The national consensus on the mutilation of every newborn male
The main element at play regarding circumcision is the majority rule. This rule can only be broken by regulation from above. Not from heaven, which is too far from our reach, but from the governing power - a leader with inspiration who isn't afraid of breaking consensus and slaughtering (pardon the disgusting expression) holy cows.
It's an irony of fate that the Germans, of all people, are calling us to order in Jewish matters. It's an irony of fate that they are the ones telling us the religious precept, which even complete heretics among us keep without blinking an eye, is a barbaric, primitive act, not to say a violation of the law.
If Eli Yishai, the emissary of God, is demanding of the German government "in the name of the divine command," to cancel the diktat to ban circumcision - it's self evident. For who is more suitable than the great Shas commissar to be the latter day Mattathias-the-Hasmonean and dare to defy the wicked King Antiochus?
But I'm surprised at President Shimon Peres, perhaps the last humanist statesman. Why doesn't he take the opportunity to break this frozen mindset and challenge the halakhic primitivism Yishai so clearly represents? Why did Peres, of all people, have to go to his German colleague like the lobbyist of a dark religion interceding with an enlightened ruler?
What disaster would have befallen had the president turned to us, his flock, and asked us to reconsider the automatic sacrifice of every Jewish male on the circumcisers' altar? I too had to go through most of my life and two male sons before I acknowledged the sin of circumcision, which I committed light-headedly.
If we think rationally for one moment, why should the Germans - and the Swiss who followed their lead, or any other Western state - allow a Jewish rabbi to perform a surgical act forbidden to anyone else who isn't a doctor? What chutzpah on our part to ask for ourselves a privilege that is a blatant infraction of the law, which is intended to protect people from various charlatans.
This whole affair, triggered by a court somewhere in the federal republic following a circumciser's severe failure, forces us to face one of the most peculiar occurrences in Israeli life. No other state in the world, perhaps, displays such extreme polarity between outrageous clericalism and defiant secularism. Yet the one thing uniting everyone here, almost with no cracks in the wall, is the national consensus for the mutilation (whose benefit to health is questionable) of every newborn male.
What does that say about us exactly? One can hardly suspect people who eat abominable non-kosher animals and abhor religion and rabbis of saluting automatically to this divine command. It's hard to believe their sons' sexual organ suddenly turns them into God-fearing believers. It's a mystery, whose answer lies with the psychology sages.
From this aspect there is no doubt whatsoever that the main element at play is the majority rule. This rule can only be broken by regulation from above. Not from heaven, which is too far from our reach, but from the governing power - a leader with inspiration who isn't afraid of breaking consensus and slaughtering (pardon the disgusting expression ) holy cows.
In the absence of a convention-breaking Torah authority, only an enlightened president, who is no longer courting any rabbi and any vote, could stimulate thought and debate on this issue. If he did so, it would leave a deeper imprint than any of his political statements on current affairs.