BERLIN — Israel’s Chief Rabbinate issued a letter to Berlin’s Chabad rabbi upholding the importance of a controversial circumcision rite, metzitzah b’peh.
The Berlin rabbi, Yehudah Teichtal, is the subject of a complaint by anti-circumcision activists for allegedly allowing the rite to be performed last month on his newborn son. The complainants argue that metzitzah b’peh, in which blood is sucked orally from the circumcision wound, violates German laws regulating circumcision. Rabbi Teichtal has neither confirmed nor denied that metzitzah b’peh was performed at his son’s bris.
Rabbi Moshe Morsiano, chair of the division of circumcision for the Chief Rabbinate of Israel, said in his letter dated April 22 that there is no justification for avoiding metzitzah b’peh, “unless the mohel has a sore in his mouth, or some infectious disease.”
The Jewish legal opinion came from Rabbi Morsiano after the complaint was lodged against Rabbi Teichtal. Berlin’s state prosecutor is looking into the merits of the complaint.
Germany adopted a new law regulating ritual circumcision last December. The law requires that the procedure be done to the highest possible medical standards.
Metzitzah b’peh has come under fire from many Jewish groups, including modern Orthodox associations, due to the possible spread of infections that can be fatal to an infant. Opponents recommend the use of a glass pipette in place of direct oral suction.