Friday, April 12, 2013

Parshas Tazria – The Power to Ignite and the Message of Bris Milah by Mordechai Plotsker

Tazria – The Power to Ignite and the Message of Bris Milah

by Mordechai Plotsker

עָרְלָתוֹ בְּשַׂר יִמּוֹל הַשְּׁמִינִי וּבַיּוֹם ... זָכָר וְיָלְדָה תַזְרִיעַ כִּי אִשָּׁה

If a woman conceives and gives birth to a male,… And on the eighth day, the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised. (Leviticus 12:2-3). [Conversely, if the male emits seed first, she (the woman) gives birth to a female (Niddah 31a & Berishis 46:15, Rashi)].

The Kedushas Levi questions the correlation between the birth and circumcision. Answers the Kedushas Levi, there are two energy sources that sustain the world.

1.      One form of Divine stimulation is known as the Ohr Hayashar - Hisohrirus M’limahla (stirring from above) - HSHMThe Ohr Hayashar is an independent source of energy that formed our universe and through which HSHM continues to sustain the world. This attribute is defined by rachum v’chanun - compassion and grace.

2.      A second attribute is known as the Ohr Hachozer - Hisohrirus Hatachton (stirring from below) - Klal Yisroel. The strength (or weakness) of this attribute is interdependent upon Klal Yisroel’s commitment to Torah, mitzvos and ma’asim tovim. Meaning, when Klal Yisroel steadfastly observes the Torah, a higher, more resilient form of the Ohr Hachozer, consisting of Divine mercy and grace, is produced.
The above pasuk can now be explained through a remez (allegory).

The word אִשָּׁה (woman) refers to the world but more specifically, Klal Yisroel. HSHM is the mashpia (influencer, affirmative) and Klal Yisroel is the אִשָּׁה (the receiver). The world is always in receipt of HSHMs bounty and Divine countenance. However, when Klal Yisroel, transforms itself from the level of an אִשָּׁה (Ohr Hayashar) to the influencing attribute of the Ohr Hachozer, then a new creation, a זָכָר is formed that is filled with affirmative potential to influence others in Torah and mitzvos. The זָכָר, in metaphysical terms, refers to our ability to influence others, whereas אִשָּׁה, or the nikaiva, refers to the ability of others to influence us. Through prayer and the performance of mitzvos and ma’asim tovim, the Ohr Hachozer is stimulated - as HSHM desires the prayers of his nation (Yevamot 64b).

This is the meaning of זָכָר וְיָלְדָה תַזְרִיעַ כִּי אִשָּׁה - When we sprout forth - תַזְרִיעַ כִּי - and change our role from an האִשָּׁ, by implementing Torah, mitzvos, and ma’asim tovim, we can inspire others to reach greater levels of Torah observance. זָכָר וְיָלְדָה – when Klal Yisroel alters its state from an אִשָּׁה (receiver) to a זָכָר (influencer, affirmative), a transformation occurs that allows Klal Yisroel to receive great bounties of rachamim, mercy from the Ohr Hachozer, the energy source most desired by HSHM.

Quoting his Rebbe, the heilige Reb Dov Ber, Maggid of Mezhibizh, the Kedushas Levi explains that although HSHM created angels to sing incessant praise, nevertheless, HSHM desires human prayer for we have free will. Furthermore, when Klal Yisroel steadfastly observes the Torah, we provide HSHM with sustenance (parnasah) enjoyed by HSHM. The Maggid learns this from the passuk: Mai’ais HSHM haysa Zos, hee nifla’os b’ainainu - This was from HSHM; it is wondrous in our eyes (Pslams 118:23). The word Zos is in feminine form, indicating that on a metaphorical level, Klal Yisroel is the mashpia  (ability to influence) and HSHM is the mekabel (ability to be influenced).

The Kedushas Levi now interpolates a second allegory to the above discussion concerning the month of geula (redemption). Rav Yehoshua opines that in the future we will be redeemed in the month of Nissan. However, Rav Eliezer opines that we will be redeemed and in the month of Tishrey (Rosh Hashanah 11a). Since Chazal conclude that both opinions are correct, what is the rationale and fundamental difference between the months of Nissan and Tishrey?

1.      The month of Nissan is characteristic of the Ohr Hayashar and occurs in the season of AVIV (aleph, bet), symbolic of Ahava (love), Bina (knowledge). (See Kedushas Levi on Shir Hashirim for a more elaborate explanation). Nissan is a time when we are allegorically compared to the Ohr Hayashar, to a male that emits seed first and later conceives a female. In Nissan we are not judged on our merits, for when one is in a weakened state, we lack the strength to inspire others in Torah and mitzvah observance. And yet, despite the fact that we had descended to the 49th level of impurity and defilement, HSHM still emancipated us from Egyptian servitude. Therefore, Rav Yehoshua believes that similar to the first geula which occurred in the month of Nissan, our future geula will occur in Nissan for this is a time when HSHM is filled with rachum v’chanun, Divine love, compassion and grace.

2.      The month of Tishrey, however, is characteristic of the Ohr Hachozer, and occurs during the season of judgment (Yom Hadin). During this time we have altered our state to a zachor (influencer, affirmative) by strengthening our fellow Jew in the performance of Torah, mitzvos and ma’asim tovim. This allows the Jewish nation to receive great bounties of Divine mercy from HSHM, similar to the time of Purim when we repented and reaffirmed our commitment to Torah and mitzvos. Therefore, Rav Eliezer believes that although our initial geula occurred in Nissan, a time of rachum v’chanun, our future geula will occur in the month of Tishrey. For only through the positive influence of Torah and mitzvah observance - stimulated from the Ohr Hachozer – can we trust in HSHM that we will be judged favorably and that we will be redeemed during the month of Tishrey.
וֹעָרְלָת בְּשַׂר יִמּוֹל הַשְּׁמִינִי וּבַיּוֹם - And on the eighth day, the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised. (Leviticus 12:2-3). What is the connection between this phrase and the beginning of the passuk,
זָכָר וְיָלְדָה תַזְרִיעַ כִּי אִשָּׁה?

We demonstrate our personal transformation to a זָכָר and validate our attachment to Torah and mitzvos at the bris milah when we say, “Kishaeim Shenichnas labris kain yikanais l”Torah Chuppah u’maasim tovim” - Just as we brought you to the bris, we shall bring you to Torah observance, chuppah and good deeds. Here we witness an infant that has already completed one mitzvah. We (the parents, siblings, future friends and Rabbeim) will provide him with the necessary resources (Torah education, strong family values, etc.) to complete the remaining 612 mitzvos - the gematria of bris. In so doing, we, the tzibur/members of Klal Yisroel fulfill our collective responsibility of na’ase adam – we will make man, to be realized when this infant becomes a positive influence - a זָכָר - and beacon of Torah light onto the entire world.   

Therefore, explains the Kedushas Levi, the first pasuk concerning childbirth and the second pasuk concerning circumcision are interconnected for they demonstrate our transformation from a האִשָּׁ to a זָכָר, an influencer of Torah values and mitzvos. Accordingly, since HSHM desires Klal Yisroel to have many merits (zechusim), man was created uncircumcised for only through mitzvos and ma’asim tovim can we stimulate the Ohr Hachozer, HSHM’s preferred mode of global interaction. May we be zocheh to have many opportunities to learn, teach, observe and act in Torah and mitzvosAd biyas goel tzedek. Amen. 

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