Shabbat Morning Class - Parasha Behalotkha
Rabbi Mansour 2012
Shabbat Morning Class
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This Shabbat we are fortunate to celebrate with some of our congregants, who will this week perform the Misvah of Berit Mila on their newborn sons. In honor of the Abi Habenís, we focus on the ceremony of the Berit Mila and specifically on one of the blessings that the congregation gives to both the father and the baby;
"??? ????? ????? ?? ???? ??????? ????? ??????? ????? ??????? ?????" -
"Just as you entered the Berit so too you should merit to be entered into Torah, Misvot, Marriage, and good deeds"
It seems as if there is some kind of connection between the Berit Mila,and the rest of the Misvot mentioned. We say "???-??" just as you entered the Berit-so too you should be entered into Torah etcÖ What is the connection between Berit Mila and Torah, Chupah, and good deeds; in that we ask that the same way he did the Mila he should also do (in that "same way") Torah, Misvot, Marriage, and good deeds?
1. The first is a very basic understanding; we are simply wishing the boy life and vitality! It is written that the first 30 days of a childís life it is not known whether or not he is a healthy viable child. Only after 30 days do we see that the child is in fact healthy enough to live. This is why the Misvah of Pidyon Haben is performed only after 30 days.
It says that one time one of the Rabbis encountered the angel of death. The angel was looking depressed. The Rabbi inquired of the angel as to why he was depressed. The angel explained that there was a certain newborn baby that was destined to die, and was on the angelís "death list". On the morning of his Bris the father pulled out some wine and poured everyone to drink, the father exclaimed "if you think this wine is good, wait until his wedding, and you will see what kind of superior wine I will serve you"! All in attendance answered
Amen, and sincerely blessed the child with health, that he should merit to grow up to get married. This, explained the angel of death, is why they are no longer allowing me to take this baby. The blessing of the people had saved the baby! We see from here the power of a blessing to the boy, wishing him health to grow up, and get married, and continue on a life of Misvot. This is especially necessary on the day of the Mila, because it is on that day that the destructive angels want to harm the child. It is also for this reason that we have the custom to stay up the night before the Mila, and read the Zohar in the house where the baby is. This affords the necessary protection for the child, and helps keep him safe from the forces that try and prevent him from the Berit Milah.
The people declare " "???-?? , just as he has merited the Mila, so too he shall live and be healthy to grow up for a life of Torah, Marriage, and good deeds.
2. Everything in life should be done ??? ???? -for the sake of heaven. Many times in life we find ourselves being drawn to certain Misvot, often however there are ulterior motives built in. It may be honor, prestige, status, money, or any other motive that motivates us to perform certain Misvot. There is however one Misvah that is done 100% ??? ???? , with no other ulterior motive possible, and that is the Misvah of Berit Mila. A person cuts the skin of his 8 day old baby for no reason, other than it is a commandment of Hashem. It is the most pure Misvah that is done solely for the sake of heaven. We bless the child that just as he merited this Misvah of Berit Mila that is 100% ???
???? , so too the subsequent Misvot that he will perform in his life should be ??? ???? . His Torah that he will learn should be for the sake of heaven, and not for honor or glory, and his marriage should be a marriage for the right reason, not a marriage for money or for other improper reasons. Just as the motives behind the Misvah of Mila were pure, so too the motives behind all the Misvot for his life should be pure.
"?????? ????? ?????? ?? ????" . 3 -"when someone starts a Misvah we tell him to finish!" People are usually excited to start a project and to begin a Misvah, but afterwards they tend to "cool off" and not finish what they started. For this reason the Rabbiís advise, and encourage the man to finish what he has started.
This happens as well to a father of a newborn baby, the father is excited about his child. He has great plans and aspirations for him, and he is motivated to put all of his efforts into this baby. However as often happens, as the boy grows older the father begins to "settle" on things, and no longer puts all of his efforts into the boy. "Itís o.k. if he turns out to be just a good boy" he reasons. What happened to all of the high hopes?! Why does the father settle for mediocrity, when he originally expected only the best?! The father had obviously lost his enthusiasm and excitement is raising the boy, and for this reason we implore the father of the baby; just as you feel the excitement and motivation now, at the time of the Berit Mila- to raise your child with all your efforts, so too this feeling of enthusiasm should stay with you throughout his growth, and you should guide him in Torah, Misvot, and to marry him off- all with the same vigor and dedication.
4. It says that there are 3 pillars on which the world stands on; Torah, service of the Bet Hamikdash (or in todayís time prayer), and good deeds. In the times of the Bet Hamikdash they would inaugurate the Kohanim into the service of the Mikdash by having the Kohen offer a sacrifice, and then they would put the blood on his right earlobe, thumb, and big toe. The three places they would place the blood, symbolize these three pillars that the world stands on. The ear stands for the Torah - we listen to the instruction of the Torah, and they put blood on the ear of the Kohen to symbolize this. The service of the Mikdash is done with the hands, so the blood is placed on the finger of the Kohen, and finally, good deeds are performed with oneís feet. One must "get up and run" in times of need, and the feet symbolize the Kohen running to do good deeds. Similarly, in a personís life there needs to be symbolization for these three pillars. It says "???? ????
????? ?????" -"you should be for me a kingdom of Kohanim" we all are
required to be a type of Kohen, and we are also required to have these three pillars firmly implanted in our lives. In the ceremony of the Berit Mila, the baby is like a sacrifice, the father (or Mohel) is like the one performing the "slaughtering", and the Sandak is like a ???? . All of the components of ????? are present in the Berit Mila. ????? is one of the three pillars, and it takes place at the moment of the Berit Mila. The people in attendance wish the boy that just as you have now symbolized ????? , so too you should merit having the other two pillars be a part of your life. We bless him with "???? and ???? " as they go hand in hand, in that one cannot fully study the Torah without a wife. We then bless the boy with ????? ????? . This of course stands for good deeds. We mention the other two pillars ????, ????? ????? to bless the child that he merit to live his life with all 3 pillars of the world ????, ?????, ?????? ????? .
5. Children often think that they know more than their parents. They think of their parents as being "outdated", and not understanding the way things work in the current time. When people get older they realize that in fact their parents were a step ahead of them all along, and were much wiser than they realized. The years of experience, and the knowledge accumulated cannot be paralleled by the youngsters.
For this reason, parents should be the ones to make the important decision of a childís life. What school they should go to, who their friends should be, who they should marry etcÖ They know better than the child what is best for him. We bless the baby boy that just like by his Berit Mila, he didnít question his parents and instead trusted them whole heartedly in the performance of the Berit Mila (the 8 day old is obviously not going to contest the Misvah being done to him!), so too when it comes to the big decisions that will come up in his life such as; which Yeshiva to study Torah, who to marry, how to act, he should trust his parents judgment and know that their decisions are based on their experience and love for him.
"???? ????? ??? ????" . 6 -"the crown of the elders are their grandchildren" Hacham Baruch ztíl asked; why are the grandchildren the crown of the elders, Why arenít their children considered as a crown?? Why is it only the grandchildren that are considered crowns to them?? He answered, that parents generally raise their children in an upright religious manner, they teach them Midot and all of the good traits. The children accept and go by the rules of the parents, except sometimes, when they get older they stray from the proper path. This shows that all those years that they were behaving and acting in a religious manner was only because they were under the "same roof" as their parents and therefore had to play by their rules. Once they get a chance to separate and go their own way, they begin to stray. A parent never knows if his discipline and his guidance of his child is being internalized in the child. This can only be seen when the boy grows up and has children of his own. When the son begins to raise his own children on the proper path, only then can the father rest assured that his lessons were internalized into his son. This is why the crown of an elder is his grandchild - because it is only then that the fruits of his labor are realized. When he sees his grandchild being raised the right way, he knows that his Chinuch was a success.
We want the lessons that we instill in our children to be permanent. We donít want them to grow older and "change" for the worse ?''? . We want the Misvot we teach them to be with them forever. This is symbolized by the Berit Mila. The Berit Mila never leaves a person. It is constant. It is with him, and always will be with him. It symbolizes consistency and stability. The boy will never veer from the Misvah of Mila. We bless the child that just as the Misvah of Mila is permanent, so too all of the Misvot and lessons that he will be taught by his parents should be permanent and internalized, and he should not ?''? stray off the proper path (we are also wishing the boy that his marriage be one of permanence, rather than a marriage ending in a separation for the wrong reasons).
7. The importance of a Jewish name. The moment that a father nameís his son is compared to a moment of
prophecy. Hashem puts in the fathers mind exactly what the name of the child should be, and this name represents the essence of the childís soul. There are many stories where the father was prepared to name the boy a certain name, but at the very last second another name just comes out of his mouth! This is not an accident, and Hashem causes the name to come out of his mouth because that was meant to be the boyís name. The Jewish name is the real name, and when we call someone by his Jewish name we are "speaking to his soul". For this reason it is very important to call our children primarily by their Hebrew name, this helps "awaken" the holy attributes associated with his name. A person is called by his Hebrew name at the time of his Mila, unfortunately often enough he is not called that name again until after he already passes from the world, as is hinted in Tehilim; " ":???? ?????? ??? ????? -"they are called by their names-those that are "of the ground".
"???" ????? ????? ; The word ??? ("just as") also means; ?-??
("like the name").
We bless the boy that just as he is called by his Jewish name at the time of his Berit Mila, so too he should be called by this name, and use this name throughout his life and in all his Simahot that he will celebrate in his life.
We also are blessing the boy that the name he is given at his Berit Mila should be the name used throughout his life - and there should be no need to add to his name (when one is very sick, they are given an additional name), thereby blessing him with health throughout his life.
8. Sometimes parents worry about the fragility of their child. They say "he is too young", "too weak", or "he canít handle this yet". We often donít push our children enough in important areas, and instead give the excuse that they are not ready for this yet.
We must not underestimate the potential of our children. We should not minimize their capabilities, and we must motivate them, and push them to the proper point to bring out all of their potentials. Children are much brighter than we may think, and their minds are
capable of understanding an incredible amount of information. We must not give excuses such as Ďthey canít handle it".
There is one Misvah that no parent is afraid that the Misvah is too much for their child to handle. This is the Misvah of Mila. Even though the child is a mere 8 days old, he is tender and delicate, we still bring him out in public, take a knife and cut his body. Nobody is afraid at the time of the Mila about the childís inability to handle it. We bless the father of the baby that just like at this time he is confident that his son can handle the Misvah, so too in the future as the child grows he should maintain this attitude, and not let the child "slack off" with the excuse that the Misvot are "too much for him"!
9. Tradition is something that should never be changed. We have seen the unfortunate consequences over the years of the changes made by the reform and conservative Jews. The result is people barely knowing that they are Jewish! Once a Jew begins to deviate even slightly everything begins to unravel. Just as when we take a single page out of a book, the entire binding begins to unravel-so too Judaism. With one change everything falls apart! We must keep the traditions of our fathers and mothers. Shabbat is the same Shabbat as it has been for thousands of years, and its laws are exactly the same. Marriage is the same, and the Torah that we study is the same exact Torah. With no alterations or modifications! This is an integral lesson for us and our children. There is one Misvah that all Jews still perform, and that is the Misvah of Berit Mila. Conservative, reform, and orthodox Jews alike circumcise their son on the 8th day.
We pray that just like the father performed the Berit Mila without any deviation, so too the boy will not deviate from the tradition, and learn the pure Torah without adding any "modern ideas". He should marry properly, without being affected by the new types of "accepted marriages". He should do the good deeds that are truly good and great in Torah and Misvot in our sacred tradition that dates back thousands of years.
These 9 answers by no means exhaust all the possible explanations of this statement. We had an additional 4 explanations to say today, but have run out of time! These are but a drop in the ocean, of the reasons for the establishment of this blessing said at the Mila, and the Rabbis who established it had every one of these understandings in mind! May we merit to appreciate, and cherish all of our holy traditions, and upkeep them in health and happiness. Amen!