web analytics
August 28, 2014 / 2 Elul, 5774
At a Glance
Judaism
Sponsored Post
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat (L) visits the JewishPress.com booth at The Event. And the Winners of the JewishPress.com Raffle Are…

Congratulations to all the winners of the JewishPress.com raffle at The Event



Home » Judaism

Signs Of The Covenant

Circumcision

Circumcision
Photo Credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90

This week’s portion begins by discussing a mother’s status after childbirth. The Torah tells us she becomes temeiah (commonly translated as spiritually impure) “as at the time of her menstruation (niddah).” In the very next sentence, the Torah says that if the child born is a male, circumcision is to take place on the eighth day.

This is not the only time the laws of niddah intersect with circumcision. Consider the first time circumcision is mentioned in the Torah. There, God commands Abraham to circumcise all males of his household (Genesis 17:9-14). Precisely at that time, God also reveals that a child will be born to Sarah, Abraham’s wife (Genesis 17:19). When Sarah hears the news, she laughs. The Torah explains her laughter by pointing out that Sarah had aged and was no longer menstruating. In the words of the Torah, “Sarah was old, well on in years, the manner of women had ceased to be with Sarah” (Genesis 18:11). Here again, there is a confluence between circumcision and niddah.

Circumcision is also prominent in the Moses narrative. While on his way to Pharaoh to demand that the Jews be freed, Moshe finds himself in a terrible predicament: one of his sons is close to death. Tzipporah, Moses’s wife, steps in and saves the child by circumcising him. She then declares, “a bridegroom’s bloodshed was because of circumcision” (Exodus 4:26). Note how circumcision is here linked to the blood of bridegroom. By definition, blood, for a groom, hints to the menstrual blood of the bride as well.

Additionally, the sentence from which it is deduced that the blood of circumcision was placed on the door posts of Jewish homes for the Exodus from Egypt deals with blood of birth (dam leidah) which as noted is treated as dam niddah – the blood of menstruation. (See Rashi on Exodus 12:6 and Ezekiel 16:6)

Many wonder what is the counterpoint for circumcision relative to women. These texts seem to teach that the laws of niddah, the laws of family purity, comprise that counterpoint. Interestingly, milah and niddah are not only mentioned together but they have similar meanings. The Hebrew for circumcision is milah, which according to Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch comes from the word mul, meaning “opposite.” Niddah has a comparable meaning – “separate.”

The repetitive linkage of the male circumcision and the female status of niddah gives us a clear message. While it is too often the case that sexuality is exploited and perverted worldwide, the Torah stands apart, insisting on an opposite approach – one of holiness. The words mul and niddah charge male and female alike to sanctify life even in the most powerful and intimate realms.

About the Author: Rabbi Avi Weiss is founder and president of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah and senior rabbi of the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Signs Of The Covenant”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Chief Hezbollah terrorist Hassan Nasrallah.
Israeli Arabs Arrested for Lebanon Ties
Latest Judaism Stories
Rabbi Sacks

Judaism is a religion of love but also a religion of justice, for without justice, love corrupts.

Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis

The time immediately preceding Mashiach’s arrival is likened to the birth pangs of a woman in labor.

Parsha-Perspectives-logo

Eisenhower understood that motivated men will fight much harder and longer than unmotivated men.

Who does not want to get close to Hashem? Yet, how do we do that?

Hashem recalls everything – nothing is hidden from His eyes.

According to Rabbi Yishmael one was not permitted to eat such an animal prior to entering Eretz Yisrael, while according to Rabbi Akiva one was permitted to eat animals if he would perform nechirah.

Discretion
‘Vendors Of Fruits And Clothing…May Sell In Private’
(Mo’ed Katan 13b)

Question: The Gemara in Berachot states that the sages authored our prayers. Does that mean we didn’t pray beforehand?

Menachem
Via Email

If a man sins and follows his inclinations, he will find comfort in this world – but when he dies, he will go to a place that is all thorns.

Nothing is more effective to diminish envy than gratitude.

The first prayer of Moshe was Vayechal, where Moshe’s petition was that no matter how bad bnei Yisrael were, the Egyptians were worse.

“We’re leining now, and shouldn’t be talking,” Mr. Silver gently quieted his son. “At the Shabbos table we can discuss it at length.”

If we regard pain and suffering as mere coincidence, we will feel no motivation to examine our lives

Culture is not nature. There are causes in nature, but only in culture are there meanings.

More Articles from Rabbi Avi Weiss
Rabbi Avi Weiss

Rabbinic law is pivotal but it’s important to understand which laws are rabbinic and which biblical.

Rabbi Avi Weiss

Israel is the only place where we have the potential to fulfill our mandate as the chosen people.

Rav Kook of blessed memory, who said that no matter where a Jew is born, he is born in Israel.

One must act as if everything depends on us and pray as if everything depends on God.

When taking any major step in life it is a good idea to carefully re-evaluate one’s past.

Important message for Jews in the Diaspora: In times of need run to Israel rather than from Israel.

With a loud and strong voice we must say “no” to individuals who take the law into their own hands.

An opinion recorded in the Talmud states that prayers correspond to the daily sacrifices offered in the Temple that are mentioned in this week’s portion (Berachot 26b, Numbers 28:4). It’s been argued that this opinion may be the conceptual base for our standardized prayer. Since sacrifices had detailed structure, our prayers also have a set text. […]

    Latest Poll

    Do you think the FAA ban on US flights to Israel is political?






    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/parsha/signs-of-the-covenant/2014/03/27/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: