Wednesday, February 02, 2005

I'D LIKE A BRIS-KIT ON WRY

I don't even know where to start with this story from the Daily News:

City health officials are investigating whether a baby boy died after contracting herpes from the rabbi who circumcised him, the Daily News has learned. The probe was launched after city officials realized that three infants in the city who tested positive for herpes last year all were circumcised by Rabbi Yitzchok Fischer. The Rockland County-based Fischer is a prominent mohel - someone who performs religious circumcisions.

I appreciate the Daily News' attempt at defining mohel. But I kind of feel like if you don't know what a mohel is, maybe you're not really a New Yorker. Or maybe you never saw an episode of Seinfeld.

Under Jewish law, a mohel is supposed to draw blood from the circumcision wound to remove impurities. While many mohels do it by hand, Fischer uses a practice little known outside ultra-Orthodox communities called metzizah bi peh, in which the mohel uses his mouth.

FWIW, I have never heard of this practice, but I know precious little about the mechanics of circumcisions. And I like to keep it that way. (Need-to-know basis: And I don't need to know.)

Hebrew lesson
The word metzitzah means "sucking." Not as in "this Dawson's Creek storyline is really sucking," as in "I gave the baby a motzetz (pacifier) so that when I'm not nursing he can still have the comfort of metzitzah." Bi peh, or more correctly (I think) ba'peh, means "by mouth" or "orally." (I'm gonna go with "ugh.")

Medical lesson
There are actually a number of herpesviruses. (Click here for a list and some pretty gross pictures that should tell you why medical school wasn't part of your professional plan.)

Herpesviruses are extremely common and around 100 have been identified in a variety of animal species. All of the herpesviruses are members of one family, the Herpesviridae, and have certain characteristics in common, such as their ability to establish latency during primary infection. This means that following initial infection the virus remains dormant, to be reactivated by certain triggers such as an individual’s immune status, stress or sunlight.

Only 8 of these viruses have been identified in humans. This list includes varicella zoster*, which causes chickenpox and shingles, and Epstein-Barr, which can often lead to infectious mononucleosis. I already knew this because when my old roommate got mono, I loved to tease her by telling her she had herpes. (It was way funny at the time. By the time I got mono four years later, the comedy had expired.)

But back to the story...my point is that we all assume that "herpes" means "genital herpes." And it may not. That's all I'm saying. The only thing funny about this story is the headline to this post. And even that, I freely admit, is more cringeworthy than funny.

As if parents of newborn Jewish boys didn't have enough to worry about...

UPDATE: A medical abstract about this custom....



*I can't swear to this, but I seem to recall a member of my parents' shul was named Varicella Zoster. It's quite a beautiful name, actually. I'll add it to my shortlist of baby names for my yet-to-be-conceived children. (Her Hebrew name will probably be "Vered" or "Varda.")

7 Comments:

At 5:53 PM, February 02, 2005, Blogger Ken Wheaton said...

Okay. I don't know if I can bring myself to read the details, here. But that's the best post headline ever. F-ckin hilarious.

Mmmmmm, brisket.

 
At 7:57 PM, February 03, 2005, Blogger Lyss said...

I've actually heard of that 'method' of drawing the blood during a bris. (Amazing the stuff you retain sometimes....).

I am also embarassed that the offending moyhel is from Rockland County.

 
At 9:15 PM, February 24, 2005, Blogger kinsmancove said...

First of all metzitzah does not translate as "sucking." Throughout the talmud it used to mean "drawing" or "absorbing." If you really want to understand this technique that was medically necessary for over 3,000 years, you need to read the new article at www.towardtradition.org, titled "Life or Death? Circumcision, Herpes, and AIDS"

Comment based on knoweledge.

 
At 8:19 PM, May 01, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Herpes is not something to joke about. And you're a bitch.

 
At 3:09 PM, May 13, 2005, Anonymous Peter Ambien said...

To sleep Ambien online.
Order cheap Ambien Pills with Zoldipem tartrate

 
At 10:36 PM, July 03, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are cruel and unfunny.

By the way, the rabbi infected the babies with herpes simplex virus type 1.

(See: http://jewishwhistleblower.blogspot.com/2005/03/rav-moshe-tendler-on-siyum-hashas.html)

 
At 10:43 PM, July 03, 2005, Blogger Esther Kustanowitz said...

Oh, Anonymouses. If you only knew me, you'd know that I am neither cruel nor a bitch. But you choose to "know me" based on one post that was clearly offered as a joke--I had never EVER heard of metzitzah b'peh, even after 14 years of yeshiva.

You may not find this post funny, which is fine. And all links that help explain this are of course welcome. But cruel? Come on. Write letters to Saturday Night Live or The Daily Show at tell them off, too--they're crueler, and not always funnier.

 

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My Urban Kvetch: I'D LIKE A BRIS-KIT ON WRY

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

I'D LIKE A BRIS-KIT ON WRY

I don't even know where to start with this story from the Daily News:

City health officials are investigating whether a baby boy died after contracting herpes from the rabbi who circumcised him, the Daily News has learned. The probe was launched after city officials realized that three infants in the city who tested positive for herpes last year all were circumcised by Rabbi Yitzchok Fischer. The Rockland County-based Fischer is a prominent mohel - someone who performs religious circumcisions.

I appreciate the Daily News' attempt at defining mohel. But I kind of feel like if you don't know what a mohel is, maybe you're not really a New Yorker. Or maybe you never saw an episode of Seinfeld.

Under Jewish law, a mohel is supposed to draw blood from the circumcision wound to remove impurities. While many mohels do it by hand, Fischer uses a practice little known outside ultra-Orthodox communities called metzizah bi peh, in which the mohel uses his mouth.

FWIW, I have never heard of this practice, but I know precious little about the mechanics of circumcisions. And I like to keep it that way. (Need-to-know basis: And I don't need to know.)

Hebrew lesson
The word metzitzah means "sucking." Not as in "this Dawson's Creek storyline is really sucking," as in "I gave the baby a motzetz (pacifier) so that when I'm not nursing he can still have the comfort of metzitzah." Bi peh, or more correctly (I think) ba'peh, means "by mouth" or "orally." (I'm gonna go with "ugh.")

Medical lesson
There are actually a number of herpesviruses. (Click here for a list and some pretty gross pictures that should tell you why medical school wasn't part of your professional plan.)

Herpesviruses are extremely common and around 100 have been identified in a variety of animal species. All of the herpesviruses are members of one family, the Herpesviridae, and have certain characteristics in common, such as their ability to establish latency during primary infection. This means that following initial infection the virus remains dormant, to be reactivated by certain triggers such as an individual’s immune status, stress or sunlight.

Only 8 of these viruses have been identified in humans. This list includes varicella zoster*, which causes chickenpox and shingles, and Epstein-Barr, which can often lead to infectious mononucleosis. I already knew this because when my old roommate got mono, I loved to tease her by telling her she had herpes. (It was way funny at the time. By the time I got mono four years later, the comedy had expired.)

But back to the story...my point is that we all assume that "herpes" means "genital herpes." And it may not. That's all I'm saying. The only thing funny about this story is the headline to this post. And even that, I freely admit, is more cringeworthy than funny.

As if parents of newborn Jewish boys didn't have enough to worry about...

UPDATE: A medical abstract about this custom....



*I can't swear to this, but I seem to recall a member of my parents' shul was named Varicella Zoster. It's quite a beautiful name, actually. I'll add it to my shortlist of baby names for my yet-to-be-conceived children. (Her Hebrew name will probably be "Vered" or "Varda.")

7 Comments:

At 5:53 PM, February 02, 2005, Blogger Ken Wheaton said...

Okay. I don't know if I can bring myself to read the details, here. But that's the best post headline ever. F-ckin hilarious.

Mmmmmm, brisket.

 
At 7:57 PM, February 03, 2005, Blogger Lyss said...

I've actually heard of that 'method' of drawing the blood during a bris. (Amazing the stuff you retain sometimes....).

I am also embarassed that the offending moyhel is from Rockland County.

 
At 9:15 PM, February 24, 2005, Blogger kinsmancove said...

First of all metzitzah does not translate as "sucking." Throughout the talmud it used to mean "drawing" or "absorbing." If you really want to understand this technique that was medically necessary for over 3,000 years, you need to read the new article at www.towardtradition.org, titled "Life or Death? Circumcision, Herpes, and AIDS"

Comment based on knoweledge.

 
At 8:19 PM, May 01, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Herpes is not something to joke about. And you're a bitch.

 
At 3:09 PM, May 13, 2005, Anonymous Peter Ambien said...

To sleep Ambien online.
Order cheap Ambien Pills with Zoldipem tartrate

 
At 10:36 PM, July 03, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are cruel and unfunny.

By the way, the rabbi infected the babies with herpes simplex virus type 1.

(See: http://jewishwhistleblower.blogspot.com/2005/03/rav-moshe-tendler-on-siyum-hashas.html)

 
At 10:43 PM, July 03, 2005, Blogger Esther Kustanowitz said...

Oh, Anonymouses. If you only knew me, you'd know that I am neither cruel nor a bitch. But you choose to "know me" based on one post that was clearly offered as a joke--I had never EVER heard of metzitzah b'peh, even after 14 years of yeshiva.

You may not find this post funny, which is fine. And all links that help explain this are of course welcome. But cruel? Come on. Write letters to Saturday Night Live or The Daily Show at tell them off, too--they're crueler, and not always funnier.

 

Post a Comment

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