Our New Daughter’s Name, Rimon Hadasa, OR, What Do Purim, Pesach, Circumcision, And Wood Skewers Have In Common?

Thank God, we have another daughter. Everyone is healthy and the birth went well, though there was a scare that turned out to be nothing in the end, caused by a broken monitor that had a team of doctors rush in to do an emergency C-section. But the midwives stopped that and got control of the situation, got a new monitor, everything was fine, and 10 minutes later she was born. I was sitting at home working when my parents called to say Natasha was in labor and I should get to the hospital. So I leisurely started putting on my shoes and was starting to head out. By the time I got to the car my father came around the corner and asked me how many pounds is 2.8kg.

“Huh?” I said, “Already??”

She came out fast. It was the first birth I actually missed, but it’s OK. It was a good thing I wasn’t there during the emergency C-section scare. I would have freaked out. My mother and mother in law handled it all pretty well.

We named her on Shabbat, Rimon Hadasa Farber רימון הדסה פרבר. Here’s the story and meanings behind it.

Natasha’s grandfather (poppy) Murray, משה בן אסתר, passed away last year. He was 90. About a day or two before he died, we found out that Natasha was pregnant. It was a surprise for us, but a pleasant one. It was way too early to tell anyone. We had just found out, but we decided to tell grandma and poppy anyway because we all knew he was slipping away and he should know before he died. So on his deathbed, through Skype, we told him that we would name the baby after him.

We wanted an ‘R’ and ‘M’ sound in the name for Murray, and picked Rimon, Hebrew for pomegranate. I myself am named for two great grandmothers Raizel and Feigle, hence the R and F in my own name, so we did a similar thing here. Hadasa, Rimon’s middle name, is Queen Esther’s Hebrew name. Esther was her Persian name.

We were quite hesitant about the name Rimon at first. We liked it personally and it sounds nice to an American ear, but we both knew that to an Israeli it sounds like “hand grenade” which is another modern meaning. That wouldn’t have been a problem by itself but we also have a daughter named Serach (שרח) which is a name I love because I love the character and the story behind her. She is Asher’s daughter, Jacob’s granddaughter, who is mentioned in the list of 70 people going down to Egypt in Breisheet and also coming out of Egypt in Bamidbar. According to some sources, she – not Ruth – is the first convert, adopted by Asher. Given that she’s mentioned both going in and coming out of Egypt, she lived at least 210 years, and some Midrashic sources say she never died.

Anyway, we call her Serri and she is beautiful, I mean really. Many times Israelis stare at her and tell me that, and then ask her name. And I say her name is שרח. Then what usually happens is that they correct me and say something like “In Hebrew it’s pronounced Sarah, not Serach.” And then I have to insist that her name is not Sarah, and that I know my daughter’s name, thank you very much. I’ve had to do this many times, and those are the easy encounters. At worst, they look at her, tell me she’s pretty, and ask me her name, I tell them שרח, and they say, “Why did you give her such an ugly name?” Those are the really “Israeli” Israelis.

See, in Hebrew, Serach sounds like מסריח , which means “stinky”. We knew this. It has absolutely nothing to do with the name though, and we weren’t going to let that stop us from giving her a name that we actually wanted and admired.

Anyway, two days after Rimon was born, before she was named, I was at the post office with Serri and the same thing happened. We were the only ones there and the two clerks, both women, commented that’s she’s pretty and asked her name. I tell them Serach. And again, they correct me and say it’s not pronounced Serach, it’s Sarah. And again I insist that I am not a stupid American who doesn’t know Hebrew, I know what my daughter’s name is, and her name is SERACH. Asher’s daughter. It’s in the Tanach, in Hebrew.

“How do you spell it, with a ה or a ח?” one of them asks.

“A ח. שרחחחחחח,” I emphasize and extend the ח.


“Yes, really.”

Then I made a mistake. They ask me if she has any other sisters. Absentmindedly I say that she just got a new sister two days ago.

“And what’s her new sister’s name?” they ask.

Not thinking, since you’re not supposed to tell people the name before the naming, I tell them “Rimon”. And they look at me weird, saying with their eyes, “Well here’s a crazy American naming his daughters ‘Stinky’ and ‘Hand Grenade,’ like one of those postmodern hippieish people who are into homeopathics and whatnot.“

A lesson – not telling people the name before the naming is important, because it can create doubts.

We were going to name her on Thursday but I didn’t wake up early enough for the 6:15 minyan, thinking that subconsciously maybe I was having second thoughts. So we thought it over again Natasha and I, and we decided, definitely Rimon. Here’s why.

I’m not the kind of person that looks into “signs from heaven”, but I don’t discount the possibility of them, or of God trying to tell me something, just an ordinary person. So the following I’ll just say that maybe God was trying to get me to name her Rimon, and maybe I’m just reading into things, but then these are pretty crazy coincidences. Interpret however makes you feel comfortable, but this all happened.

When we were first settling on Rimon, Natasha asked me where the word appears in the Torah. I remember it is featured a lot on the clothes of the Kohen Gadol, the High Priest, and remembered part of the verse describing his tunic because it repeats. פעמון ורימון פעמון ורימון are the words I remembered specifically, and that the pasuk must be in Tetzaveh or Pekudei, or both, which describe the whole priestly wardrobe. So I looked it up and sure enough, it’s there, in both places, slightly different in each place. Here’s the one from Pekudei:

וַיַּ֛עַשׂ אֶת־מְעִ֥יל הָאֵפֹ֖ד מַעֲשֵׂ֣ה אֹרֵ֑ג כְּלִ֖יל תְּכֵֽלֶת׃ וּפִֽי־הַמְּעִ֥יל בְּתוֹכ֖וֹ כְּפִ֣י תַחְרָ֑א שָׂפָ֥ה לְפִ֛יו סָבִ֖יב לֹ֥א יִקָּרֵֽעַ: וַֽיַּעֲשׂוּ֙ עַל־שׁוּלֵ֣י הַמְּעִ֔יל רִמּוֹנֵ֕י תְּכֵ֥לֶת וְאַרְגָּמָ֖ן וְתוֹלַ֣עַת שָׁנִ֑י מָשְׁזָֽר׃ וַיַּעֲשׂ֥וּ פַעֲמֹנֵ֖י זָהָ֣ב טָה֑וֹר וַיִּתְּנ֨וּ אֶת־הַפַּֽעֲמֹנִ֜ים בְּת֣וֹךְ הָרִמֹּנִ֗ים עַל־שׁוּלֵ֤י הַמְּעִיל֙ סָבִ֔יב בְּת֖וֹךְ הָרִמֹּנִֽים׃ פַּעֲמֹ֤ן וְרִמֹּן֙ פַּעֲמֹ֣ן וְרִמֹּ֔ן עַל־שׁוּלֵ֥י הַמְּעִ֖יל סָבִ֑יב לְשָׁרֵ֕ת כַּאֲשֶׁ֛ר צִוָּ֥ה יְהוָ֖ה אֶת־מֹשֶֽׁה׃

The robe for the ephod was made of woven work, of pure blue. The opening of the robe, in the middle of it, was like the opening of a coat of mail, with a binding around the opening, so that it would not tear. On the hem of the robe they made pomegranates of blue, purple, and crimson yarns, twisted. They also made bells of pure gold, and attached the bells between the pomegranates, all around the hem of the robe, between the pomegranates: a bell and a pomegranate, a bell and a pomegranate, all around the hem of the robe for officiating in—as God had commanded Moses.

Now, about two weeks before she was born, when we were already mostly set on Rimon but I was still having some doubts, our community was honoring the חברה קדישא, the “Holy Gang,” volunteers who clean and dress the dead for burial. Thanks to my friend Ezra, I am on the Chevreh Kadisha. The week the shul was honoring the Chevreh was Parashat Pekudei, the Parasha about the Cohen Gadol’s clothing. They gave me שלישי, the third Aliyah, which begins with that exact passage about pomegranates and bells all around the Kohen Gadol. In no other place in the Torah does the word Rimon appear so frequently, five times in three psukim! I am imagining that God is ringing off the pomegranate bells that this is her name. Ding ding! Use it! פעמון ורימון פעמון ורימון OK OK I get the point!

But it didn’t stop there. Thursday night the next week, our parents are both with us helping to watch the kids, waiting for Natasha to give birth. The city is hosting a dinner at a nice restaurant for the Chevreh Kadisha and their spouses, and Natasha and I finally get to go out on a date to a nice restaurant without the kids thanks to our parents.

We go out to the “Chevreh Kadisha Party” and they present a gift to each person on the Chevrah Kadisha. It’s a cutting board. Here’s a picture of it:

Pomegranate Cutting Board

Rimonim all over the place. I get the point. Her name is Rimon. Rimon is coming.

The pomegranate has plenty of Halachic and religious significance. It’s the fifth fruit of the 7 Biblical fruits of Israel, which is the most well known aspect of the rimon. I won’t go into everything here, but there is one obscure importance to pomegranates that most people are not familiar with. Mishnah, Psachim 7:1

כֵּיצַד צוֹלִין אֶת הַפֶּסַח, מְבִיאִין שַׁפּוּד שֶׁל רִמּוֹן, תּוֹחֲבוֹ מִתּוֹךְ פִּיו עַד בֵּית נְקוּבָתוֹ, וְנוֹתֵן אֶת כְּרָעָיו וְאֶת בְּנֵי מֵעָיו לְתוֹכוֹ, דִּבְרֵי רַבִּי יוֹסֵי הַגְּלִילִי. רַבִּי עֲקִיבָא אוֹמֵר, כְּמִין בִּשּׁוּל הוּא זֶה, אֶלָּא תוֹלִין חוּצָה לוֹ

How is the Pesach offering roasted? We bring a skewer of pomegranate wood and stick it into the mouth and through the anus, and place its legs and entrails inside of it according to Rabbi Yosi Haglili. Rabbi Akiva says “This would be a kind of boiling. Instead we hang the entrails outside of it.”

Why pomegranate wood? Because the lamb must be entirely roasted by fire, and not by a material that the fire heats up, like a skewer. So we can’t use a metal skewer, which would get too hot and cook the meat that was in direct contact with the skewer. We also can’t use just any wood, because wood tends to sweat moisture when heated, and the escaping water would boil the meat at the point of contact rather than the fire roasting it. So pomegranate wood specifically is used because pomegranate wood is dryer than other woods and doesn’t sweat when heated.

Now, consider this. Every Pesach sacrifice needs a fairly long pomegranate wood skewer. That’s a lot of skewers. What must that have been like? Well, on Succot in Israel there these big open markets of the four species lulav, etrog, hadas, and arava and there are different kinds, different levels. Mehudar (pretty), super mehudar (super pretty), plain kosher, really big etrogs for those who want an extra beautiful one, etc. Hiddur mitzvah, getting the biggest and most beautiful, is a big thing with the four species. People are really into it. I’ve even seen a guy with what must have been at least a 10 foot long lulav. (Haha, yeah yeah, laugh it out.)

Imagine what Pesach would have looked like during the time of the Beit HaMikdash when everybody did the Korban Pesach. There must have been huge markets selling long sticks of pomegranate wood, some of them decorated maybe, carved with shapes in them, maybe pomegranates, plain kosher, mehudar, super mehudar, all that stuff. These things were probably given as gifts also. I can imagine in people’s homes at that time beautiful decorated pomegranate skewers for each Korban Pesach hung up on walls and such, one for each year, burnt edges, clean middle. This is what Pesach would have actually looked like, and very few people are aware of it, that pomegranate wood skewers were such a big part of the Passover holiday. The pomegranate to this day remains a very popular decoration in shuls and Jewish homes. (Cutting board case in point.)

Essentially, you cannot do the mitzvah of Korban Pesach correctly without a skewer of pomegranate wood. It’s there in the middle of it all, hanging it all up, stabilizing the whole animal, but not influencing or interfering with the process of the roasting at all. It knows its place. Unassuming, humble, but central to the whole mitzvah. Doing its part by staying cool, not sweating, and letting what needs to be done, get done, so the mitzvah can be completed. I hope Rimon ends up being just like that.

One last thought. We have one son, Efraim. We call him Fry. I struggled doing a brit milah (circumcision) on him, because that violates the non aggression principle, the holy of holies of libertarian halacha. This is what I wrote about that:

And in the end, Judaism forces me to be a minarchist, of a sort. To draw a line from my own personhood instead of from something outside myself. To have just a little intuition of my own. I circumcised my son without his consent, and thereby broke the NAP, the holy of holies of libertarian law. I hated it. I cried. And then even I, the uncontrollable libertarian radical teeming with hatred of the State, drew a line from within to circumscribe power. I did, and will do brit milah, and that’s it. I can’t explain why in any logical terms other than God told me to. And I will not go any further than that into the realm of power over other men. Not ever. Not one inch.

I didn’t want someone else to be my messenger for an act that I found problematic. It felt cowardly, so I did the cut myself. (The mohel did the setup obviously. I just did the cut.) After that, though maybe I shouldn’t have in retrospect, I asked God not to give me another boy because I just didn’t want to do that again. (Yes, I would have done it again if it came to that.) I only circumcised because I believe God told me to do it. That’s it.

What does this have to do with Rimon? Well, there are only two positive mitzvahs that failure to do them results in Karet, spiritual excision from the Jewish people. Very bad punishment though I don’t really know what it means. It’s just below the death penalty. One mitzvah is Brit Milah, circumcision. The other is Korban Pesach. They are both blood mitzvahs, the blood of circumcision, and the blood of the Pesach lamb that was smeared on the door posts in Pesach Mitzrayim. These two mitzvot tie the Jewish people to God in blood. This is what is referred to at a Brit in the pasuk בדמייך חיי, בדמייך חיי. By your blood you will live, by your blood you will live, repeated. One blood for circumcision, one blood for Korban Pesach.

Just like פעמון ורימון פעמון ורימון. A bell and a pomegranate, a bell and a pomegranate, all around the Kohen Gadol, who actually executes the Pesach sacrifice. I’ve done the first blood in Brit Milah. And we named Rimon after the second, and after Murray, and after Murray’s mother Esther, Hadasa.

To an Israeli ear, Rimon is a boy’s name, another reason we were initially hesitant to name her that. I know two women named Rimon though, so I knew it wasn’t exclusively a boy’s name. Perhaps though, the fact that it is seen as a boy’s name is appropriate in retrospect, since she is named after the Korban Pesach, the parallel to a Brit Milah.

Born between Purim and Pesach, she has a name related to both, Rimon Hadasa. Related to circumcision, related to Murray, משה בן אסתר, and related to the blood mitzvot that tie all Jews together and to God.

And there is no fruit juice more deeply blood red than the blood of a pomegranate. Another Jew has come into the world. Thank God.



Stop Bashing Muslim Countries and Look in the Mirror

I’ve never heard of Reza Aslan before, but he is awesome. His best points in this video:

3) Female genital mutilation, meaning cutting off the clitoral head, is a problem in Africa Christian countries, not Muslim countries. (Male genital mutilation, AKA circumcision, is discussed on this blog here and here. I am pro male circumcision and against female circumcision, and though that may be logically inconsistent to a degree, that’s the position I hold. For those who want to comment in defence of milah, yes I am fully aware that female circumcision is much more cruel than male.)

2) When somebody says “Muslim countries are bad” he really means Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan. The rest are on par with other Western States, more or less.

3) And this was the kicker: Saudi Arabia has beheaded more people in the name of Islam than ISIS. Yet the US bombs ISIS and pays Saudi Arabia. Why? Because of cheap oil. The US should be consistent, either bomb both Saudi Arabia and ISIS for beheading people in the name of Islam, or stop bombing everyone. Which would be my choice. That last part was mine. See the video. Absolutely awesome.

Chaim S. Responds on Circumcision and the Non Aggression Principle

In response to my post on circumcision being a violation of the NAP with accompanying Halachic proof from the case of a baby born circumcised, Chaim S. writes the following, references at bottom. I don’t agree with it all, but Chaim is obviously a knowledgeable libertarian and knows a bit about the halachic system. I make a few notes in bold. I think the core difference between me and him is that he believes, as I once did, the Platonist version of the Halachic system, which believes that there is an ultimate system at its peak and that we need to reconstruct it. I am more of a constructivist, which does not mean I am Conservative or Reform, but I do believe that Halacha is more bendy than he makes it out to be. My tendency is that anything in Halacha that violates the NAP I bend away, unless I really, really can’t, like circumcision. I believe this is legitimate halachically. He may not.

Anyway, here are his words:

Rafi says God commanded us to “violate it [the NAP] in the case of circumcision” [6]. On EPJ [2] you add: “I believe God has commanded me to follow the NAP in (almost) every other case I can think of”. I agree. But this cannot be compared to “Minarchy” – which you started off with [3].

The only acceptable Torah model is a zero state! There is a senate (Sanhedrin) and constitution (Torah), whose members must be accepted by the public, but these are purely religious, and so have delineated duties of ensuring the public welfare (physical and spiritual). This is equivalent to membership in a community with its own rules. I disagree with the nascent Sanhedrin’s political model [4]. There is no parliament nor mob rule, no congress nor dictatorship. “Theocracy” (as put by Josephus) is a neat description, but not in the Iranian sense of a clericalist dictatorship. See more on the democratic nature of criminal justice in Chazon Ish Yoreh Deah 2:16 (end). Law enforcement, to exist, must be regarded by all as excessively lenient.

By the way, while we suffer from a state in the meantime, we ought to fight to separate religion and state [5], for many reasons, but mainly so as to free religion from outside control (Yeshayahu Leibowitz).

The king (or quasi-king, like Moshe and the Shoftim), too, is but a religious figure (as proven by Hak’hel, etc.). His sole purpose is to ensure the Jewish people do not sin. Of course, a king is a necessary evil, anyway, including Moshiach, and his monarchy is a limited one. God forbid any secular statehood be considered legitimate, even after the coming of the Messiah, contra Satmar. Yes to Jewish sovereignty, as an autonomous society (Yad Yisrael tekifah); no to any form of coercive state.

Note, I am not saying one form of government is more prosperous or peaceful than another. We accept the yoke of the Torah with its obligations and prohibitions, and coercive taxation is always theft.

Rafi says [6] he will deviate “Up to here, and no further”. But Judaism and libertarianism diverge in other areas, as well. Both Judaism and libertarianism are prescriptive. How can they not be contradictory at times?

Indeed, there is a huge chasm between Natural-Rights (or Hoppean) libertarians and Jewish Libertarians. Our point of departure is that Judaism assumes freedom and non-aggression only as the approximate default position, to be continually re-examined on a case-by-case basis. The freedom philosophy must be subsumed under the “Derech Eretz” categorization of Torah law to have any validity whatsoever. Our Rabbis have many legalistic explanations as to why one may not trespass, steal or damage property. The non-aggression axiom or negative rights is the axiology behind much of monetary and war jurisprudence, but with many exceptions and divergent applications.

Property rights in one’s own person conflict with prohibitions against harming oneself (“את דמכם לנפשותיכם”), because the body is considered to be partly owned by God. God owns us, therefore we may not own Jewish slaves for too long, we may not commit suicide, “Evictionism” is even more wrong for Jews, and more.

Even our national ownership over the land of Israel is not without caveat, see here [7]. In truth, we are not “plumb-line libertarians” at all, but Jews who believe we have uncovered more of the true meaning of Judaism with the help of libertarian insights (as “Chochma” permissible for us to accept, but not as “Torah”).

[Why the “chauvinism” regarding the non-Jew? One may not remain a non-Jew. (Rafi’s note: I do not understand this point. One may of course remain a non Jew.) The courts try to discourage conversion, yes, but only because one must convert for the sake of Heaven. I stand with Yeshayahu Leibowitz in rejecting the supremacy of any manmade morality over the Omni-supremacy of Torah law (which has what to say about everything!).]

I am somewhat unsure about the conclusions of Walter Block’s essay, even for non-Jews, as I will explain below. But no matter. Arguendo, Bris Milah is the perfect proof that Block is wrong when he claims [8], with Rothbard, that it doesn’t matter at all how one came upon libertarianism, only that one did. He further wrongly asserts [9] that any religion is fully compatible with libertarianism. As Rafi justly pointed out, what about Milah?

Here [10] is another illustrative example, straight from Block: “Suppose that Martians beam down a message to us earthlings: “Kill innocent person Joe, or we blow up the entire earth.” (Stipulate that they have the power to do this, and we are unable to stop them.) One would hope that a hero would arise to murder Joe, so as to save the planet. We would then hold a ticker tape parade in his honor. Afterwards, the heirs of Joe would have the right to exact full punishment against our hero.”

In the Torah view, one may not kill Joe at all. Instead they should all give up their lives. Joe’s murderer would be treated the same as any other murder (and parades are “Innui Hadin”, of course…). I assume Joe is Jewish (Yerushalmi Shabbos p. 77a).

Let us continue. Judaism disallows the free market choosing its own medium of exchange (seashells, rocks, prison cigarettes, etc.), obligating a national gold standard so as to observe the obligations of Ma’aser Sheni, etc., see Chazon Ish Yoreh Deah 72. (Rafi’s note: I’m not so sure about that from my own study of Perek HaZahav, but do not know enough yet to rebut. Just because the Chazon Ish said something doesn’t mean it’s הלכה למעשה)

Many believe [11] that “The Biblical maxim to ‘love your neighbor’ and the libertarian principle of non-aggression are essentially synonymous.” To Xtianity, perhaps this is so, but the true Torah admits no such thing. The verse refers to Jews alone, and this stems from love of God leading to love for fellow co-religionists.

Finally, Austrian economics seems to be simply more accurate scientifically. Our scriptures and history are laissez faire capitalistic, too. Judaism is concerned with the real world, so, obviously, we are partial to real science as opposed to Keynesianism.

An additional value of libertarianism is in its being a great beginning foundation for the laws non-Jews are commanded to write for themselves (in the seventh Noahide commandment).

[For the record, current mainstream Judaism is lost in stygian interventionism, antinomianism, etc. I speak here of Judaism as it used to and ought yet to be, not as it is currently construed.]

As pledged, I will now comment on circumcision, as regards libertarian legal theory. This will become relevant when libertarians “rule” the world.

First to Rafi [6]:

Yes, the act is necessarily violent. So what? If it can be established that it is a “clear benefit to the child”, the NAP is cancelled out by the guardianship rights of the parent (as Block explains). As I wrote in my previous comment regarding the NAP, “it is a theory of punishment”. Again, there is no just cause for compelling [2] war against religious Jews, only meting out punishment, if the child (who is the sole victim) actually demands it when he matures, no more.

Incidentally, Jews aren’t the worst offenders of the NAP. Blockian Libertarian Nuremburg Trials will be plenty busy with other “criminals”… Clean your own backyard first!

Now to Block [12]:

Before I start, let me echo Rafi, Shimshon Weisman (in comments on the EPJ) et al. in affirming loyal Jews will forever flout the NAP in this regard (as explained above).

As for the legal question, firstly, I restate what I said before [1]. Aside from societal conformity being a sufficient justification for surgery for Polydactyly and the like, which are done routinely, the legitimate Jewish ערל (as in his two younger brothers died after Milah and he is left uncircumcised legally) is forbidden from eating the Korban Pesach, prevented from prophesy, etc. Also, yes, he may indeed regret the circumcision later (as apostasy, likely, but not simply for lessened sensual pleasure!), but the pain endured should he later wish to circumcise (highly likely) is severely more than that of an infant. Circumcision reversal without surgery, which Block pays no attention to, is usually painless [13]. The acceptable boundary of aggression probably suffers from ye olde “Continuum Problem” (a neonatal lack of intellect lessens the pain, “Veyosif da’as yosif mach’ov”).

Second, the data assembled suffers from selection bias. The core medical evidence presented does not overwhelm; some of it is tentative or based on procedurally faulty statistics, which are also quite dated (medicine has gotten a lot better since 1950, and this will continue). Expert Mohalim (solely for Jews) vastly reduce the dangers he mentions, too, which the numbers overlook.

Enough said,

Chaim S.

1. https://thejewishlibertarian.com/2014/07/27/why-im-an-anarcho-capitalist-but-love-minarchists/
2. http://www.economicpolicyjournal.com/2014/07/walter-block-and-rafi-farber-on.html
3. https://thejewishlibertarian.com/2014/07/27/why-im-an-anarcho-capitalist-but-love-minarchists/
4. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2004_attempt_to_revive_the_Sanhedrin
5. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jewish_state
6. https://thejewishlibertarian.com/2014/08/03/halachic-proof-that-circumcision-is-a-violation-of-the-non-aggression-principle/#comments
7. http://www.rabbibrand.022.co.il/BRPortal/br/P102.jsp?arc=25585
8. http://www.reasonpapers.com/pdf/26/rp_26_4.pdf
9. http://www.lewrockwell.com/2012/07/walter-e-block/is-libertarianism-anti-religious/
10. http://libertarianpapers.org/articles/2009/lp-1-17.pdf
11. http://www.humblelibertarian.com/2009/11/10-reasons-i-am-libertarian-christian.html Ron Paul thinks so, too:http://www.amazon.com/Liberty-Defined-Essential-Issues-Freedom/dp/B009WH7IDE
12. http://www.lewrockwell.com/2014/06/pat-testa/dont-mutilate-your-baby-boy/
13. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foreskin_restoration

Halachic Proof that Circumcision is a Violation of the Non Aggression Principle

Someone commented on a previous post:

There are many justifications for Milah vs. NAP. I wrote a lot about this for the drawer, so just ask, and i can write it here. To start, it is a clear benefit to the child in the social sense, the same way extra fingers are removed. Having it later is more painful.

In that post I had said the following about circumcision.

And in the end, Judaism forces me to be a minarchist, of a sort. To draw a line from my own personhood instead of from something outside myself. To have just a little intuition of my own. I circumcised my son without his consent, and thereby broke the NAP, the holy of holies of libertarian law. I hated it. I cried. And then even I, the uncontrollable libertarian radical teeming with hatred of the State, drew a line from within to circumscribe power. I did, and will do brit milah, and that’s it. I can’t explain why in any logical terms other than God told me to. And I will not go any further than that into the realm of power over other men. Not ever. Not one inch.

Anyone who wants to read my back and forth with Walter Block on bris milah can do so here, at Economic Policy Journal.

My position is that a bris on an 8-day old baby necessarily violates the NAP. It is an unnecessary surgery, and despite the benefits of circumcision, there are also drawbacks. Never mind what they are, the fact is that the kid has no say in whether to do it or not, and it should be his decision. Other issues such as dressing, bathing, feeding, putting in a crib by force, disciplining, etc. are issues of safety and child rearing, and if these are not done, a child will have serious problems in life.

The other side claims as this commenter did, that it is a clear benefit to the child socially. Perhaps so, but a child can decide this when he is, say, 6 or 7 when he may begin becoming embarrassed by having an ערלה (foreskin) for whatever reason. If he decides to do the surgery then voluntarily then fine. That wouldn’t violate the NAP at all, assuming a 7 year old has the capacity to voluntarily do something. (Let’s not complicate things.)

But this kind of argumentation is beside the point. There are obviously ways to justify circumcision as not violating the NAP, whether you make a medical, social, or child rearing argument, none of which I accept, but let’s assume I do. Still, there is the halachic issue of what a bris actually is, and here we get into a more Talmudic form of argumentation.

Taking the case of a child born circumcised, or an adult conversion where the man is already circumcised, we clearly see that one קיום (fulfillment aspect) of a bris is itself the violence of the act. Why? Because a child born circumcised still needs to be wounded by his father. A convert who is already circumcised also needs to bleed in order to be converted. Without a הטפת דם ברית, (drawing of covenant blood) a father does not fulfill the mitzva of circumcision on his son who is born circumcised.

Now say what you want about circumcision itself. Wounding a baby for the sake of wounding a baby for no purpose other than to fulfill a mitzvah is clearly a violation of the NAP. And it is an integral part of the bris. Blood must be drawn. This is also why a Gomco clamp is considered פסול (unsatisfactory) for circumcision, because with a Gomco there is no bleeding.

Clearly then, one kiyum of a bris is violence. Certainly, it is absolutely minimal. One prick, one drop of blood, and nothing more than that. But it is still there. One point of a bris is to violate the NAP, and therefore my point still stands. Judaism forces me to be a minarchist of a sort, and draw a line demarcating violence from within myself.

Indeed, to say עד כאן. “Up to here, and no further.”

To reinforce the idea that above the NAP is God Himself, and as sure as He is the One Who commanded me to observe the NAP, He is also the One Who commanded me to violate it in the case of circumcision.