Torah.org Home Subscribe Services Support Us
 
Print Version

Email this article to a friend

Lech Lecha

Attitude Conditioning

By Rabbi Pinchas Avruch

As a means of increasing the capacity of the human to bond with his Creator, G-d gave Avraham (Abraham) the mitzvah (Divine commandment) of milah (circumcision). This surgery involves removal of the "orlah", a term which does not so much designate a part of the anatomy as much as it refers to a barrier which inhibits our spiritual growth. "You shall circumcise the flesh of your orlah [commonly translated as 'foreskin'] and that shall be the sign of the covenant between Me and you." (Beraishis/Genesis 17:11) The Torah notes that Avraham performed milah on himself "on that very day" (17:23 & 26). Rashi explains that the exceptional wording refers to Avraham's conviction to perform the commandment immediately, not to wait until it was dark. A later hour would have allowed his enemies and others of his era to claim, "If we would have seen, we would have prevented him from fulfilling the Divine will."

We find this unique wording of "on that very day" in the episodes of Noah's entry into the ark, the Children of Israel's exodus from Egypt and Moshe's climbing Mount Nevo to die. Rashi explains that these three are similar as all three had antagonists who did not want these events to occur and could have threatened to prevent them. But the masses did not smash the ark, the Egyptians did harm one Jew as they left slavery and the Jewish nation could do nothing to stop Moshe's demise. In all three cases, G-d's design was realized. But why does Rashi only link those three together? Why is Avraham's fulfillment of the Divine will despite the potential objections of others not included? And why is there a need to say "on that very day" twice?

Rabbi Moshe Feinstein (1895-1986; Rosh Yeshiva/Dean of Mesivtha Tifereth Jerusalem in New York City; the leading Halachic/Jewish legal decisor and foremost leader of Torah Jewry of his time) clarifies that, unlike the other three incidents linked by Rashi, Avraham's milah was really his own personal affair, an issue that did not directly effect the greater public. Additionally, they were not so evil as to spitefully prevent the completion of his charge. Rather, despite the fact they would not stop him, they would ridicule him - an incredibly powerful deterrent. Avraham needed spiritual reinforcement. Akin to the teaching of our Sages (Tractate Mo'ed Kattan 27a) that a transgression performed twice accustoms one to embrace the misdeed as permissible, similarly, performing numerous times in the face of scoffers habituates one to fulfill G-d's will with ease in adverse conditions. Avraham's completion of milah on the multiple members of his household - alluded to by the multiple references to "that very day" - habituated him to not cower under the glare of others.

The knowledge that G-d has given us the mitzvos as a gift with which we forge our connection to Him is a powerful motivator. The skeptical stare of others can be a powerful counterforce. Our spiritual "muscles" of motivation and resolve need advance training and conditioning if they are to perform properly in our times of challenge.

Have a Good Shabbos!


Copyright © 2002 by Rabbi Pinchas Avruch and Project Genesis, Inc.

Kol HaKollel is a publication of the Milwaukee Kollel Center for Jewish Studies 5007 West Keefe Avenue; Milwaukee, Wisconsin; 414-447-7999

 

ARTICLES ON KI SEITZEI AND ELUL / ROSH HASHANAH:

View Complete List

Thanks to Egypt
Rabbi Yisroel Ciner - 5760

Yehi Ratzon - Text and Instructions
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5760

'Sin... Don't Laugh!'
Rabbi Yaakov Menken - 5755

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

Rabbi Frand on Rosh HaShana
- 5769

Better Let Him Die Innocent...
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5755

Tough Love
Rabbi Naftali Reich - 5768

Looking for a Chavrusah?

Repentance and Changing History
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5759

Wayward Son
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5760

The Month of Elul: Customs
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5758

ArtScroll

Uniforms vs. Uniformity
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5767

The Ever-Present
Rabbi Label Lam - 5774

Be a New Person
Rabbi Yaakov Menken - 5763

> First in the Mind!
Rabbi Label Lam - 5763

To Crown a King
Shlomo Katz - 5767

By Giving
Rabbi Label Lam - 5775

Is Mankind Strong Enough?
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5771



Project Genesis

Torah.org Home


Torah Portion

Jewish Law

Ethics

Texts

Learn the Basics

Seasons

Features

TORAHAUDIO

Ask The Rabbi

Knowledge Base




Help

About Us

Contact Us



Free Book on Geulah!




Torah.org Home
Torah.org HomeCapalon.com Copyright Information