Circumcision Two of Three

Circumcision Two of Three

By Richard Abbott, UK

Zap zap zap. Ouch ouch ouch. Tat tat tat. Bye bye bye.

When I was nineteen I was already aware of the Jews. I had grown up with the wondrous stories of their historical struggles with G-D and I was starting to realise that they weren’t confined to bible stories and american films but they were in fact a vibrant, thriving, living people with a special relationship with my G-D. My only problem with the Jews was that I wasn’t one.

I wasn’t one of these indoctrinated xtians with silly ideas of superseding or usurping the place of the Jews in G-D’s favour. I believed that G-D somehow had the duality, the breadth of mind, the loving kindness to adore all of His creations Jew and gentile alike.

I tried to learn from the story of the Jews, I looked at what G-D told them to do and tried to find my own version. I didn’t realise then what I realise now; that their version of obedience can also be my version.

I looked at circumcision, at the ritual of marking one’s own body with a symbol of adoration of G-D, to endure pain and loose blood in the process of setting oneself apart for Him. I thought this was a scary but beautiful idea. Growing up a gentile in the west country of England, circumcision as the Jews know it wasn’t really an option for me so I tried to form my own. Oblivious to the prohibition in Leviticus against tattoos I assumed it as a viable option. I paid for a tattoo on my wrist of the then symbol of my religion and settled in to a gentle decade of regret. That was my first circumcision, misguided but well intentioned. Aimed at obedience, but obedience without listening is disobedience. I see it all the time at the school where I work. A child isn’t really listening, does the wrong thing and then gets really upset, frustrated, incensed when their misdeed is highlighted.
“I thought that’s what you wanted!”
“That’s because you weren’t listening.”
The child is all the more frustrated when they realise they are inadvertently a transgressor.

Yesterday I finally, joyfully, began the process of tattoo removal.

A young man charged me a small amount of money to spend ten minutes firing a laser into my arm.
Buzzing machine, hot pain, the loud crack of tiny particles of ink becoming overcome with energy and exploding under my skin, the smell of singed arm hair. An intense experience.
The symbolic removal of the unnecessary to make way for the necessary.
Clearing away the old life for the new life.
Pain accepted as a willing step towards obedience.

Circumcision two of three.

When this first misdeed is cleared away only then can I return to the beginning and face circumcision three of three: circumcision. To do what G-D actually told me to do in the first place.
I’ll listen more carefully in future.

Baruch HaShem.

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