Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Rambam and Circumcision

For those of you who are interested in Rambam's ideas regarding circumcision you can find some of them listed at this website. It seems like he favors the idea that it decreases sexual pleasure as the primary reason


THE GUIDE OF THE PERPLEXED by Moses Maimonides, translated by Shlomo Pines. University of Chicago, 1963.

Part III, Chapter 49

Page 609:

Similarly with regard to circumcision, one of the reasons for it is, in my opinion, the wish to bring about a decrease in sexual intercourse and a weakening of the organ in question, so that this activity be diminished and the organ be in as quiet a state as possible. It has been thought that circumcision perfects what is defective congenitally. This gave the possibility to everyone to raise an objection and to say: How can natural things be defective so that they need to be perfected from outside, all the more because we know how useful the foreskin is for that member? In fact this commandment has not been prescribed with a view to perfecting what is defective congenitally, but to perfecting what is defective morally. The bodily pain caused to that member is the real purpose of circumcision. None of the activities necessary for the preservation of the individual is harmed thereby, nor is procreation rendered impossible, but violent concupiscence and lust that goes beyond what is needed are diminished. The fact that circumcision weakens the faculty of sexual excitement and sometimes perhaps diminishes the pleasure is indubitable. For if at birth this member has been made to bleed and has had its covering taken away from it, it must indubitably be weakened. The Sages, may their memory be blessed, have explicitly stated: It is hard for a woman with whom an uncircumcised man has had sexual intercourse to separate from him. In my opinion this is the strongest of the reasons for circumcision.

6 Comments:

Blogger Jewish Atheist said...

Wow.

4:10 PM  
Blogger FedUp said...

Great to see you back on the blogs!

7:03 PM  
Blogger rebecca said...

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9:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I invite you to take any claim that women derive more enjoyment from an uncircumcised penis with a liberal dose of salt. I read O'Hara's questionnaire, and refused to answer it because it was such a shoddy social science research instrument. I also know, and cannot approve of, the ways she solicited respondents.

The only way to do research of this nature is to select interview subjects at random, making sure that the age and racial composition of the sample matches that of the overall population. Strategies will have to be devised to minimize the nontrivial response rate. After all, just how many demur middle aged women are going to cooperate with a polite stranger asking them "Have you had intercourse with both circumcised and uncircumcised men, and if so, would you please compare the two experiences?"

BTW, the movement opposing American routine infant circumcision frequently quotes the Rambam (hoping to deflect the accusation of antisemitism), but never quotes Freud's "Moses and Monotheism"!

During the past 10 odd years, a few secular Israeli families have begun dispensing with bris. Preschool teachers have told interested parents that their classes nowadays typically include 1-2 intact boys.

Are you aware that many secular European Jews quietly stopped circumcising after WWII, in good part because of the fear of another holocaust? European Jews also fear that their sons will become the target of antisemitic jibes in locker rooms. This fear is unfounded:

*There now are circumcised Moslems in every locker room in Europe;

*About 3-5% of European goys are now circumcised for a medical reason or out of pure preference (viewing USA porn has consequences...);

*It turns out that about 5% of uncircumcised adults have foreskins so short they look circumcised.

3:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I invite you to take any claim that women derive more enjoyment from an uncircumcised penis with a liberal dose of salt. I read O'Hara's questionnaire, and refused to answer it because it was such a shoddy social science research instrument. I also know, and cannot approve of, the ways she solicited respondents."

Unfortunately YOUR opinion was not shared with the peer review board.. AND it seems you choose to ignore this caveat:

"While this study shows clearly that women prefer the surgically unaltered penis, it does have shortcomings. The respondents were not selected randomly and several were recruited using a newsletter of an anti-circumcision organization. However, when the responses from respondents gathered from the mailing list of the anti-circumcision organization were compared with those of the other respondents, there were no differences. This selection bias may be compensated to the degree that each respondent acted as her own control, using her subjective criteria on both types of penises. The findings cannot be completely attributed to selection bias.

3:12 PM  
Anonymous Yeoman Roman said...

"The findings cannot be completely attributed to selection bias."

See, O'Hara was reasonable, and careful in her conclusions.

Miss "Anonymous" dismisses O'Hara out of hand without even knowing what her conclusions were or that that she was careful about them.

I guess for Anonymous, it is better to be rigorously ignorant, than actually learn something even if it is difficult to get the data.

8:02 AM  

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