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The Significance of a Bris

Posted on ב׳ באייר ה׳תש״ע (April 16, 2010) | in Tazria | by

This Dvar Torah is in honor of my beautiful son, Azariah Simcha, who had is bris yesterday.

This is a very auspicious week to have a Bris, as the third pasuk in the Parsha is:

וּבַיּוֹם, הַשְּׁמִינִי, יִמּוֹל, בְּשַׂר עָרְלָתו

And in the eighth day the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised

I would like to focus on two questions: What is the significance of the Bris Mila and why is the Bris on the 8th day?

To start to answer these questions, we first need to understand what the purpose of the Bris Mila is. The Sefer HaChinnuch gives one possible explanation. He says that Hashem created us imperfect physically to teach us that just as we have it in our power to perfect ourselves physically, so too we have to do something to perfect ourselves spiritually.

Explaining the significance of the number 8, the Kli Yakar says that the number 7 represents physicality and nature, while 8 is “l’maalah min haTeva” above nature. In last week’s parsha, we read about how the shechina only entered the mishkan on the 8th day. So too, we do the bris on the 8th day to show the spiritual nature of the bris.

Since we live in the physical world, where there are only 7 days in the week, how can we understand the explanation of the Sefer HaChinuch? Since we can’t just jump into the “8th dimension”, how can the bris be a lesson for us that we can accomplish spiritual improvement.

The Or HaChaim, in a long essay, gives a seemingly different reason. He says in part that the reason the bris is on the 8th day is that Hashem is doing a chesed for the little baby boy by giving him time to get some strength before doing the Bris. However this is not just pure physical strength. Rather, the strength he needs is having lived through one Shabbat. By having the bris on the 8th day, it is guaranteed that the baby will have at least 1 whole shabbat under his belt, so to speak.

If this were the case, however, why would we need to mandate 8 days for every boy? Any time after 1 shabbat has past should be enough?

I think that in reality, the ideas of the Kli Yakar and Or HaChaim are related. We live in this physical world, which is a place of action. We are commanded both to keep Shabbat as well as to work on the other 6 days (as it says “Sheshet Yamim Ta’avod, v’asita kol melachtecha” – for 6 days you should labor and do all of your work.) Hashem has given us this opportunity to do all of the Mitzvot and to develop our relationship with Him. By drawing our strength from Shabbat and maximizing who we are and what we accomplish during the other 6 days of the week, we are able to make ourselves ready to receive our spiritual circumcision on the “8th day.”

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3 Responses to “The Significance of a Bris”

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  2. Deb Fowler says:

    Beautifully spoken on Azariah’s behalf, Liron. Thanks


  3. Jesse says:

    The Bris also is the removing of the orlah–the sexual organs. We show that Hashem is involved in when we seek sexual pleasures and when we reproduce

    A bris also is a differentiation between us and the goyim: it serves as a yellow star wherever we go. We could hide it, but when we choose to assimilate us–it will protect us


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