Lech Lecha

November 10, 2016

In this week’s Sedra we read how Hashem gave us the commandment of bris milah and how Avraham and Yishmael were both circumcised.

David HaMelech writes in Tehillim chapter 119 ” I rejoice over your words like someone who finds an abundance of spoils.”

The Gemara in tractate Shabbat page 130 explains that this verse refers to the mitzvah of milah, that it is done b’simcha.

Why are we so happy that we refer to it as ‘shalal’; as spoils of war? Why do we not compare our excitement to that of finding an expensive object? Why specifically shalal?

The Meshech Chochma offers a beautiful idea.

The Gemara in Sota (21a) says that when someone performs a mitzvah they are protected from harm but only while they are involved in it. Once they have finished and are no longer involved, it no longer protects. However, Torah on the other hand works differently. All the time that a person is living a life of and learning Torah, they are protected. Although you may not be learning at this precise moment you are still being guarded by Torah. The Torah was created as a tavlin to the yetzer hara; it is the medicine that diminishes his power that permits us to sin.

When a person walks down the street and finds an object of value, they are no doubt excited because it’s something new for them. But imagine walking down the street and finding your enemies weapon lying there. There will undoubtfully be an added element of excitement! Why? Because your taking away your enemy’s lifeline.

Says Rav Meir Simcha, this is what David HaMelech meant when he said ‘ I rejoice over Your words (of Torah) like someone who finds an abundance of weapons’. Now we understand why we refer to it as a shalal because through our Torah we are stripping the enemy of his weapon.

The same is true of brit milah. Why do we refer to it as a shalal?

The Rambam in Moreh Nevuchim says that the reason for milah is to minimize mans desires. By cutting away some orlah we are taking away from mans desires and therefore we refer to milah as a shalal because there is a different element of simcha there too when you cut away some orlah.

Life is full of trials and tribulations and many of them are physical problems and earthly desires. But Hashem through His kindness already paved a way for us to overcome them. By strengthening our study of Torah and showing Him we appreciate all He has done for us we will be protected from harm.

Shabbat shalom


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