Jews in several of the Nordic nations (Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Iceland) are increasingly fearing for their religious futures after Denmark moved a step closer to passing a law banning infant circumcision. One rabbi sees this as a reenactment of a macabre story told in the bible symbolizing an attempt to cut off the thin connection binding heaven and earth.
The petition to ban infant circumcision in Denmark recently garnered the necessary 50,000 signatures for it to be brought before the parliament.The debate among Danish lawmakers will probably begin in the fall and if the proposal becomes law, Denmark will become the first European Union member state to vote on such a ban.
“The introduction of an 18-year minimum age for circumcision puts children’s interests and rights at the forefront,” the text states. The bill calls for a jail term of up to six years for anyone who performs a circumcision, and holds parents and guardians responsible whether the act happened in Denmark or not. The wording compares male circumcision to female genital mutilation.
Though Denmark may be the first, it is already not alone. A similar bill has passed an initial parliamentary vote in Iceland, and both Norway and Sweden are known to be similarly intolerant of ritual circumcision.
Rabbi Yosef Berger, Rabbi of King David’s Tomb on Mount Zion, was unperturbed when he heard the news, noting that this Danish resolution had already been described in Psalms.
Why do nations assemble, and peoples plot vain things;kings of the earth take their stand, and regents intrigue together against Hashem and against His anointed? Psalms 2:1-2
“They claim to care about the children but their real intent is written in the next verse,” Rabbi Berger said.
“Let us break the cords of their yoke, shake off their ropes from us!” Psalms 2:3
“They want to be free of all the rules of heaven,” Rabbi Berger said. “Midrash (homiletic traditions) teaches us that this verse in Psalms is a prophecy of what will happen in the end of days. People will rise up en masse against any rules of decency that limit what they can do. They will fight against anything that reminds them that there is a God in Heaven.”
“These revolts against morality are coming now because very soon, when the Moshiach comes, they will have no choice,” the rabbi said. “God’s presence in the world will be right there in front of them in every way.”
Rabbi Berger noted that rejecting circumcision has a biblical precedent.
“The Midrash teaches that after killing the Jews, the Amalekites, Israel’s archetypal and eternal enemy, cut off the male organ and threw it up towards heaven,” Rabbi Berger said. “Brit Milah (circumcision) literally means a covenant. It connects heaven and earth. It is a sign that a Jew, no matter where he is, carries the connection between heaven and earth on his body. The Jew acts as this connection. Rejecting this specific mitzvah (commandment) is an attempt to sever this connection, cutting off the entire world from God.”
It is already difficult for Denmark’s 9,000 Jews to observe the basic tenets of their religion. In 2014, Denmark outlawed the slaughter of animals without stunning them first, making Jewish ritual slaughter illegal.
“This spring has been nightmarish for the Jewish community,” Dan Rosenberg Asmussen, chairman of The Jewish Community in Denmark, told the NY Times. “The proposal takes as a starting point that Jews are child molesters.”
A ban would “make it difficult for the next generation of Jews to maintain a religious life in Denmark,” he added.
Rabbi Berger noted that this week Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky, one of the most prominent rabbis of this generation, made a declaration concerning a law in England that will require Jewish school to teach Christianity and Islam.
“Rabbi Kanievsky said that these are signs from heaven for the Jews outside of Israel to come home to Israel,” Rabbi Berger related. “For now, the signs are gentle but Rabbi Kanievsky warned this may not always be the case.”