[Previous Section] [Back to Contents] [Next Section]3. THE PROCEDURE Various methods have been used or promoted for circumcision or by procedures designed to bring about the same results.36 (a) Jewish Ritual Circumcision The circumcision which Abraham performed on himself and other male members of his household was the removal of the tip of the prepuce. This procedure is referred to as Milah by Jews and was practised by Jews for approximately 2,000 years. During the Hellenic period and at least by AD 140 a second step to ritual circumcision (Pariah) became prevalent. This involved the tearing of the remaining lining of the prepuce off the glans (the head of the penis to which the prepuce is normally attached during infancy) and, with a sharpened fingernail, removing all mucous tissue that comprises the inner lining of the prepuce. A final step in this circumcision procedure, the Metzitzah, was added to the rite during the Talmudic period (AD 500-625):37 Now follows the exsuction of the wound in such a manner that the Mohel takes the circumcised member in his mouth and with two or three draughts sucks the blood out of the wounded part. He then takes a mouthful of wine from a goblet and spurts it, in two or three intervals, on the wound. Not all Jews adopted this procedure. Some modified it by including the use of a glass tube to avoid the spead of disease through mouth to genital contact. Recently, with the spread of HIV, the Rabbinate also approved placing cotton in the glass tube to prevent blood from entering the Mohel's mouth. Most Jewish baby boys in Australia are now circumcised by doctors using the same procedures as are described below for non-ritual circumcision, although a religious ceremony would normally also take place at the same time. (b) Non-Ritual Circumcision This involves the surgical removal of the prepuce from the glans. Because it is common for babies as young as 8 days old to be circumcised, it is not the usual practise to anaesthetise the child. Commonly an instrument is used not dissimilar in appearance from a pair of pliars. The foreskin is removed and the ends are sutured. In free-hand excision, clamps may be used. A more recent practice involves inserting a plastic ring with a grove on its periphery inside the prepuce. A string is tied around the outside of the prepuce over the glans. A plastic bell fits over the top of the prepuce. The head of the device is broken off, removing the prepuce. It is trimmed by the doctor. The ring, which clamps the wound, falls off within a week. Notes: 36 Descriptions of some Australian Aboriginal circumcision techniques are referred to above at pp 8-9. 37 This information is from a 1992 United States of America publication. The Commission would prefer information to be provided by those experienced in Australian Jewish circumcision practices.
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