Rabbi’s Message

The weekly Parsha – Parshas Lech Lecha

Published on October 25, 2020

In this week’s Torah portion, Lech Lecha, we read that G-d commanded Abraham that he and all his male descendants have a brit mila (circumcision).

And so, at the age of 99, Abraham circumcised himself, thereby entering into a covenant with G-d.

This is so significant, that even today, when a Jewish male has a brit, the blessing we say is “to enter him into the covenant of Abraham our father.”

Interestingly, in the Mishne Torah, Maimonides explains that a brit is not done because of G-d’s command to Abraham, but rather because of G-d’s command to Moses at Sinai.

The same is true regarding all mitzvot (commandments) that our ancestors kept before the giving of the Torah. Our observance stems, not from the traditions we received from our forebears, but rather from them being commandments given to us by G-d at Mount Sinai.

If this is the case, why do we say, “to enter him into the covenant of Abraham our father”? Wouldn’t it make more sense to say, “to enter him into the covenant with G-d?”

The Shulchan Aruch Harav of Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi, the first Rebbe of Chabad, explains that the soul enters the body at the brit. When a baby is born, the soul is already present, just not yet fused with the physical body.

The act of the brit on the physical body fuses the physical and the spiritual, the new soul with the body. (For a girl, the fusion happens at her naming. This is why the custom according to Jewish mysticism is to name a girl at the Torah at the first possible opportunity.)

This is also the purpose of every Jew, to make this world into a dwelling place for G-d’s presence, by fusing physical existence with holiness. We do this by using physical objects and places, in their natural state, for mitzvot or to serve G-d.

Perhaps the answer can be found in the reason given for why we make such a big deal of Abraham’s sacrifice at the Akeida, the binding of his son Isaac on the altar. Throughout our history, many have sacrificed themselves in a similar fashion and perhaps greater, without having had a direct command from Hashem, as did Abraham. But he was the first, which breaks the ice for the rest.

So also, by having the first brit Abraham led the way and made it a little easier for later generations. But the analogy is not quite the same. A brit is done to a baby, who has no idea what Abraham did or didn’t do. So the baby is in a way also a first. And that is the reason why we say the blessing, “to enter him into the covenant of Abraham.” Because just like Abraham, everyone who has a brit, is as if he is the first.

We must see any painful situation as a mission from G-d, and we will find meaning, purpose and maybe even joy in them.
May G-d send Moshiach and put an end to our pain. The time has come. Moshiach NOW!!!