Vol 10.08 - Lecha 2                  Spanish French Audio  Video

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(5733) The blessing to "enter him into the Covenant of Abraham"  


In our Parsha we are told about the command from G-d to Avraham Avinu to circumcise himself and his household, and that when he fulfills this commandment becomes the “first of the circumcised” – the head and first for all who enter the holy covenant (of Circumcision)between G-d and everyone of Yisroel.

So much so, that in the nusach (text) of the blessing for Brit Milah we say: “to enter him into the Covenant of Avraham Avinu” – namely that the Brit Milah that we are fulfilling now is connected and traced to that of Avraham Avinu – for since he is “(Avraham) Avinu (our father), he inherits and bestows to every one of his progeny that inherit, the power to enter into the covenant with G-d. 
In the boundaries of inheritance it is known that:
1)       Inheritance is not dependent at all on the capability and preparation of the son to inherit. For even a one day old baby inherits all.
2)       Inheritance does not change the ownership of the bequester. Rather, the inheritor takes the exact place of the bequester.
It is understood from this, that the Bris of every one of Yisroel is the ‘Covenant of Avraham Avinu”, for the power and ability to enter this Covenant comes to him as an inheritance from Avraham Avinu. And since the inheritor – without looking at his status – takes the place of the bequester, as above, therefore, his Bris is the Bris of Avraham Avinu
2. But it must be understood
Rambam writes in the explanation of this Mitzvah: “We do not circumcise because Avraham Avinu, peace unto him, circumcised himself and his household but rather because G-d commanded Moshe Rabbeinu to circumcise” From this it is understood that even though the power to keep the Mitzvah of Milah was given to us as an inheritance from Avraham Avinu, nevertheless the Mitzvah itself, the way it is incumbent upon us is not an extension of the inheritance from the ‘Covenant of Avraham Avinu” but was founded and begun with the command of G-d through Moshe –
If so, why is this Mitzvah called the ‘Covenant of Avraham Avinu”?
And specifically according to the Midrash: “All the Mitzvot that the Patriarchs performed were empty but for us ‘Your name is like fragrant oil’” ( n.b. Like one who empties from one vessel to another i.e   like one who gives the oil himself)   Thus, our performance of Mitzvot has a greater addition and advantage over those kept by Avraham Avinu. – If so, how could the Mitzvah of Milah, that we perform, be the ‘Covenant of Avraham Avinu”?
We also need to understand:
The text of the blessing: “into the Covenant of Avraham Avinu” stresses the aspect of Avraham Avinu. It seemingly, would have been better to emphasize that the Covenant is with G-d, namely to “to enter him into the Covenant with G-d”
3. This can be understood by prefacing the words of the Alter Rebbe in his Shulchan Aruch that “the beginning of the holy soul entering etc is with the Mitzvah of Milah”
At first glance that is not understood: Even before the birth of a child, while he is still in his mother’s womb, “We teach him the entire Torah”. Thus even before his birth, he has within him a holy soul, which is what learns “the entire Torah” – How does this fit with the above statement that the beginning of the holy soul entering is at the time of the Brit Milah, which is the eighth day of his birth?
The explanation is:
The meaning of “the holy soul entering” - is the inner connection of the Neshama (soul) with the body, so much so, that it unites and coalesces into one entity. The effect (of the Neshama on) the body is then apparent and recognizable. However, when the baby is still in the mother’s womb, even though it already possesses a holy soul (nefesh), nevertheless, not only has this Neshama, not yet “entered” and united with the body (as above), but also the effect of his vital soul (nafsho haChiyunis) is not recognizable and felt in his body - for he eats and drinks and is sustained from that which his mother eats etc.
And even after he is born, where the soul (nefesh) has already come to a connection with the body, what is recognizable and apparent in his body is,
not the effect and connection of the G-dly soul (Nefesh HaE-lokis) ( which is still at a level of transcendence (Makif) and latency (helem) within him), but
the Vital soul (nefesh haChiyunis). The inner entering if the holy soul (nefesh HaKedosha) into the body and its revealed connection is specifically effected and apparent through Brit Milah, because at that time, the “My Covenant in your flesh – an everlasting Covenant” is made. – The Covenant with G-d is impressed and sealed in the physical body’s flesh, until it is a “Covenant (that it apparent and recognizable even to the nations of the) world (bris olam)
4. And this is the advantage of the Mitzvah of Milah over the other Mitzvot:
All the Mitzvot intrinsically connect the person performing them with G-d the Commander – Mitzvah from the expression tzavsav'chibur, “cleaving and attachment – but this connection
is not   recognizable in the body that performs the Mitzvah.
For example, with a hand that distributes Tzedaka, even though the Mitzvah certainly effects a change even in the physical reality (metzius) of the hand – it is not a change that is apparent and recognizable in the physical flesh of the hand. This is not the case with the Mitzvah of Milah, and moreover – the whole aspect of the Mitzvah is that the change, through his Covenant with G-d, should be recognizable in the flesh of the body – visible (and) also (visible) to the nations, as above.
And in this aspect, the Covenant of Brit Milah is greater than the Covenant of Chorev (etc.). The covenant that G-d made with Bnei Yisroel at Sinai and in the plains of Moav was also with those who were not physically (bodily) present there. As it states: “those that are here etc and those that are not standing here today”. And it is explained in Pirke d’Rebbe Eliezer that this covenant was also with the past and future generations. Thus, the Covenant was with the Souls, for all of them were there at that event (Matan Torah). Like the well known saying, regarding each one of Bnei Yisroel including converts: “he stands adjured from Mount Sinai”
Moreover, those that were physically present there, only entered the “Covenant” because they heard the words of the Covenant through Moshe; For even though hearing is absorbed with the ear, one of the physical limbs of a person, nevertheless, the ear is only an intermediary through which the soul “hears” (through its power of spiritual hearing), and receives the thing that is heard. It is understood from this, that the Covenant of the plains of Moav (and similar ones) was primarily with the souls of Yisroel.
However, the Covenant of Brit Milah’s, aspect is “My Covenant in your flesh – an everlasting Covenant”. Until (even) the physical flesh of the body – even the “sod siyuma d’gufa” (the secret end of the body) - is connected with an everlasting covenant with G-d, as above. Thus, through this, a dwelling place for G-d in this world is made ("dirah lo Yisborach betachtonim), - a low world that has none lower than it.
And this is the whole aspect of the Mitzvah of Milah: While a child is eight days old, at the time when he is still devoid of any aspect of comprehension, understanding and intellect, due to the revelation of the Neshama and its spiritual powers, it is not fitting for him to enter the Covenant with G-d. Yet, with all this, the Torah placed upon him (the obligation) to be circumcised at this age – because the whole aspect of Brit Milah is that his physical body’s flesh is connected in a Covenant with G-d, as above. And this is possible even (and earlier) when the child is eight days old.
5. Accordingly we can understand the text of the blessing for Brit Milah we say “to enter him into the Covenant of Avraham Avinu”.
It is explained in (the sefer) “Pri HaAretz” from R’ MenachemMendel ofHorodok, the greatness (wonder) of the test of the Akedah ("Binding of Isaac") of Avraham Avinu. For even though, many Jews (even simple people) throughout the generations have stood the test of self-sacrifice (even similar to that of the “Akedah”), even without hearing a specific command from G-d Himself – nevertheless, Avraham Avinu ‘s, peace unto him, greatness has become, so much, that he is extolled with the test of the Akedah. - And the reason is because Avraham Avinu was the first to withstand this test, and in every similar situation, the “first” is most difficult. However, after the “first” has already “opened the conduit” and paved the way – then it is easier for those who come afterward, for they travel in his path and ways.

Yet all this concerns that which is dependent upon man’s understanding and feeling and in his Avodah. For in order to be able to overcome with this own strengths, hardships and obstacles (in this aspect ) - it helps in man’s Avodah when he knows and feels that  the “first” ( and specifically that he is his father) opened the conduit “for him and for all Bnei Yisroel” .
But when the situation concerns that which is not dependent upon man’s understanding and actions, but rather an action that is made on his body without readiness and preparation from his side – and specifically when it is a baby that does not have control and influence over his spiritual powers – it does not matter nor help at all, that which the thing was previously done;
Thus, in this situation, there is no difference between him and the “first” - for in this action he is the “first”, for he receives no help from those that preceded him.
And truthfully, this is also by an adult (and convert) that fulfils the Mitzvah of Milah – Even though he has understanding and feeling from before etc – for since the whole root of Mitzvat Milah, is to really (mamosh) enter the physical flesh into the Covenant with G-d, and as explained above at length, it is understood that in the act of the circumcision itself, any help that comes from spiritual powers that he utilizes
(namely those that come from the “first” and even those that come as a Segula (special help) as an inheritance) 
only affects the spiritual readiness and preparation in Brit Milah, but not in the action and physical ( natural) brit in the flesh of the body)
Therefore, each one that fulfils the Mitzvah of Brit Milah, whether he is young or old is considered “first” in this aspect.
With this we can understand that which we say: “to enter him into the Covenant of Avraham Avinu”.  For the essence and greatness of Avraham Avinu is that he was the first, as above. And since each one of his children who keep this Mitzvah are also on the level of “first”, they, therefore actually enter ‘into the Covenant of Avraham Avinu”.
6. Accordingly, we can explain another thing that requires clarification:
Why is Brit Milah connected with something that causes “pain to the child”?
And specifically, - since happiness is paramount in Avodat HaShem – as it states: “Serve G-d with joy”, why were we commanded from G-d to perform this great and critical Mitzvah, specifically in a manner of pain – the opposite of Joy?
 And even though that, which the act of circumcision causes pain ,is because it is the nature of the body (to react that way) in all actions like this – nevertheless, since all aspects of the world are exact and correspond to their counterparts above at their source ( since they derived from them)

And how much more so in the aspect of a Mitzvah – it is thus understood that the aspect of pain in a Brit Milah is with intent and has a specific purpose.

And specifically according to the opinion of the Acharonim, that the Mitzvah of Milah must specifically be performed with pain. (Therefore one must not completely or partially sedate the child in order to numb the pain) – Thus pain is certainly a critical aspect in Mtzvat Milah
And the explanation is:
The aspect of Mtzvat Milah is to draw down G-dliness also into the physical flesh of the body. For in this, it becomes a “dwelling place for G-d below” (Dirah b’tachtonim). This means that even in the lowest place, and as it is in his lowest place (b’tachtoniuta), he makes a dwelling place for G-d.
Therefore there must be in the flesh, the way that that it is in nature- which is limited (mugdar) in all of its properties - that even in the flesh, that feels pain with a Mitzvah, there must be the opposite of this (the Simcha). That even in such a low level, we effect that there should be an everlasting covenant with G-d
7. And the lesson is:
The Alter Rebbe writes in Shulchan Aruch: “A person does not have permission over his body at all etc. to cause himself any pain”. And it is understood from this, simply, that a person does not have permission to search for endeavors in a manner that will cause him pain. 
Notwithstanding this, when the situation is in an aspect of a mission (Shlichus) that will make a dwelling place for G-d, then, on the contrary, one is not allowed to refrain from this task due to any associated pain (difficulty) – And this is like (the saying of the Sages:): “Why are you meddling in "G-d's affairs?" 
For perhaps, specifically in this manner is he is fulfilling his task and mission.
And from this it is understood that whoever has been tasked with such a “mission” (Shlichus) is not allowed to evaluate whether to accept the mission. For man has personal bias (adam karov eitzel atzmo) and it is possible that he will change or abandon his resolve, and abandon the mission especially if because of pain. And even though he could attempt to dissuade the sender (meshaleach) by informin him , that according to his own (the emissary’s )opinion, he will have pain etc, nevertheless the actual decision must be that of the Sender (who certainly does not have any ulterior motives)
And on the contrary, when one dedicates himself to the task with all of his might, in addition to the power that (is given from the Sender), he will certainly be successful, and properly fulfill the mission that he was tasked with, - without pain and suffering. But rather with Simcha (happiness) and a glad heart – and he will make a dwelling place for G-d below
M’Sichas Shabbat Parshat Pinchas and Yud-tet Tammuz 5732


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