Circumcise MeJul 13th, 2010 | By Adam
My latest addition received his circumcision and his name (Ezra Matisyahu) this past Shabbat. While researching the ceremony I discovered an amazing thing. I knew the Sages forbade doing a circumcision on a baby that had jaundice, but I never understood why. It seems as though infants have poor blood coagulation when they are born due to the fact that they have not produced enough vitamin K (which is produced by bacteria in the intestinal tract). Vitamin K is responsible for the production (by the liver) of the element known as prothrombin, and without it coagulation does not happen.
Interestingly, it is only on the 5th through 7th day of the new born male infant’s life that vitamin K is present in adequate quantities. Researchers Holt and McIntosh, in their classic work, Holt Pediatrics, observed that a newborn infant has “peculiar susceptibility to bleeding between the second and fifth days of life…. Hemorrhages at this time, though often inconsequential, are sometimes extensive; they may produce serious damage to internal organs, especially to the brain, and cause death from shock and exsanguination”.
Still with me? So the kicker is that as it happens, there is a spike in the prothrombin levels that occurs on the 8th day and never again in a person’s life (it actually goes to 110%), which makes the 8th day particularly suitable for coagulation.
This is what S.I. McMillen, M.D., had to say about this in his book, None of These Diseases:
We should commend the many hundreds of workers who labored at great expense over a number of years to discover that the safest day to perform circumcision is the eighth. Yet, as we congratulate medical science for this recent finding, we can almost hear the leaves of the Bible rustling. They would like to remind us that four thousand years ago, when God initiated circumcision with Abraham….
Abraham did not pick the eighth day after many centuries of trial-and-error experiments. Neither he nor any of his company from the ancient city of Ur in the Chaldees ever had been circumcised. It was a day picked by the Creator of vitamin K.
Food for thought…