The TNG episode Ethics gave fans an up close look at brak’lul – a feature of Klingon anatomy where many vital organs have duplicates. For example, Klingons have two stomachs, three lungs, two livers, etc. Ever since then, fans on the Internet have wondered if Klingon males had two male members. In Star Trek Discovery there is a scene with a Klingon urinating in an alley that appears to give credence to this theory, which was later confirmed by Trek writers as canon. This raises some Jewish questions though – how would a Jewish Klingon be circumcised? Do both members need to be circumcised? If so, which one is done first?
Circumcise one or both?
The Talmud, in two places, mentions that someone with two foreskins has them both circumcised (Shabbat 135b, Yevamot 72a). Rashi explains that this includes both someone with two foreskins one on top of the other and also someone with two complete shafts. (We should note here that the second one is probably referring to a condition known as diphallia, an extremely rare genetic condition that results in two male organs). The general rule is codified in the Shulchan Aruch, Mishneh Torah, Tur, Semag, Aruch Hashulchan, and other places without argument.
Can the circumcision be done on shabbat?
The Talmud also mentions that this circumcision cannot be done on shabbat. Normally, if circumcision can be done on the eighth day, and that day is shabbat, the procedure is done on shabbat as the requirement to do a circumcision overrides shabbat. If a circumcision needs to be delayed for some reason, then it does not override the shabbat, and instead should be done later in the week. There are several statuses where circumcision is done on the eighth day, but they do not override shabbat because it is unclear if the circumcision is a biblical requirement. One example of this is an androgyous person. In the case of someone with two foreskins, it is unclear which is the “main” one, and therefore neither is allowed to be circumcised on shabbat because one of them is not the primary one (Mishnah Berurah 331:18). Although in Klingons it seems obvious that they’re both the “main” ones, the Torah uses singular language, and it would appear that there isn’t grounds to overturn the ruling of the Talmud that the circumcision doesn’t override shabbat.
Which one is done first?
The Torah has a general bias towards doing things on the right side first. For example, the right hand is washed first, the right shoe is put on first, etc. The exception is when things are tied, like tefillin or shoelaces, in which case priority is given to the left side. I have found no record of anyone discussing which side should be circumcised first, but following the general principle, it would seem to be better to circumcise the right one first. This is of course assuming the two organs are laid out side to side and not top to bottom.
3 thoughts on “Circumcising a Klingon”
I’ve never given thought to how a Jewish Klingon may approach circumcision, very interesting read.
Awesome post, gave me a lot to think about.
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