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Brooklyn, NY – On September 28, a 2-week-old boy died at Maimonides Hospital in Brooklyn. A subsequent investigation by the medical examiner office led to a determination of the official cause of death to be, “disseminated herpes simplex virus Type 1, complicating ritual circumcision with oral suction.”

This is basically a fancy way of saying that the newborn died after a rabbi with herpes cleaned the baby’s freshly circumcised penis with his mouth. Despite this sounding like a really good idea… it turns out that it is not.

Far from being some new fad, the ritual of oral suction — or in Hebrew, metzitzah b’peh — was first described some 1800 years ago in a section of the Talmud. The procedure is spelled out very clearly – as is the consequence of not doing it correctly.

If a surgeon does not suck, it is dangerous and he is dismissed.

Taken literally, the procedure occurs during the circumcision ritual as the practitioner, or mohel, removes the foreskin of the penis.…

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