Philadelphia, PA – With several recent cases of neonatal herpes putting the custom of metitza b’peh back in the proverbial spotlight as previously reported on VIN News, a prominent rabbi has spoken out strongly against the custom saying that if oral suction puts babies at risk then the practice should not be performed.
In a phone interview with The Jewish Week, Rabbi Shmuel Kaminetzky, the rosh yeshiva and co-founder of the Talmudical Yeshiva of Philadephia said that to the best of his knowledge, metitza is done using a sterile pipette, in order to prevent any contact between the Mohel’s mouth and the wound.
When asked if there were those who believe that metitza cannot be performed using a tube, R’ Kaminetzky stating unequivocally, “Nobody holds likes that” and expressed disbelief when told that there are rabbis who insist that metitza must be done by mouth saying, “I don’t think there is any response to them.”
R’ Kaminetzky expressed surprise that any Mohel would perform metitzah b’peh, given the links between the practice and transmission of certain diseases to infants, saying that under the circumstances, performing metitzah b’peh would run counter to halacha.
“Chas V’shalom, if [children are] getting sick [from oral suction, you] wouldn’t do it,” under Jewish law, ruled R’ Kaminetzky, saying that since the act of doing metzitza via a sterile tube is completely risk free, the suctioning should clearly be performed in this fashion.
R’ David Niederman, executive director and president of the United Jewish Organizations of Williamsburg, insisted that the September death of an infant was completely unrelated to metitza b’peh, telling The Jewish Week that the custom has never caused either death or an infection.
“We will continue to make metzitzah b’peh,” said R’ Niederman.
R’ Kaminetzky is a senior member of the Moetzes Gedolei Hatorah of Agudath Israel of America and serves on the board of Torah Umesorah, the Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation, Chinuch Atmai and the Association for Jewish Outreach Professionals. One of the most prominent rabbonim outside of Israel, his opinion is frequently sought on a wide number of topics.