By: Rabbi Moshe Goodman, Kollel Ohr Shlomo, Hebron
Inviting the Holy Presence in Our Holy Land
On the Eighth Day You Shall Circumcise
There are only two positive commandments in the Torah that are so severe that abstaining from them renders the transgressor liable of “karet,” spiritual “incision from the People”: circumcision and Korban Pesach. Interestingly, these commandments involve “incision”. In circumcision, it is the foreskin; in Korban Pesach, the slaughtering of the lamb. Also, there is a connection between these mitzvoth as the Korban Pesach cannot be eaten by one who is not circumcised himself or even when one of his sons (under Bar-mitzva age) or servants are not circumcised. Simply, we may explain that the fact that these two commandments are so important and also interconnected is due to the fact that these commandments represent the initiation of our People into the covenant of Hashem. Circumcision was the first commandment given to Avraham our Father in Hebron as part of the initiation of him and his offspring into the covenant with Hashem. Korban Pesach was the initiation of our People into the covenant of Hashem in the Exodus.
Examining this matter more deeply, we see that the term for circumcision in Hebrew, “brit mila,” can literally mean “covenant of the word.” The Arizal explains that Moshe Rabeinu’s state (at the time of the Exodus) as “uncircumcised of tongue,” was actually indicative of the entire People’s state in Exile, i.e “spiritual muteness”. Therefore, on the day of the Exodus, every year, we celebrate “Pe” – “Sach,” i.e the “talking mouth,” in telling the wonders of Hashem during the Exodus. Indeed, tractate Psachim, the tractate that deals with the laws of Pesach, begins with a discourse about the power of words, and how one should be careful to use only speech that is pure and good.
The Torah (Dvarim 10, 16) says: “and you shall circumcise your hearts, and stiffen your necks never more.” This means that, along with the physical and verbal “circumcision” we just mentioned, there must also be a “circumcision of the heart.” How can we truly purify ourselves of slander, impure speech, etc., if our hearts harbor thoughts and feelings of anger, hatred, lust, etc.?
Yet deeper is a united vision coming from the inspiration of Hebron, the City of Unity, the place of Avraham’s covenant with Hashem. Through this inspiration we realize the common meaning of covenant both in circumcision and Korban Pesach. While circumcision highlights the covenant with Hashem inherent in the People Israel, the Korban Pesach highlights this covenant with Hashem in regard to the Holy Presence in the Temple – the “soul” of our Holy Land. The fact that we are missing the Korban Pesach today shows us that we must take this matter to our hearts, speech, and actions. The Holy Presence is the Origin and Light of our souls, and therefore Its redemption, through our efforts to glorify It in our Holy Land and Temple, is ultimately also the redemption of our People’s thoughts, speech, and actions, let this be, Amen.
Real Stories from the Holy Land #309
“Wanted: Families or singles to resettle ancient city of Hebron. For details contact Rabbi M. Levinger.”
This unassuming newspaper advertisement captured the attention of many Israelis in 5728 (1968). Rabbi Moshe Levinger and a group of like-minded individuals determined that the time had come to return home to the newly liberated heartland of the Land of Israel. In Hebron, the Park Hotel’s Arab owners were delighted to accept the cash-filled envelope which Rabbi Levinger placed on the front desk. In exchange, they agreed to rent the hotel to an unlimited amount of people for an unspecified period of time. The morning of Passover eve saw the Levinger family along with families from Israel’s north, south and center packed their belongings for Hebron. They quickly cleaned and koshered the half of the hotel’s kitchen allotted to them and began to settle in. Eighty-eight people celebrated Passover Seder that night in the heart of Hebron. Two days later, Rabbi Levinger announced to the media that the group intended to remain in Hebron. Dignitaries, Knesset members and Israelis from near and far streamed to the Park Hotel to encourage the pioneers. Defense Minister Moshe Dayan was anxious to remove the pioneers from the hotel. He suggested that they move to the military compound overlooking Hebron. Six weeks later, the pioneers moved to the military compound. Rabbi Levinger insisted on accommodations for 120 people even though they numbered less than half at that time. Rabbi Levinger was accused of being an unrealistic dreamer. Within a few short weeks however, he was proven correct. The 120 places in the military compound could not accommodate the hundreds of people who wanted to be part of the renewed of Jewish life in Hebron, city of the Patriarchs.
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