Marc Saperstein. Decoding the Rabbis: A Thirteenth-Century Commentary on the Aggadah. Cambridge, Mass, and London, England: Harvard University Press, 1980: pp. 97-98.
[CIRP Note: Rabbi Isaac ben Yedaiah, who lived in Southern France in the late 13th century, explained why he considered circumcision to be advised for the Jewish male.]
A quotation from Rabbi Isaac ben Yedaiah of Southern France, late 13th century, as provided by Marc Saperstein:Pages 97-98
A man uncircumcised in the flesh desires to lie with a beautiful-looking woman who speaks seductively to attract him. He vexes his mind to be with her day after day, growing weary in his attempt to fulfil his desire through lovemaking with her.
She too will court the man who is uncircumcised in the flesh and lie against his breast with great passion, for he thrusts inside her a long time because of his foreskin, which is a barrier against ejaculation in intercourse. Thus she feels pleasure and reaches an orgasm first. When an uncircumcised man sleeps with her, and then resolves to return to his home, she brazenly grabs him, holding on to his genitals and says to him, “Come back, make love to me.” This is because of the pleasure that she finds in intercourse with him, from the sinews of his testicles—sinew of iron—and from his ejaculation—that of a horse which he shoots like an arrow into her womb. They are united without separating, and he makes love twice and three times in one night, yet the appetite is not filled.
And so he acts with her night after night. The sexual activity emaciates him of his bodily fat, and afflicts his flesh, and he devotes his brain entirely to women, an evil thing. His heart dies within him; between her legs he sinks and falls. He is unable to see the light of the King’s face, because the eyes of the intellect are plastered over by women so that they cannot now see light.
But when a circumcised man desires the beauty of a woman, and cleaves to his wife, or to another woman comely in appearance, he will find himself performing his task quickly, emitting his seed as soon as he inserts his crown. If he lies with her once, he sleeps satisfied, and will not know her again for another seven days. This is the way a circumcised man acts time after time with the woman he loves. He has an orgasm first; he does not hold back his strength. As soon as he begins intercourse, he immediately comes to a climax.
She has no pleasure from him when she lies down on when she arises, and it would be better for her if he had not known her and not drawn near to her, for he arouses her passsion to no avail, and she remains in a state of desire for her husband, ashamed and confounded, while the seed is still in her “reservoir.” She does not have an orgasm once a year except on rare occasions, because of the great heat and the fire burning within her. Thus he who says “I am the Lord’s” will not empty his brain because of his wife or the wife of his friend. He will find grace and good favor; his heart will be strong to seek out God. he will not fear to behold that which is beyond, and when He speaks to him, he will not turn away.
Rabbi Isaac ben Yedaiah. Translation in: Marc Saperstein. Decoding the Rabbis: A Thirteenth-Century Commentary on the Aggadah. Cambridge, Mass, and London, England: Harvard University Press, 1980: pp.97-98.
(File revised 14 July 2007)