Daily Israel Report

Rabbinic Court Cannot Decide on Circumcision

A rabbinic court overstepped its bounds when it ruled in parents’ circumcision battle, Attorney General says.
By Maayana Miskin
First Publish: 3/6/2014, 2:58 PM

Circumcision (illustrative)
Circumcision (illustrative)
Flash 90

A beit din (rabbinic court) overstepped its legal authority when it ruled in the case of divorcing parents who disagree over whether to circumcise their young son, Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein said Thursday.

Weinstein submitted his opinion to the Supreme Court as part of the ongoing legal battle between the parents.

The parents in question are in the midst of divorcing via the rabbinic courts. In Israel, Jewish couples may divorce through either the rabbinic courts, which rule according to Jewish law (halakha), or through the Family Court system.

During the divorce process, the father raised a complaint against the mother for refusing to have their infant son circumcised. Circumcision is considered an important Biblical command in Judaism, and the circumcision ceremony is when infant boys fully join the Jewish nation.

The court ruled in the father’s favor, and ordered the mother to have the baby boy circumcised or else pay a fine. The mother has appealed to the Supreme Court.

Weinstein previously told the Supreme Court that he does not believe the beit din had the right to rule in the specific case at hand, due to the fact that in this particular case, the circumcision would need to be performed under anesthesia or other pain-killing medicine.

In his statement submitted to the court Thursday, which came to complete his earlier opinion, Weinstein said that when parents disagree over circumcision, the Family Court system – and not the beit din system – has the right to rule in the case.

The question of circumcision cannot be considered an issue directly pertaining to divorce, he explained – and therefore, it is outside the beit din’s jurisdiction.

Weinstein noted that while he believes the beit din should not have ruled in the case, it is possible that a family court, too, may rule that it is in a minor child’s best interests to undergo circumcision.