Friday, November 13, 2015

Dvar Torah at the Bris

Some years ago we posted a collaborative Dvar Torah involving a Chasam Sofer.  I now combined it with what we've written in  Bris and Limud HaTorah, added a new twist, and used it at Aharon Tzvi ben Harav Moshe's bris.

The Chasam Sofer brings the Medrash that the Bris is on the eighth day because the baby has to see "Matronissa," Shabbos, before getting the kedusha of the Bris.  He asks that the number should be either seven or nine, but not eight.  If  you need 24 hours of Shabbos, it should be nine, because with eight, you will often not have all 24 hours.  If the baby's born Shabbos afternoon, and the Bris is Shabbos morning,  you might only have eight hours of Shabbos.  So clearly, you don't need all 24 hours of Shabbos.

So if you only need part of Shabbos, seven days should suffice, because you'll always have some Shabbos before the Bris.  The answer has to be that if you only would wait seven days, then if the baby is born Shabbos afternoon and you make the Bris Friday, he will have seen the end of Shabbos but not its beginning.  If he's born on Sunday and you make the Bris on Shabbos, he will see the beginning of a Shabbos, but not the end.  It must be that although he does not need 24 hours of Shabbos, he does need both the beginning and the end of Shabbos.

This is a perfect answer, but it cries out for explanation.

As mentioned by Reb Akiva Eiger in the Teshuvos (42,) Bris Millah is the hechsher for learning Torah.  This is in a Tanchuma and in the Ollelos Ephraim and implicit in the Gemara in Nedarim, that both are necessary to the existence of the world.

There is a machlokes (e.g., Beitzah 15b,) R Eliezer and R Yehoshua how to explain the pesukim that say lachem (for you) and Lashem (for God) by Yomtov.  R Eliezer- either or.  R Yehoshua- half and half.  Rav Elozor says, everyone agrees that on Shavuos you need half and half- it is the day of Mattan Torah!

But why is Mattan Torah mechayeiv half and half?  Adderaba, kulo lashem would be even more appropriate.  It appears that Torah enables a person to take gashmiiyus and make it into ruchniyus.  Only Torah allows us to make this change, to take an inherent conflict and make it harmonize, to resolve the tension between physicality and spirituality.

We find this concept by Milah as well.  Yaakov gave a bracha to Yosef, saying that Klal Yisrael will say Yesimcha Elokim k'Epphraim v'chiMenashe.  Targum Yonasan there says that this is the bracha given by a Bris.  Rav Schwab explains that the idea of Milah is like Mahul, blended, to blend olam hazeh and olam habah and make them into a perfect combination.  Both Ephraim and Menashe.   In fact, when you think about it, it is obvious that the Bris Millah, which is so holy that Eliezer used it in place of a Sefer Torah when he swore an oath, is specifically at the most  gashmiyusdikkeh, animalistic, part of the human body.  Davka there we create the Os Bris Kodesh, because even that part of the body can be a davar shebikdushah.

So we see that both Torah and Milah (which is the machshir for Torah,) enable a person to take gashmiyus and ruchniyus and make them into a perfect combination.  Milah is a charge from the Ribono shel Olam "Be a Malach!  And be a Mentsch!"

With this we go back to the Chasam Sofer.  The beginning of Shabbos means Kiddush, the invocation of mei'ein Olam Haba, the world of pure ruchniyus.  The end of Shabbos means Havdala.  Havdala is not "Goodbye Shabbos."  Havdala is Kiddush on the Sheishes Y'mei Ha'Maaseh.  It is the means of bringing the perfect kedusha of Shabbos into the chulin weekdays.  Every day we say Rishon beShabbos, Sheini beShabbos.....

Only after a child experiences the kedusha of pure ruchniyus, of malachim, and the kedusha of being mekadeish gashmiyus, only after he sees the life of Ephraim and Menasheh, and the idea of chatzi lashem and chatzis lachem, only then can he have the Bris Millah.

Indeed, the Bach says that Aleinu is the bridge between standing in Tefilla and going out to the world- and after the Bris, we all say Aleinu.  This idea of a bridge, a harmonizing of the olam ruchni and the olam gashmi, is the essence of Bris Milah.