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My understanding so far : Jews circumcise their sons at the age of 8 days in order to mark an alliance between the newborn and God, and this tradition has carried on for thousands of years. It is also a central and very important tradition, equivalent to baptism in Christianity. Even casual Jews circumcise their sons, and circumcision is a strong requirement for converting to Judaism.

Reproducing is also culturally considered very important for Jews; single people are strongly encouraged to find a partner and couples are strongly encouraged to have as many children as possible.

Since both reproducing and circumcising are very important, I ask myself: What is the perceived effect of circumcision when it comes to sexuality? (It does not matter whether it is proven true - just what the Jews themselves think about it.) Is circumcision related to the Jewish views about family and sexuality?

  • Welcome to Mi Yodeya and thank you for bringing your question here. FYI, while some families produce many children, and this is the norm in some communities, the actual requirement under halacha (Jewish law) is lower -- one boy and one girl. This doesn't affect your question; I'm just supplying a little extra info for you. – Monica Cellio Jan 15 '17 at 19:28
  • I heard in shiurim that it lowers the pleasure, and so does the metzitza (similar to that we give all the best to Hashem , IE the best fats, the first fruits, the first born...) – hazoriz Jan 15 '17 at 19:37
  • @MonicaCellio Thanks for your extra info. I don't remember seeing that (at least 1 boy and 1 girl) anywhere in the Bible but maybe it's just an oral thing. – Bregalad Jan 15 '17 at 20:58
  • @Bregalad that's part of the rabbinic tradition, yes; it's not explicit in the torah. – Monica Cellio Jan 15 '17 at 22:15
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    @SamuelManuel No, the biblical command is only 2 children. There is discussion of if further children is a rabbinic command, or a non-required mitzva, etc. – Double AA Jan 19 '17 at 18:05
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By writing this answer I am not acknowledging your comparison to Christianity


Might not be the consensus view but I found the Rambam in the guide for the perplexed part 3 chapter 49

...As regards circumcision, I think that one of its objects is to limit sexual intercourse, and to weaken the organ of generation as far as possible, and thus cause man to be moderate. Some people believe that circumcision is to remove a defect in man's formation; but every one can easily reply: How can products of nature be deficient so as to require external completion, especially as the use of the fore-skin to that organ is evident. This commandment has not been enjoined as a complement to a deficient physical creation, but as a means for perfecting man's moral shortcomings. The bodily injury caused to that organ is exactly that which is desired; it does not interrupt any vital function, nor does it destroy the power of generation. Circumcision simply counteracts excessive lust; for there is no doubt that circumcision weakens the power of sexual excitement, and sometimes lessens the natural enjoyment: the organ necessarily becomes weak when it loses blood and is deprived of its covering from the beginning. Our Sages (Beresh. Rabba, c. 80) say distinctly: It is hard for a woman, with whom an uncircumcised had sexual intercourse, to separate from him. This is, as I believe, the best reason for the commandment concerning circumcision. And who was the first to perform this commandment? Abraham, our father! of whom it is well known how he feared sin; it is described by our Sages in reference to the words, "Behold, now I know that thou art a fair woman to look upon" (Gen. xii. 11)...

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Yes, in Jewish conscience there is a connection between circumcision and reproduction.

For example, see Sefer haChinuch (2) :

אות קבוע בגופם להבדילם משאר עמים בצורת גופם כמו שהם מובדלים בצורת נפשותם וכו' ונקבע ההבדל בגולת הזהב לפי שהוא סיבה לקיום המין "...to differentiate them from other nations in their body shape as they differ in their soul shape... And the distinction was fixed in the gold ball [=the sex] because it is the condition for continuity of the species...

Nachmanides on Bereshis 16, 9 (seemingly quoting the ReDaK) says that

...שם זכרון באבר התאווה רב המהומה והחטא לבל ישתמשו בו רק במצוה ובמותר "Put a reminder in the desire organ, prone to excitement and fault, so they use it only for the commandment or permitted"

And on verse 4, he says also that

וצוה את אברהם לבא בבריתו להמול קודם שתהר שרה למען היות זרעו קודש "...to circumcise before Sara became pregnant so his progeny would be holy"

Besides these connections with reproduction, the beauty of circumcison is strongly anchored (see many examples in Nedarim chapter 3).

Moreover, the foreskin is called ערלה -- an excrescence, that must be taken to emperfect the body.

State of uncircumcision is considered dirty and regarded very pejoratively; and it has many halachic issues (ibid, and in the 8th chapter of Yevamot 'The Uncircumcised' -- to cite only a few).

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