Monday, October 12, 2015

METZITZAH B'PEH and the response of Moroccan Rabbis תקנות מועצת הרבנים במרוקו בענין מציצה בפה

In 1952 (סיון תשי"ב), the annual conference of Moroccan Rabbis took place in Rabat, with nearly all the leading Rabbis of the day attending. Attendees included Rabbi Shaul Ibn Danan, R. Refael Baruch Toledano, R. Machlouf Abuhetzera, R. David Ovadia, R. Yehoshua Maman, R. Yedidya Monsenego, R. Ahron Hasin and many other familiar names. Many issues of the day were discussed and many new enactments were agreed upon and imposed. Buried between the decisions reached I came across a replica of the scenario which has been unfolding in recent years on the issue of metzitzah b'peh or MBP as it has come to be referred to, with strikingly different responses.

List of decisions by the Rabbinical Assembly

List of participating Rabbis from all major cities and geographical areas of Morocco

Here is the text of the Takanot regarding MBP that were unanimously agreed upon by all participating Rabbis:
רבותי!  תורתנו הקדושה הזהירה באזהרה חזקה ונשמרתם מאד לנפשותיכם. בא הכתוב לחייב את האדם בשמירת הגויה לבל לאונה כל רע מגרם הנזקין המצויים בתולדות הטבע. וגם במצוותיה אמרה תורה אשר יעשה אותם האדם וחי בהם
בכן חובתינו להתעסק בענינים כאלה ומה גם בזמננו זה
המצוה הגדולה מיסודי הדת היא המילה שצריכה להיות טהורה מאף שמץ לא טוב. ז"א ככל חוקות משפטה ובכל אופן טהרה של שמירת הבריאות
על כן צריך שהמוהל יהיה בקי בדיני המילה וטהור בכל משמרת עבודתו
גם עבודה זו הקדושה והטהורה צריכה להיות תחת השגחה עליונה המפקחת על המוהלים בכל הענין ולא יהיה ילדי ישראל כדגי הים נתונים ביד כל אוחז איזמיל
ואין אני צריך להזכיר לפני רו"מ המאורעות הרעים אשר קרו על ידי המוהלים אשר לא מומחים וגם על ידי אי נקיות כי אין בזה שום תועלת רק העיקר הוא להשגיח ולתקן בהעתיד. ועל העבר אנו מתודים ואומרים כפר לעמך ישראל אשר פדית ה והקב"ה הבטיחנו ונכפר להם הדם
על כן אני דורש מכת"ר הסכמה על הפרטים שנזכיר הלאה אם נראו בעיני רבותי:

א. כל מוהל אף הנוכחים צריך לקבל תעודת רופא המאשרת שאין בו כל חולי המתדבק ומידי שנה בשנה תהיה בדיקה זו
ב. גם חובתו לקבל שיעורים באופני הנקיות לכל צרכי המילה בין בנקיון ידיו בין בכיליו בין בידיעת שמירת כל הנזקים הנמשכים גם אחר המילה
ג. למוד ידיעתו זאת והרגלו יהיה לו בחברת אוזי או בבית חולים צבורי
ד. חובתו להשתמש בידיעותיו אלה כאשר ישיתו עליו הרופאים הנזכרים
ה. גם צריך לקבל ידיעה בדיני המילה בתעודה מאת ביה"ד המחוזי
ו. המוהל צריך שיבקר את הילד קודם המולו וגם אחרי כן
ז. המוהל צריך לקבל תעודה מאת מוהל מומחה מפורסם
ח. המוהלים שבעיר יערכו אסיפה באולם ביה"ד או הדומ"ץ וימנו את המומחה שיהיה בהסכמת בראב"ד או הדומ"צ
ט. כל מוהל שהפסיק מעבודתו שתי שנים רצופות צריך תעודה חדשה
י. חולה חלוש הראיה או מרתת לא יכול למול
יא. המציצה תהיה בכלי ולא בפה
יב. כל מוהל שלא עשה המציצה מעבירים אותו
יג. המוהלים המוסמכים אל ימנעו עצמם מללמד אחרים כדי שיאמר עליהם זכר צדיק לברכה
יד. המתחנך יכול למול לפני המוסמך בהשגחתו עליו
טו. ההשגחה העליונה על המוהלים בדבר התעודות ובדבר הנקיות ובשמירת כל החוקים חובתה על ביה"ד או הדיין חבר העיר
טז. המוהלים המוסמכים שקבלו תעודותיהם לכל עניני המילה ככל האמור יהיו רשומים בב"ד ובבתי כנסיות להודיע לכל העם
  יז. המכשירים לכל צרכי המילה וכל ההוצאות הצריכות יהיו מקופת הקהלה

הכל נתקבל בהסכמה

loosely translates as:
My Rabbis ! Our holy Torah has strongly warned us, thou shall be very careful with your souls, obligating us to protect our bodies that no harm shall befall it from any harmful possibilities by nature, and even in regards to our Mitzvoth, the Torah says, you shall do them and live through their doing.
It is thus our obligation to involve ourselves with such matters, even in these days.
The commandment to circumcise our children is of the fundamentals of our faith, and needs to be done purely, with no flaws, which includes no imperfections in the matters of health.
It is thus incumbent on all Mohalim to familiarize themselves with all the laws of circumcision and hygiene in all his work.
This work also has to be supervised by a body that will supervise all the Mohalim in all matters, and we shall not leave the children of the Jews to be like fish and leave their fate in the hands of any man who possesses a chisel.
There is no need for me to mention the unfortunate disasters that occurred due to Mohalim who were not experts or not done under sanitary conditions, as it is of no use, the main thing is to perfect and correct for the future. On the past we confess and request that God forgives us..
I thus request from you esteemed Rabbis, to agree on the following conditions and that they find favor in your eyes:
1. Any Mohel, including present ones, need to receive a certification from a doctor that confirms that he has no infectious illness, this certification shall be renewed yearly.
2. The Mohel is required to take lessons on the methods of hygiene, both in his hands and in his vessels, as well as any medical issues that may arise after a circumcision
3. The Mohel shall receive his training in any public hospital
4. It is the obligation of the Mohel to use the knowledge obtained during these lessons
5. The Mohel needs to be trained in the Halachot relating to Milah as well, from the local Rabbinical Court
6. The Mohel is obligated to visit the infant before as well as after the circumcision
7. Every Mohel needs to receive certification from an accepted and well-known Mohel
8. The Mohalim in every city shall gather and appoint one of the Mohalim to head and inspect the Mohalim in his district
9. If a Mohel does not work for 2 years, he needs to be retrained
10. One who is ill, with poor eyesight or with trembling hands, can not perform a Milah
11. Metzitah shall be with a vessel and not done with the mouth
12. Any Mohel who does not perform metzitzah shall be removed from his position
13. Trained Mohalim are encouraged to train new Mohalim
14. Students learning Milah can perform with a certified Mohel present
15. The ultimate authority regarding certification etc is in the hands of the local Rabbinical Court.
16, All registered and certified Mohalim shall be listed at the Bet Din and the list made common knowledge
17. All utensils used in the Milah shall come from the community funds.

All the above was unanimously agreed upon by all.

discussion and Takanot regarding MBP

discussion and Takanot regarding MBP
Magen Avot of Rabbi Levhar regarding the position of Moroccan Rabbis to Metzitzah B'peh

Magen Avot of Rabbi Levhar regarding the position of Moroccan Rabbis to Metzitzah B'peh

This same year many other important enactments were enacted, including equating both sexes in all laws of inheritance, including married women. This issue evoked a sharp differing response from the Israeli Rabbinate. The Beginning of the publication also describes the dire situation regarding the lack of available books in Morocco, and the many organizations that have attempted to assist them in this matter. You can read this section in full below:

On the inability to find Hebrew books in Morocco

On the inability to find Hebrew books in Morocco

R. SY Zevin, R. Nissan Waxman, Sefarim Criticism & More

by Jacob D.

One of the unique roles that R. Shlomo Yosef Zevin filled with his prolific pen was that of a sefarim critic par excellence. A new Torah publication hits bookstore shelves and there's a good chance that it will be thoroughly reviewed, analyzed, criticized or praised, by a Torah giant with a mind of encyclopedic breadth, in an upcoming Friday morning Hatzofe. R. Zevin took his "מן הספרות התלמודית" column seriously, and week after week Hatzofe readers can expect a new thorough and exciting Zevin review. Most of these reviews  were eventually collected and published in his three volume סופרים וספרים (Tel Aviv, 1959). Even in the most positive of reviews on works that he seems impressed with, we can expect the occasional -

...ויש להעיר שכבר קדמו בזה...

With that small introduction I would like to share something I just came across, which to me was a little bit of a surprise. During a recent stop at a used Hebrew  bookstore, a small attractive copy of R. Moshe Cordovero's תומר דבורה caught my eye​ -

It's a critical edition published in NY,1960 (5720) by R. Nissan Waxman.
(see here)

On the title page we see that aside for the actual work by Ramak, and what's directly related to it (notes, a biographical sketch of the author, etc.), there's an additional section appended at the end, titled קונטרס האהבה והחסד. In one part of that last section R. Waxman relates an explanation of a Midrash about  עקידת יצחק in the name of R. Hayim Soloveitchik of Brisk -

At the end of the piece we read that R. Waxman heard this from R. Menahem Krakowski, a Rabbi from Vilna and student of R. Hayim. R. Krakowski published this piece of his teacher's Torah in his ארזי לבנון -

See starting from the second to last paragraph of this page-

R. Waxman notes that this explanation from R. Hayim is also related by R. Zevin in his אישים ושיטות, and in his "העקידה" essay in his לאור ההלכה.

In לאור ההלכה -

W. adds that although Z. includes some additional halakhic material at the beginning of this piece that R. Krakowski didn't relate, he leaves out this last point -

which in R. Waxman's words is quote "לב הדבר ויפיו"! -

I'm not used to R. Zevin being on the receiving end of this kind of criticism. (I also found it kind of ironic that this "לב הדבר ויפיו" that W. felt Z. should've included sounds very much like a ​R. ​Levi Yitzch​a​k of Berditchev classic. Z. the Hasid (also the author of  סיפורי חסידים) doesn't include it, but does include some additional halakhic material. And W. the Litvak is complaining!)

In R. Zevin's defense I will say that his אישים ושיטות wasn't  written to simply  share the Torah of the ten great אישים that are discussed therein. It was written to dissect and define their very specific and distinct  Torah  methodology. Hence, this omission, which if included wouldn't anyhow help to define R. Hayim's method of study is perfectly sound (of course I do entertain the possibility that this part wasn't known altogether to R. Zevin). ​And this aggadic twist wouldn't exactly belong in his  לאור ההלכה​ either​. In לאור ההלכה R. Zevin begins this R. Hayim Torah with ​-​

גוון הלכתי מיוחד להעקדה נתן רב חיים סולוביצ'יק ז"ל יחד עם מדה עקרונית בדרכי הלימוד

An addition of this sort​, as beautiful as it may be,​ would hardly belong there. It does fit nicely in R. Waxman's addendum to a mussar work, and l​ikewise, it's totally befitting for this aggadic "לב הדבר ויפיו" to be included in R. Krakowski's קובץ דרשות.

Marginalia on the side of Hebrew Books in Arabic הגהות על ספר קדש בערבית

I recently came across what for me was a first, a Hebrew book, being the poems of Yehuda Alharizi, printed in Vienna in 1854, with marginalia in Arabic.

There is a title page in Hebrew and one in German as well. There are several stamps in the book of Rabbi Yaakov Attieh, who served as Chief Rabbi in Beirut, as well as the signature of Eliyahu Hai Sasson, the founder of the first Hebrew printing press in Syria, founded in 1865. Along with numerous marginalia in Hebrew, appear a few lengthy ones in Arabic.

Recent Acquisition: the Library of Rabbi Michael L. Abraham

partial view of  Rabbi Michael L. Abraham's library

Mizrahi Bookstore has recently acquired the collection of Rabbi Michael L. Abraham. Rabbi Abraham, after graduating from HUC served congregations in Blue Pell, PA, Norwalk Conn, Sommerville, NJ as well as "Chief Rabbi of New Zealand", where he served as Senior Rabbi of Temple Sinai in Wellington for six years. He passed away on Dec 14, 2013 aged 75.

Rabbi Abraham was that rare combination of a scholar and an active and successful pulpit Rabbi. His comprehensive library traveled with him throughout his life, with his library at the time being the largest Judaic Library in New Zealand. Nearly all important books on Bible Studies and Archaeology were present in his library, and nearly all with relevant book reviews inserted and with his marginalia and remarks alongside in his neat pencil writing. Every one of his books was fully cataloged and shelved systematically, many a public library would envy his perfect order in his books. תהי נשמתה צרורה בצרור החיים