Friday, April 23, 2021

briso shel Avraham

I had the pleasure this morning of going to the bris of my niece's new baby.  It just so happens that in this week's perek in Avos there is a Mishna that speaks about milah.  The Mishna tells us (3:11) that וְהַמֵּפֵר בְּרִיתוֹ שֶׁל אַבְרָהָם אָבִינוּ עָלָיו הַשָּׁלוֹם has no cheilek in olam ha'ba.  As we once discussed, what הַמֵּפֵר בְּרִיתוֹ  means is not clear.  Rashi learns it means the person did not get a milah; Rambam learns that he is mosheich b'briso and tries to hide the milah.  According to Rashi, why doesn't the Mishna just say simply "ha'mevateil milah?"  Why the long winded הַמֵּפֵר בְּרִיתוֹ שֶׁל אַבְרָהָם אָבִינוּ עָלָיו הַשָּׁלוֹם?  Secondly, are more fundamentally, we always start Avos by saying "kol yisrael yesh lahem cheilek l'olam ha'ba."  Everybody gets olam ha'ba.  There are few exceptions which are discussed in the last perek in Sanhedrin, but the sugyos there never mention being mevateil the mitzvah of milah as being on the list.  Where does this din come from?

Maharal explains that meifer bris has no olam ha'ba because it falls into the category of someone who denies Torah min ha'shamayim, which is mentioned there at the end of Sanhedrin.  Bris is not just about cutting off a bit of skin; it's about forging a relationship with G-d. That's why the Mishna speaks about "meifer bris" and not just about "mevateil milah."   Belief in Torah is the foundation for and the means of forging that relationship.  

The gemara darshens that the pasuk "sas anochi al  imrasecha k'motzei shalal rav" is speaking about bris.  It's like finding a treasure, winning the mega millions.  A normal person who wins the mega millions jackpot cannot spend those hundreds of millions in one day, in one month, in one year.  That much $ should last a lifetime.  So too bris milah forges a relationship with Hashem that sticks with a person through his entire lifetime.

While we are holding in sefirah it's worth touching on another point with regards to milah.  There is a minority view in Rishonim that says milah done at night is kosher; there is a minority view that says milah done before the 8th day is kosher.  The common denominator between both views is that they allow for milah done at the wrong time.  Rama for some reason splits the psak and holds that milah done at night is completely pasul; milah done before the 8th day is kosher b'dieved.  

Shach asks: the gemara (Menachos 72) makes a l'shitaso between the view that holds the cutting of the omer must be done only at night and not by day and the opinion that cutting the omer is doche Shabbos.  The logic of the gemara is that if even b'dieved the omer can be cut by day, then why break Shabbos to harvest it -- cut the omer on Friday before Shabbos starts.  By the very same token, asks the Shach, if b'dieved a milah can be done before day 8, then why do we allow a bris milah on Shabbos?  Just do it the day before!

Many Achronim point out that the Rambam seems to contradict this gemara as well.  Rambam paskens in Temidim 7:4 וזמנו קבוע ולפיכך דוחה את השבת ואת הטומאה: yet he also paskens in 7:7 וכל הלילה כשר לקצירת העומר. ואם קצרוהו ביום כשר:  

Too long a topic to deal with now on a Friday : ( 


  1. -- if, for Rambam, kares entails a loss of olam haba (Teshuvah 8:1), then leaving oneself uncircumcised, Bereishis 17:14, already teaches the loss of the world to come. the Mishna >must be adding something<, namely "mosheich b'briso".

    -- "'s about forging a relationship with G-d"

    the baby seeks only his mother's breast, not the slicing motion of his father's hand. why should our 8-day-old later seek to forge his own "relationship with G-d", after what began with violence done to his person before a celebratory crowd?

    -- link.

    "one bracha is on the mitzvah of...maintaining the state of being mahul." if that were so, why would the father's absence delete the bracha (Rambam, Milah 3:1 ["Netziv uses the shitas haRambam"])?

    "Menachos 43": was it mutar for David to think in Torah terms while in a bathhouse?

  2. link, paragraphs 1 & 2.

    what "Rambam writes at the end of hil milah" can be divided across Bereishis 17:10, the bris itself, and :11, its sign of a bris (between Hashem and Avraham's house) [Rambam's failing to perform milah, and "trying to cover up the milah"].

    in 17:10 we find zar'acha acharecha, a bris declared between Hashem and Avraham's seed (in addition to Avraham's house); "[w]hy does the Torah add these words" at 17:13? to declare that bris between Hashem and household slaves. but where is the declared sign of a bris between Hashem and zar'acha acharecha, and between Hashem and household slaves?