I know that the origins of Metzitzah practice are those of health reasons, as the contact of blood with human saliva actually helped prevent infections (assuming the Mohel's saliva in itself was not infected, as in that infamous Herpes case).

My question is - since indeed the original purpose of the practice was to get saliva on to the wound, I wonder - is a specific requirement of a full insertion of the baby's penis into the mohel's mouth, or can he be allowed to do to it in a manner that can't be as easily misinterpreted?

  • This is obviously asking only according to the views that Metzitza b'Peh is actually a halachik requirement with parameters to be discussed. Other opinions exist of course (such as it is just an ineffective [anymore] medical technique for the requirement to treat the wound medically appropriately and should be abandoned with gusto like the ancient practice of cumin poultices) but aren't for answers here. – Double AA Sep 8 '19 at 0:40

Metzitzah B'Peh is performed by sucking blood from the wound with the mouth at the tip of the organ, not by inserting the organ in the mouth. The Rambam writes (Hilchot Milah 2:2)

Afterwards, one should suck the place of the circumcision until all the blood in the further reaches is extracted, lest a dangerous situation arise.

The objective is to draw out the blood, not to get saliva on the wound. The proof is that a common way to practice metzitzah is to use a tube to suck out some blood instead of the mouth. The use of a tube doesn't deposit saliva (and/or microbes) on the wound but is nevertheless accepted by many.

For further details see Shlomo Sprecher's article in Hakirah vol. 3: Meẓiẓah be-Peh―Therapeutic Touch or Hippocratic Vestige?

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  • 2
    The common practice to use a tube isn't exactly "Metzitzah B'Peh", which is the term generally used for the position that using the mouth directly is necessary – b a Sep 7 '19 at 21:06
  • I don't really see how this answers the question. There are many opinions about what is actually required, but he's asking about the opinions that oral cleansing is a Halakhic requirement. You telling him that oral cleansing is not needed but suction is doesn't help him. I can also tell him he should skip all of it and use alcohol swabs to sterilize the wound. That wouldn't answer the question either. – Double AA Sep 8 '19 at 2:54
  • @ba I meant the common practice to practice brit mila but will clarify – mbloch Sep 8 '19 at 2:56
  • @DoubleAA I meant for the first para and quote to answer the question "how is mbp performed". The last para is meant to contradict the hypothesis of the OP that the original purpose was to get saliva on the wound. – mbloch Sep 8 '19 at 2:59

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