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The ‘Perfect’ D’var Torah

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Several years ago, my wife and I were in Boro Park for a wedding. Early the next morning, we received news from Yerushalayim that we had a new grandson.

Right after the phone call, I went to Shomrei Shabbos on 13th Avenue for Shacharis and received an aliyah. After the Mi She’beirach was made for the mother and newborn, a stranger told me a beautiful d’var Torah on the subject of bris milah. I later relayed the d’var Torah to my son by phone. He enjoyed it very much and asked me to e-mail it to him.

Unfortunately unable to attend the bris, through the wonders of computer technology and Skype, we were able to be there – virtually speaking! The laptop was placed on a shtender in front of the speakers. My wife said that she felt as if she was in the men’s section.

The baby was named after my mechutan’s alter zaidie, who was chief rabbi in a large community and had written a seferD’var Yechezkel, which was filled with beautiful drashos (a copy of which my mechutan gave me). For his speech at the seudas mitzvah, my son delivered the d’var Torah that I had e-mailed to him.

We were sorry we couldn’t make it to the bris, but were very excited that we would be going to Yerushalayim for the pidyon ha’ben. Right before we left chutz la’aretz, I was browsing through the sefer written by my mechutan’s alter zaidie when, lo and behold to my great surprise, I found the same d’var Torah that the stranger had told me in Boro Park – the one recited by my son at the bris. It was the rach hanimol’s (baby’s) great-great-great zaidie’s d’var Torah! Even more incredible is that Hashem arranged for my grandson to hear the d’var Torah of the very same person for whom he is named.

Chazal said it best: “Torah mechazeres al achsanya shela” – Torah returns to its inn [to be hereditary in the family] (Bava Metzia 85).

The following is the d’var Torah:

The Gemara in Nedarim 32 says in the name of Rav Yehuda that when Hashem told Avraham Avinu to “Walk before Me and be tamim [perfect], Avraham worried that perhaps he was not complete in his worship of Hashem. When Hashem later told him, “I will set my bris [covenant] between Me and you,” Avraham was relieved. How did Hashem’s response allay Avraham’s worry?

Regarding bris milah, Tosafos (Shabbos 131) says that even if the proper time for observing the mitzvah (the eighth day) has passed, the mitzvah is not nullified and can still be performed on subsequent days.

The Gemara in Kiddushin 82 says that Avraham observed the entire Torah before it was given. Why then didn’t he perform the mitzvah of bris milah on himself, and only do it when Hashem commanded him to do so? According to the previously quoted Tosafos, there is no problem here. Since one can do bris milah anytime after the eighth day and not lose the mitzvah of having done so, Avraham waited for Hashem to command him in the mitzvah. This is because Chazal (Avodah Zarah 3) tells us that someone who is commanded to do a mitzvah and adheres to the command is greater than the person who does it voluntarily. Regarding all the other mitzvos, Avraham couldn’t wait for Hashem’s command because, unlike bris milah, the time of the mitzvah would have passed.

When Hashem told Avraham to walk before Him and be tamim, Avraham thought that the mitzvah was a negative one – to not be uncircumcised – and for every moment that he hadn’t circumcised himself, he had transgressed the mitzvah. But when Hashem told him that it is a positive mitzvah of performing a bris (“I will set my bris between Me and you”), Avraham was relieved since he realized that he had never transgressed. Why? Because even after the eighth day, he hadn’t lost out in gaining the mitzvah, for it could have still been performed anytime thereafter.

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