The Reduction of Lust and the Unmanning of Men

Shaye J. D. Cohen

in Why Aren't Jewish Women Circumcised?

Published by University of California Press

Published in print September 2005 | ISBN: 9780520212503
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520920491 | DOI:
The Reduction of Lust and the Unmanning of Men

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This chapter discusses the question: What does the absence of circumcision from Jewish women tell us about Jewish men? It argues that Jewish men need to be circumcised in order to remedy some defect which inheres in Jewish men; Jewish women do not need to be circumcised because this defect does not inhere in them. The purpose of circumcision is to weaken the male organ, in order to minimize lust and diminish sexual pleasure. Using interpretation of Maimonides' view of circumcision, the chapter argues that circumcision is not primarily a sign of the covenant between God and Israel, and that the absence of this sign from women says nothing about their place in the covenantal relationship between God and Israel. Rather, Maimonides says that the purpose of circumcision is to reduce lust. It reduces male potency; if maleness is defined as sexual vigor, circumcision is an act of unmanning.

Keywords: Maimonides; lust; unmanning; covenantal relationship; sexual vigor

Chapter.  13230 words. 

Subjects: Judaism and Jewish Studies

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