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Parshas Shemos – Bris Milah

Written by Rabbi Rudman, 24/12/2018

 A theme that we find going through this week’s Parsha is the idea of Bris Milah. In the actual Pasuk, we learn that as Moshe is returning to Egypt from Midyan, since there is a failure to circumcise this son, he is punished. But if we examine more deeply, we can see as a thread running through the events of Yetzias Mitzrayim.

If we return all the way to the beginning of the in Egypt, we find that Yosef would not provide food to the Egyptians till they performed Milah. Then, when the enslavement begins, there is a Midrash that the Bais HaLevi explains, that Klal Yisroel were weak in the performance of this crucial Mitzvah. Then Moshe is born, and he is born already circumcised. As we began, Moshe is negligent in the performance of this Mitzvah on his way to Egypt. And the final act of the Geulah, is to do Bris Milah along with Korban Pesach, and through those sacrifices to merit the Geulah. What is the thread that attaches these incidents?

If we begin[1], that which Yosef told the Egyptians that he would not give them food, unless they performed Bris Milah is unusual. Milah is the sign of Klal Yisroel, and why is he making another nation perform it? According to the ARIZ”L, those who did perform Milah in Egypt, are the ones who ultimately do convert and leave Egypt with Klal Yisroel. However, that is not something positive, since they are the Erev Rav, who are always the downfall of Klal Yisroel in the travels through the Midbar. But in order to create a clean space for Klal Yisroel in Egypt, Yosef needed to counteract the Tumah of Mitzrayim. That is why he had the Egyptians do perform Milah.

However, this did not work. Once Yosef died this decree of his was annulled. The Jews then knew they were going to be in exile in Egypt for a lengthy period. They therefore decided to try to minimize the differences between themselves and the Egyptians. The most obvious difference was Milah. Explains the Bais HaLevi at the beginning of Shemos, that they did not stopperforming Bris Milah. What they did was, perfrom the Bris, and return the Orlah, so it seemed as if they did not perform the Bris. Thus they did the Mitzvah, but were able to assimilate. However, this did not work. Klal Yisroel’s relationship with the nations is different. The more we try to be like them, the they hate us. So this itself caused more enmity.

When Moshe is born, he is already with a Milah. He is the first child who could not be like the Egyptians even if he wanted to. He represents the beginning of Geulah. But surprisingly, he is the one raised in the house of Pharaoh.

But when he returns to Egypt, he makes a mistake. His son Eliezer was just born, and Moshe was faced with a dilemma. He begins to travel towards Egypt, with his uncircumcised son, in order to fuflfill HaShem’s command. However, when he arrives at an inn, he does not immediately circumcise him, bit arranges their lodgings first. This is a sin, and Moshe is threatened with death. Only when Tziporah performs the Milah, is he saved. Possibly, the severity is that the whole merit of Klal Yisroel is that they will perform Milah and immediately travel into the desert. You Moshe are turning things around. Milah is something which is inherently dangerous. Do not do it in a way of ‘Teva’, but do it on the eighth day which is above the natural order of things. Only like that can we leave Egypt.

The final act of the Geulah is Bris Milah with the Korban Pesach. When we are ready to openly and proudly disassociate ourselves from the nations, can the Geulah arrive.

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