Thursday, May 23, 2013

Abram to Abraham

In the musical “Fiddler on the Roof there is a song, “Tradition”.”  There are traditions worth keeping and there are traditions way passed their sell-by date and really need to be scrapped. They might very well have lasted for centuries but they have no place in the twenty-first. Imagine this scenario – scene, Abram’s garden. Present Abram taking a pleasant evening stroll, deep in thought and possibly picking delicately at a pomegranate. Suddenly he practically loses it when he hears this majestic voice booming out though he cannot quite tell where it is coming from. It seems to be coming from every direction at once. He stops his perambulating and nervously clears his throat. After all it’s not every day of the week that one hears a stentorian voice in the quiet of one’s garden. We'll go into sort of dialect now.
God: Abram, Abram, hearken ye unto me, I am the Lord thy God and I have something of the utmost importance to impart.
Abram: Go ahead, Lord. I am listening.
God: When I created mankind in my own image I have to confess I made a small mistake that needs to be rectified, I gave him a foreskin and you will have to rid me of it. You will circumcise yourself and every male child on the eighth day and every male and this will become a covenant between us.
Abram: But Lord, I am ninety-nine years old, will this not be, how can I put it, a little on the painful side?
God: A small price to pay for being my chosen people.
Abram couldn’t help wondering if God, having created man in his own image, meant that the Lord had genitals and if so whether or not he had a foreskin or had he had himself circumcised, but he decided not to voice these thoughts as being possibly sacrilegious and for fear of the Almighty’s wrath which could be terrible to behold. It was only fairly recently that He had sent them a plague of locusts which had caused immeasurable damage so, if somewhat reluctantly, he agreed with what God wanted.
God: And, oh, one other thing, you will change your name from, Abram, to Abraham. Much more melodic don’t you think? Has a sort of resonance to it.
His voice was beginning to fade.
God: Oh, and while you’re at it, change your wife’s name from Sarai to Sarah.
Abraham thought this request too was rather odd but he acquiesced with the Lord’s wishes and become the father of the Hebrew nation. And that is how circumcision became a tradition.
Two Jewish gentlemen standing side by side at the urinal. The one turns to the other and says, “You were circumcised by the Rabbi Greenberg.”
“Why yes! How did you know?”
“The Rabbi Greenberg is cross-eyed and you’re pissing on my foot.”
And before someone jumps down my throat for making what they would call anti-Semitic jokes, only Jewish humour could think up that one, and it was a Jewish friend who told it me. But enough joking. What this is all leading up to is something so horrible it is difficult to even think about it. I refer to female circumcision which over the years as been perpetrated on millions of girls and is still carried out without anaesthetic to this day. It is difficult to imagine the fear, the intense pain on sensitive and delicate tissue, and shock the girls suffer, and why? Tradition, tradition tradition. Mothers, who have been through it and know what it is like, still offer up their daughters for what can only be described as barbaric mutilation. Who knows how it started but perhaps it could be put down to it coming about because of a holy man or men who in their unfathomable way had a deep rooted fear of the female genitalia

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