A Letter to God

Dear God:

Thank you for sharing the creation of a healthy child with us. Thank you for creating me as I am so that I am able to share in bringing forth new life into the world.

We are gathered here to fulfill Your commandment of Brit Milah. But I find no joy in fulfilling this commandment. I come to you in protest as Abraham did when you told him you were going to destroy S’dom and G’mora.

I have chosen a loving way of life, which is expressed in part by not killing your creations for my food, and I am offended that you command me to cause my child to suffer. How can you create us with a loving and empathic nature, which helps us to be good parents and then command us to submit our infants to the pain and distress of Brit Milah? As a parent I can understand that it is sometimes necessary to hurt or distress our children for their own good, but how does my 8 day-old infant benefit from Brit Milah? I cannot submit my child to this because I believe he will benefit from it. Do you or I or anyone else benefit from this? If there is some unforeseen good from Brit Milah for parents or friends or relatives of the community, then there must be a better way to get it than through the discomfort and distress of an infant who cannot understand. If it is our pain and distress that is of value, why involve an innocent third party?

Why do I submit my child to this Brit Milah? I have neither the faith in you nor knowledge of you that Abraham did. I submit my child to this because I was raised to believe that your commandments are given to us for our benefit, and that they are righteous and just. I submit him because I am too weak to stand before the community and say this is senseless cruelty, which I will not participate in. I submit him because I hope there is more to this than I can see or understand. God, help our people to outgrow this commandment just as we have outgrown animal sacrifices. God, if you cannot send an angel to stop the mohel as you stopped Abraham from sacrificing his son Isaac, then comfort my son as he is submitted to your command.

Used by permission of author, January 1989

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