Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The fight against San Francisco's proposed circumcision ban

San Francisco's top lawyer has declared that the proposed ban on circumcision as a religious ritual in the city is unconstitutional. In light of a lawsuit which may result in a ban on circumcision for religious reasons, but not medical circumstance, Chief Deputy Attorney Therese Stewart said: "San Franciscans cannot be asked to vote on whether to prohibit religious minorities from engaging in a particular religious practice, when the same practice may be performed under nonreligious auspices."

Last night, after davenning at the Kotel for all my own problems =0), I decided to open Rebbe Nachman's Likkutei Tefilot once more and say whatever prayer appeared on the page to which I turned. As a matter of fact, I opened to Reb Nachman's holy prayer on circumcision. I was reminded by the prayer how crucial circumcision is in the Jewish people's mission in the world, to reveal godliness through shemiras habrit and keeping all of Hashem's commandments:

וּתְרַחֵם עַל כָּל יַלְדֵי עַמְּךָ בֵּית יִשְׂרָאֵל הַנִּכְנָסִין לִבְרִיתוֹ שֶׁל אַבְרָהָם אָבִינוּ, וְתַזְמִין לְכֻלָּם תָּמִיד מוֹהֲלִים כְּשֵׁרִים וַהֲגוּנִים וְאֻמָּנִים וּזְרִיזִים בֶּאֱמֶת, בְּאפֶן שֶׁיְּקַיְּמוּ מִצְוַת מִילָה וּפְרִיעָה בְּתַכְלִית הַשְּׁלֵמוּת כִּרְצוֹנְךָ הַטּוֹב, כִּי אַתָּה קִדַּשְׁתָּ יְדִיד מִבֶּטֶן וְצֶאֱצָאָיו חָתַמְתָּ בְּאוֹת בְּרִית קדֶשׁ, וְצִוִּיתָנוּ בְּרַחֲמֶיךָ, לָמוּל אֶת בָּנֵינוּ, בֶּן שְׁמוֹנַת יָמִים, לְהַכְנִיסָם בִּבְרִיתוֹ שֶׁל אַבְרָהָם אָבִינוּ עַל כֵּן זַכֵּנוּ וְעָזְרֵנוּ וְתַזְמִין תָּמִיד מוֹהֲלִים כְּשֵׁרִים וַהֲגוּנִים וְאֻמָּנִים וּרְאוּיִים לַעֲסֹק בְּמִצְוָה נוֹרָאָה הַזּאת, וְתַעֲמד עַל יְמִינָם וְתִסְמְכֵם, שֶׁיִּזְכּוּ לְקַיֵּם מִצְוָה זאת בִּשְׁלֵמוּת הָרָאוּי, בְּאפֶן שֶׁלא יְקַלְקְלוּ חַס וְשָׁלוֹם לְהַתִּינוֹק הַנִּמּוֹל עַל יָדָם רַק יְתַקְּנוּ אוֹתוֹ בְּכָל הַתִּקּוּנִים וְהַקְּדֻשּׁוֹת שֶׁצְּרִיכִין לְתַקֵּן וּלְקַדֵּשׁ אֶת הַתִּינוֹק עַל יְדֵי מִצְוַת מִילָה, וְיִהְיֶה נִמְשָׁךְ עָלָיו צֶלֶם אֱלהִים, צֶלֶם דְּמוּת תַּבְנִיתוֹ, וְיִזְכֶּה. לִהְיוֹת שׁוֹמֵר הַבְּרִית בֶּאֱמֶת וְלא יִפְגּם בִּבְרִיתוֹ לְעוֹלָם, וְיֵלְכוּ יוֹנְקוֹתָיו, וְיִזְכֶּה לְהוֹלִיד בָּנִים וּבָנוֹת חָיִּים וְקַיָּמִים לַעֲבוֹדָתֶךָ וּלְיִרְאָתֶךָ וְיֵצְאוּ מִכָּל אֶחָד מִיִּשְׂרָאֵל דּוֹרוֹת הַרְבֵּה עַד סוֹף כָּל הַדּוֹרוֹת, וְכֻלָּם יַכִּירוּ וְיֵדְעוּ אֶת שִׁמְךָ הַגָּדוֹל, וְיַעֲשׂוּ רְצוֹנְךָ בֶּאֱמֶת כָּל יְמֵיהֶם לְעוֹלָם, לְמַעַן יִתְגַּלֶּה אֱלהוּתְךָ בְּכָל הָעוֹלָמוֹת עַל יְדֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל עַמְּךָ אֲשֶׁר בָּהֶם בָּחָרְתָּ

And have mercy on all the children of your people, the House of Israel, who enter the covenant of Abraham our father, and arrange for all of them at all times kosher, fit, skilled and agile mohelim in truth, in a way that they will fulfill the mitzvah of milah and priya with perfection as it is Your good will, because you sanctified your comrade from the womb, and his offspring you affixed with the sign of the covenant, and you commanded us with your Compassion to circumcise our sons of eight days, to enter them into the covenant of Abraham our father, therefore help us and give us merit, and arrange for us always kosher, fit, skilled and worthy mohelim to take part in this awesome mitzvah, and stand by their right and support them, that they will benefit and not harm G-d forbid the circumcised infant, only perform all the tikkunim and holiness that they need to perform and sanctify the infant through the mitzvah of milah, and that there be drawn upon him the image of God (tzelem elohim), the image of His character, and that he merit to guard the covenant in truth and not damage his covenant ever, and that his infants will go on and merit to give birth to living sons and daughters who exist to serve and fear You, and that out of every one of Israel come many generations until the end of all the generations, and that all will come to know your Great Name and will do Your will truthfully, all the days of their life, forever, so that Your godliness is revealed in all the worlds by Israel Your people, who you chose from among all the worlds


Also, I wanted to add that the San Francisco/East Bay Jewish community was blessed by a holy, humble tzaddik who was also a mohel, Rabbi Chanan Feld. Rabbi Feld performed hundreds (if not thousands) of brises around the state for many years, and was a unique phenomenon like none other. He was at once steeped in Torah and mitzvot and a student of revealed and hidden Torah, and also a presence that inspired appreciation and respect for Judaism among the extremely diverse and largely assimilated Jewish community of Northern California. Shortly before his eldest bore his first son, Rabbi Feld fought a rough battle with cancer, and at the end of 2009, a gem was lost to both his family and the entire Jewish community. I can't help but think that the fight against circumcision is related in some way to the loss of this tzaddik, a figure whose sweetness and love of Hashem poured into his interactions with all Jews, and demonstrated the true spirit of milah, so far from how it is being portrayed in the recent campaign. May the soul of Chanan Velvel Simcha ben Eliyahu be bound up in eternal life with Hashem, and may he pray along with us in shamayim, that in the wake of their troubles that all yidden from the area consider making aliyah, and that all enemies of the Jewish people vanish!

עצו עצה ותופר דברו דבר ולא יקום כי עמנו אל
Contrive a scheme, but it will be foiled; conspire a plot, but it will not materialize, for G-d is with us (Isaiah 8)

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