Court forces mother to circumcise son

High Rabbinical Court rules man may perform Jewish ritual on infant despite wife's objection, expressing concern that circumcision will be used as tool in divorce battles

The High Rabbinical Court has ruled that a man may have his son circumcised despite the mother's objection, rejecting a petition filed by the woman against a district court's decision.


The high court's judges said they were under the impression that the woman's refusal to circumcise the infant was simply a tool to improve her achievements in the divorce battle, and therefore decided not to accept it.


This comes as a legal precedent by a rabbinical court seeking to force a parent to circumcise their child.


The initial ruling was delivered last month in a district court in the Sharon region. It stated that the father was entitled to circumcise his son, who is several months old, under the supervision of a specialist. The judges instructed the father to hold the circumcision ceremony within a week and imposed a fine of NIS 500 (about $140) for every day of delay due to the mother's objection.


'Why does the court bind the two together?'

The woman claimed through attorney Marcella Wolf that the court had no authority to discuss the matter, and filed a petition with the High Rabbinical Court with a request to delay the implementation of the order.


In a discussion held last week, the woman's representative argued that the circumcision was not a "religious ceremony" but a surgical procedure, and that therefore it should not be tied to the custody issue being discussed by the court.


"Let's assume that a husband comes to the court and wants to stop her from having an abortion. Can he just bind it due to the fact that there is a divorce claim, and the court can prevent it?" asked attorney Wolf.


The man's representatives, attorneys Itzhak Gilboa and Natan Tzur, said in response that until now rabbinical courts were not required to deal with the circumcision issue because there was a consensus over the mitzvah and no one had raised a demand to avoid it as part of a divorce case.

According to the attorneys, the religious judges were authorized to discuss it just like they discussed the issue of whether children should be educated in religious or secular institutions. .


Judges: Baby's brit must not be delayed

High Rabbinical Court Judges Rabbi Zion Boaron, Rabbi Masud Elhadad and Rabbi Israel Shchur wondered how it was possible that in a discussion on the divorce the woman asked for "matrimonial reconciliation" while delaying the circumcision the father wanted to perform on his son.


According to the judges, this "will surely drive the husband away from her desire for domestic peace, and there is also an aspect that this could join the reasons to force her to accept a divorce, as he has no desire for a woman delaying his children's circumcision and refusing to trust specialists.


"It appears that the woman's desire to delay the circumcision stems from her attempt to force her husband to accept her demand for domestic peace and go back to her," the judges added.


"If the woman received bad advice to oppose her husband on the circumcision issue, thereby forcing him to agree to go back to her for domestic peace – this is not the way and this is not the place, and such a thing creates distance rather than bringing them closer."


The judges further added that "this is wrong in itself, and a baby's circumcision must not be delayed and must not be mixed with the possibility to restore peace, and it should not be claimed that this is allegedly not an issue the court is authorized to discuss."


They noted that "delaying the circumcision may stop this person from marrying according to Jewish law – and this is undoubtedly an issue subject to the court's authority."


Brit left to consideration of court

As part of the discussion, the court wrote that an absolute majority of the Jewish people sacrificed themselves throughout the generations in order to perform the circumcision – and not just religious people. They stressed that the baby's father must observe the mitzvah.


Addressing the woman's claim that she did not want to damage her son's body, the judges commented: "The Jewish people have always seen the circumcision as an act of repairing and completing the Creation, and not causing damage God forbid."


They added that "there is no doubt – and this is a judicial cognizance – that from the social aspect as well it is in the favor of every Jewish child to be circumcised like the entire society he lives in, and he should not be given the feeling that he is different from the rest of his friend."


The High Rabbinical Court protested the woman's objection to the circumcision, stating that they had not encountered such an incident as part of a divorce case for decades. They warned against a precedent that would turn the matter into a tool in similar battles.


"We may find ourselves facing an outburst of such cases, which will add another intimidating dimension to divorce procedures," they wrote. "We believe this trend must be stopped immediately in favor of public welfare, which overrides individual welfare.


"In this case we don't need this argument to reject the petition, but even if there anyone who hesitates on this matter, or in other causes in which binding the two is questionable, this argument is enough to tip the scales."


The judges further implied that it was wrong to leave the circumcision issue to the consideration of the parents or the court: "We have been witnessing for a long time now public and legal battles against the circumcision in many countries in Europe and in the United States, and the public in Israel stands as one against these phenomena and sees them as another aspect of anti-Semitism which must be combated…


"What will the world say if here too the matter of circumcision will be subject to the consideration of every person according to his perceptions? It is unthinkable that the matter of performing or failing to perform the circumcision will be taken away from Jewish scholars and be subject to the consideration of a civil court, when each one has his own opinions and worldview – this will not happen in Israel, God forbid."


As for the authority to discuss the issue, the judges wrote that after it was tied by the appellee to the divorce claim itself (even if not to begin with), "there is no doubt and no question that this is subject to the court's authority.


"Our eyes can see clearly how the woman's war to prevent the circumcision only fans the flames of disagreement, prolongs the discussion between the parties in different courts, and serves as a means of pressure against the husband to give up on other issues, as the case reveals," they wrote.



פרסום ראשון: 11.27.13, 13:34
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