of Israel, urged her government to legislate around the ruling saying it would make Germany a “laughing stock.” However, legislation takes time—at the least, many months.
Moreover, this decision by one judge in Cologne—and whose authority is valid only in that city, has caused a ripple affect that is spreading throughout Europe. Already, the Jewish Hospital in Berlin, which has been performing ritual circumcisions for 250 years, has stopped. Hospitals in Austria and Switzerland are perplexed as to whether or not circumcisions should be allowed in their countries.
In the Jewish community, there is incredulity and alarm at the German court’s decision. Jonah Sievers, the chief rabbi of Lower Saxony, said that when he first heard it, he “thought it was just impossible.”
Now politicians in Denmark, Norway and Finland are reported to have come out in favor of outlawing the practice in their nations.
Some European countries may have issues with a growing, often radical, Muslim population that is resisting integration. Britain’s chief rabbi sees the ruling as a blow primarily directed at Muslims, with Jews as collateral damage. But restricting the rights of Muslims and Jews to carry out a religious ceremony symbolizing purity and man’s covenant with God is surely not the way to proceed.
ACTIVISTS PUSH FOR BANS IN THE U.S.
By no means is this wave of protests over Jews circumcising their children limited to Europe. In San Francisco, a ban on circumcision qualified for the 2011 ballot in San Francisco, and a similar campaign began in Santa Monica, California. The San Francisco measure which was later struck down in part for violating the religious freedoms of Jews and Muslims would have made circumcising any male under age 18 a crime punishable by a year in jail or a $1,000 fine.
The attempt in Santa Monica also failed, and even though activists in Massachusetts worked hard, they too were not able to pass a law against the Biblical command to the Jewish people.
Though anti-circumcision activists in the U.S. have not succeeded in getting their proposals on the ballot, they have no thought whatsoever of stopping their efforts to make circumcision illegal.
Matthew Hess, a San Francisco man with a mission, explained, “The end goal for us is making cutting boys’ foreskin a federal crime.”
Hess is the author of an online comic book, “Foreskin Man.” The “hero” rescues babies about to be cut by the grotesque Jewish villain called Monster Mohel. These comic books are vile, and are on a par with the sleaze spewed out by Nazis and extremists throughout the Arab and Islamic world.
Another anti-circumcision crusader, Jena Troutman, who wants to outlaw circumcision in all America explained, “I am just a mom trying to save the little babies.” Ms. Troutman said she considered putting religious exemptions in the measure, but then decided, “Why should only some babies be protected?”
What I have observed in my lifetime is that when an anti-God or anti-Bible or anti-Semitic movement begins, it will not stop as it is driven by unseen evil spirits who have secured a foothold in an individual or group of people. As long as Christians sleep, as long as the Church does nothing, Satan will use the energies of these deceived people who see evil as good and good as evil, until they reach their goal.
BENEFITS OF CIRCUMCISION
There are numerous medical reports on the web explaining that on the eighth day when circumcision takes place it also happens to be the day when the infant’s potassium level, which helps blood to clot, peaks.
Secondly, despite rare media reports and rabid blogs to the contrary, ritual circumcision is a very safe procedure. International health organizations have long promoted circumcision as an important strategy for reducing the spread of the AIDS virus.
However, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, circumcision has fallen out of favor with American parents over the past few decades, with rates falling from about 80% in the 1970s to 55% in 2010.
The Los Angeles Times recently cited a study predicting that as the number of circumcisions goes down in the U.S., the cost of health care will steadily climb because of sexually transmitted diseases.
Why? Because circumcision has been proven to be the second most effective means—after condoms—of stopping the transmission of HIV-AIDS, with the British Medical Journal reporting that circumcised men are eight times less likely to contract the infection. Research concludes male circumcision also reduces the risk of cervical cancer in women by 20%, and reduces men’s risk of contracting other sexually transmitted diseases, including herpes, syphilis and various cancers.
Even the Washington Times reported that “declining U.S. circumcision rates could add more than $4 billion in health care costs in coming years because of increased illness and infections.”
Yet it is important to recognize that while medical studies have shown health benefits to circumcision, Jews do not circumcise their sons for that reason, but because of the covenant that it represents with God. “While the American Academy of Pediatrics has changed its position several times, the Jewish people have always been steadfast in their commitment to brit milah,” says Dr. Avraham Steinberg, author of the Encyclopedia of Jewish Medical Ethics.
JEWS OF ALL PERSUASIONS UNITE AGAINST ATTACK ON THEIR RELIGION
Israeli journalists who are completely secular understand the importance of parents’ religious freedom to circumcise their sons. Haaretz’ Bradley Burston wrote: “My parents had me circumcised because they had come to believe that it was an act of faith and an expression of religious devotion, a profound tie to thousands of years of tradition. It was their right to choose, and their responsibility …To criminalize so fundamental an act and commandment of Jewish and Muslim faith is to deprive millions of people not only of their freedom of religion, but of their rights and duties as human parents. If the intactivists [anti-circumcision activists] succeed in criminalizing belief, God help us all.”
The New York Times explained it thus: Jewish groups see the ballot measures as a very real threat, likening them to bans on circumcision that existed in Soviet-era Russia and Eastern Europe and in ancient Roman and Greek times. The circumcision of males is an inviolable requirement of Jewish law that dates back to Abraham’s circumcision of himself and his sons in the Book of Genesis.
“Jews say the proposed ban is an assault on religious freedom that could have a widespread impact all over the country. Beyond the biblical, there are emotional connections: checking for circumcision was one of the ways Jewish children could be culled from their peers by Nazis and the czar’s armies.”
Israeli President Shimon Peres told German President Joachim Gauck in a recent letter that circumcision is “at the core of Jewish identity.” A Jewish citizen of Germany said, “Banning circumcision is tantamount to saying no Jewish life is possible in Germany. I don’t think Germany can afford to take that position.”
Knesset member Danny Danon summoned the German ambassador to Israel, telling him, “Circumcision is one of the pillars of Judaism, and the last time it was restricted was in Germany during its darkest hour.”
Pinchas Goldschmidt, the chief rabbi of Moscow and the president of the Conference of European Rabbis, said the court’s decision was part of what he saw as growing infringement upon religious freedom in Europe. “Circumcision is existential,” he stated. “Without it there can be no Jewish community.”
Rabbi Abraham Cooper of the Simon Wiesenthal Center told CBN News, “The Jewish people’s commitment to brit milah outlived Stalin, Hitler and all the other tyrants who understood the importance of brit milah to the Jewish people. In the former Soviet Union, Jews put their lives on the line in order to get a brit milah,” the rabbi said.
“People are shocked that it has reached this level because there has never been this kind of a direct assault on a Jewish practice here… This is something that American Jews have always taken for granted—that something that was so contested elsewhere but here, we’re safe and we’re secure.”
The truth is that only if we who are believers understand the spiritual forces at work can we comprehend how people who do not fear the God of the Bible can rise up across the world with one goal in mind—to destroy the Jewish people.
Since we began our lives in Israel decades ago, we have participated in many circumcisions of Jewish baby boys, eight days old. It is a solemn yet joyous event for all the family and friends who have come to witness another child being brought into the Covenant of God that He made with Abraham nearly 4,000 years ago.
Our son had his brit milah some 34 years ago; a rabbi mohel who quietly believed that the faith of the Messianic Jews of Israel is the true faith performed the circumcision. And a year and a half ago, in Jerusalem, our grandson (son of Kobi and Shani) joined the ranks of the children of Abraham, Isaac and Israel on his eighth day.
Circumcision is the key ordinance identifying Jews as the chosen people of God. Contracts are usually boring but essential documents guiding the lives of the human race – whether it’s a nation’s constitution, a couple’s marriage certificate or a will left to one’s descendants.
But God created the most extraordinary contract with the man Abraham. After choosing him from the entire human race, God informed him that this covenant was a promise that through Abraham and his descendents, the world would be blessed, and that He, the Sovereign Lord, would be God forever to his “peculiar people.”
What was even more amazing is that this covenant was a one-sided, unconditional contract. Well, it was unconditional except for one single command that had to be kept by Abraham and his descendants. On the eighth day of the birth of a child of Abraham, he must be circumcised!
“This is my covenant you shall keep, between Me and you and your descendants after you: Every male child among you shall be circumcised… and it shall be a sign of the covenant between Me and you. He who is eight days old among you shall be circumcised, every male child in your generations.” Genesis 17:10-12
The Lord then gave him a warning: “And the uncircumcised male child, who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin, that person shall be cut off from his people [the Jews]; he has broken My covenant.” Genesis 17:14
If this is not a peculiar, strange arrangement between God and man, then what is? But this Abrahamic covenant was and is an everlasting covenant of boundless blessing, promising that this nation would impact the world. This nation would receive a particular piece of land, with specified borders by God himself. And this covenant would be forever – as long as Israel circumcised their male children. Read it for yourself!
It is important to understand this covenant did not automatically bring an Israelite eternal life. That depended on whether or not a descendant of Abraham had a heart for God. Four hundred plus years later, God gave to this same nation a second covenant. If ever there was a conditional contract, this was it!
The purpose of this covenant was to help God’s beloved people know whether or not they were keeping the standards and laws of God. The goal was to bring His chosen ones to understand they were an unclean people with unclean lips – as Isaiah the prophet so eloquently cried out. Why were they so sinful? Because they are part of the human race, and the human race is fallen. A fallen race is a cursed race in the eyes of the Holy One of Israel.
Here then are the steps the Lord ordained to create a people wholly given to Him:
1. Abraham’s Covenant: To remember that God’s eternal promise was to bless Israel, to give her a specific piece of land for her nation, and to always, forever, be her God. This covenant is unconditional as long as the male children of the Jewish people are circumcised.
2. Mosaic Covenant: Given to Israel through Moses to show each and every Israeli that if he committed any of a long list of sins, he would be cut off from God. For example, breaking the Sabbath day or one of the holidays, cursing one’s parents, and many other commandments would mean that the offender was cursed.
3. The New Covenant: God’s plan of redemption is an immensely important and complex subject which needs a book to explain. But the essence of what God was saying is: Israel, you are my people, my peculiar people. I will always be your God. As long as you circumcise your children, you have My promise. Nevertheless, I must show you your sin (who likes to be shown their sins?) so that you will understand you need Me to wash away your sins. You need a New Covenant which will take away the curses of the Law of Moses, so that I can freely give you the many blessings of the Law and fulfill the great promises which I swore to Abraham.
Through the prophets, God spoke time and again, saying, “Come Israel, come to Me and I will bring you Salvation which you as a sinner cannot bring yourself.”
“Ho! Everyone who thirsts, Come to the waters; And you who have no money, Come, buy and eat.” Isaiah 55:1
The Old Testament is God’s Love Story to His Chosen People—his faithfulness to Israel, and His grief over their sinfulness. In the Old Testament, God explained that there is forgiveness of sins, but only through the spilling of blood. What did that mean? That another life (in the Old Testament, an animal was killed) must die so that the sinner could have life—eternal life.
But the Bible teaches over and over again that eternal salvation comes only from God, not anything mankind can do for himself. So God sent a part of His own Divine Being in Yeshua the Messiah who ratified the New Covenant with his blood. It is He whose death brings life to Israel—and to all peoples everywhere! It is for anyone from any nation who wishes to be grafted into the Olive Tree—God’s symbol of the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Israel. (See Romans 11)
Most Jews have not yet received salvation through the New Covenant. They are still burdened with their sins described in the Mosaic Covenant. But the Promise is still theirs. The Promise that God would be their God—as long as they circumcised their male children.
Through the ages, Jews have fallen away from the Jewish nation—intermarrying, deciding they no longer believed in any God, integrating into the races of other nations and even forced conversion. But for centuries most Jews, persecuted as they were, stayed in close communities to survive, trying to keep the Law of Moses as best they could.
However, in the last couple of centuries, besides the terrible Holocaust which destroyed one third of all Jews, the Jewish nation continues to shrink. Many Jews whose parents believed in God and Jewish traditions one generation ago, have simply become secular. First, they stop going regularly to the synagogue. Next, they no longer wear clothes that identify them as Jews. After that, slowly, if not they, then their children no longer fast on Yom Kippur, or no longer observe the holidays such as Passover.
But the last sign that a Jew no longer identifies with his people at all, is that parents decide against circumcising their male children. When that happens, that family ceases to be a part of the Jewish nation.
Satan has tried to exterminate the Jewish people in the Holocaust. He failed.
He tried to keep the state of Israel from being reborn. He failed.
He enlisted the strongest Muslim countries to destroy Israel. He failed.
His servant Mahmoud Ahmadinejad plans to bomb Israel out of existence. He will fail.
He is trying to completely delegitimize the Jewish nation through the UN by demonizing her as a racist pariah nation. He will fail.
He is trying to destroy the Jewish people by making it a crime to follow God’s command to circumcise their sons. He will fail.
He will execute his grand plan to bring all the nations of the world against her. He will fail.
One day, all Israel shall be saved.
THANK YOU, MAOZ PARTNERSFor Outfitting a Hundred Israeli Soldiers With New Battle Vests, Knee Protection and Camouflage Netting
They were so thankful!
We didn’t dream their officers would make such a fuss about Maoz’ gift to them. But they were so grateful!
They told us that in these difficult times for everybody, they deeply appreciated the fact that friends of Maoz would think of them and send them help.
Because of cuts in Israel’s military budget, this unit was lacking these basic items.
With your help, every soldier in the unit received his or her bag of new equipment!
Prayer groups throughout the congregation pray for the salvation and healing of members and for the lost.
Even though we are convinced that the prayers of our readers and contributors are critical to the work of the Lord in Israel, we also know that we who are living here in the land must be strong intercessors to see the breakthroughs that God has promised our people.
Therefore we at Congregation Tiferet Yeshua in Tel Aviv have times of prayer in every regular Sabbath service.
The congregation prays each week for our believing soldiers, both present and those on duty.
Maoz is partnering with the Messianic Jewish Alliance of America to purchase shelving for the MJAA’s new humanitarian aid warehouse in Sderot—the Israeli city under constant attacks by Hamas rockets.
This 15,000 square foot warehouse will soon be filled with shipments of 42 cargo containers—each containing some $150,000 (£95,000, €117,000) worth of donated goods by private businesses.
These goods will then be delivered to centers around the whole southern area of Israel. The first stock will be survival kits for use in bomb shelters for families living under the poverty line, as well as other wartime aid.
However, the goods cannot be placed in the warehouse until it is fitted with floor-to-ceiling palletized shelving. That’s where Maoz comes in.
The total cost for the shelves is $50,000 (£31,300, €39,500).
We believe our Maoz co-laborers will feel honored for such an opportunity to bless these needy Israelis under fire.
You may have been blessed with great wealth, or you may have very little. Either way, you can, and you should leave a legacy of faithfulness!
Think about the people whose stories are told in scripture. God used the rich and the poor, the famous and the obscure, senior citizens and children, widows, orphans, people of great faith and even people whose confidence in God was shaky. Wherever you are, and whoever you are, God can use you too, in ways you may not have imagined!
God’s Word provides a guide for your life, a roadmap to the future, and a secure inheritance. Aren’t you glad that God wrote down His plans for you and charted your path? You can do the same for your loved ones and for generations of Jewish people who are waiting to hear the Good News of the Gospel.
Estate planning is not just for the well-heeled or elderly. It needn’t be complicated. And most importantly, it is the opportunity of a lifetime to make your greatest gift to bless Israel and at the same time to ensure that your family has what they need for the future.