Parshat Lech Lecha
By: Herschel Karp (11th Grade)
In Parshat Lech Lecha, Avraham undergoes the first Brit Milah recorded in the Torah. However, as Rambam points out, Avraham was not the source of the commandment for Brit Milah; Hashem later commanded Bnei Yisrael through Moshe. This raises a question because the Bracha for Brit Milah states that it is the “Brit of Avraham our forefather." Clearly, this is not the case as evidence in the Torah points to Moshe. Why then do we attribute the Mitzvah to Avraham instead of Moshe?
There are two types of sacrifices that Avraham endured throughout his life. One of them was Akeidat Yitzchak, in which he attempted to sacrifice his son. Fundamentally, this was a form of self-sacrifice that came from a place of reasoning, understanding, and service to Hashem. Through this act of self sacrifice, Avraham blazed the trail and made it easier for future generations to rationalize their own sacrifices for Hashem. However, when it came to his other type of sacrifice, Brit Milah, Avraham did not pave the way for circumcision in the future to be any easier. There is no difference between the manner in which Avraham received a Milah and how we perform it nowadays. There is no understanding or rationalizating bodily harm, causing the same amount of physical pain for every person, regardless of their connection to Hashem. Unlike self-sacrifice, which is often done more by those who have a greater connection to Hashem, this lowly and basic form of pain, which needs no intellectual or emotional understanding, is done for every single Jewish boy. The Mitzvah and the holiness that it creates is the exact same for everyone. The Brit Milah causes pain because the purpose of it is to imbue holiness within the lowest realm of the physical world. It is specifically the lower elements of a person's physicality, which experience pain from a mitzvah, that are connected to Hashem through the bris.
The lesson we can all learn from this is that even when we have to experience pain or discomfort for something lowly, it still has a higher purpose. No matter how much we do not like doing something, from Mitzvot to school work, we have to recognize that we accomplish a lot by doing them, and we have the potential to bring holiness into the mundane.