web analytics
May 5, 2015 / 16 Iyar, 5775
At a Glance
Judaism
Sponsored Post


Home » Judaism » Parsha »

Who Performed Avraham’s Bris?

Parsha-Perspectives-logo

In this week’s parshah Hashem commands Avraham Avinu to perform the mitzvah of bris milah. The pasuk tells us that Avraham was 99 when he performed the bris milah on himself. The Pirkei D’Rabbi Eliezer (29) and Tosafos, in Rosh Hashanah 11a, say that Avraham’s bris was performed on Yom Kippur. The Pirkei D’Rabbi Eliezer adds that Shem, Noach’s son, performed the bris on Avraham. There are several explanations as to why Avraham had Shem perform his milah.

Some opinions suggest that since the milah was to be performed on Yom Kippur, Avraham did not want to perform the milah himself since this would violate the laws of Yom Kippur. One may only perform a milah on Shabbos or Yom Tov if the bris is on the eighth day. Since Avraham’s milah was not on the eighth day after he was born, it was considered not in the proper time – and thus Avraham could not perform the milah. Since Shem, however, did not keep the Torah he could perform the milah. Therefore Avraham asked Shem to perform the milah.

But there is a medrash (Bereishis 49:2) that says that Avraham asked Hashem as to who would perform the milah on him. Hashem told Avraham that he should do it himself. Avraham immediately took a knife and was about to cut, but hesitated because he was worried about his age. Hashem sent His hand and held onto Avraham – and Avraham cut. The medrash’s source for this is the well-known pasuk from p’sukei d’zimra: “vecharos imo ha’bris – and he cut with him the bris.”

As according to Tosafos and the Pirkei D’Rabbi Eliezer the milah took place on Yom Kippur, we must then ask the following: since according to the medrash that says that Avraham performed the milah together with Hashem, how can this have been done on Yom Kippur – since Avraham kept the entire Torah even prior to matan Torah?

This question is based on the assumption that the milah of Avraham Avinu was considered “shelo bizmano – not in the correct time.” For if it was the correct time (the eighth day of a boy’s life) then one is permitted to perform a bris on Shabbos and Yom Tov. There are some Acharonim (the Yehudah Yaleh in Yoreh De’ah 254 and the Sdei Chemed, 7:2) who answer that, in fact, Avraham Avinu’s bris was considered to be done on time since he performed it on the day that he was commanded to perform it. Even though he was 99 years old, the bris was still considered to be on time and therefore permitted to be performed on Yom Kippur. Other Acharonim suggest that the reason Avraham’s bris was considered on time was because the commandment was for him to perform the bris on that very day, as the pasuk says: “b’etzem hayom hazeh, nimol Avraham v’Yishmael b’no – on that very day, Avraham and his son Yishmael were circumcised.” Since the bris was performed at the intended time, it was considered to have been done on time – and permitted to have been done on Yom Kippur.

Yet this is not the general understanding. Most consider the bris of Avraham Avinu to be shelo bizmano and therefore not permitted to be performed on Yom Kippur. It is quoted in the name of Rabbi Meir Soloveitchik, shlita, that it is for this reason that there is no mention that Avraham made a seudah by his or any of his household’s bris milah – with the exception of Yitzchak. This is because the Sha’arei Teshuvah (551:31) says that one only should make a seudah for a bris that is on time. We only find that Avraham made a seudah for Yitzchak’s bris because that was the only bris that was performed on time.

Another solution is that even though Avraham kept the entire Torah (as the Gemara says), certain discrepancies existed. Generally a bris milah that is not on time is not allowed to be performed on Shabbos or Yom Tov. However, since Avraham was not yet commanded to keep the Torah – and, for that matter, he was not commanded to keep Shabbos or Yom Tov – they were treated differently concerning this matter. Since they were not yet commanded to keep Shabbos or Yom Tov before matan Torah, a bris could be performed on Shabbos or Yom Tov even if it was not on time. Thus Avraham was allowed to perform his bris on Yom Kippur.

I would like to suggest another explanation that answers the question of how Avraham was able to perform the bris on Yom Kippur according to the medrash that says that Shem did not perform the bris. The medrash says that Hashem sent His hand and helped Avraham cut. The halacha is that when two people do a melachah together they are not liable on Shabbos or Yom Tov. Therefore, since Avraham performed the bris together with Hashem he did not violate the laws of Yom Kippur.

For questions or comments, e-mail RabbiRFuchs@gmail.com.

About the Author: For questions or comments, e-mail RabbiRFuchs@gmail.com.


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 “Who Performed Avraham’s Bris?”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Aftermath of Texas attack by terrorists in attack now claimed by the Islamic State.
ISIS Claims ‘Credit’ for Attack at Mohammed Cartoon Contest
Latest Judaism Stories
Safar-050115-Califlower

Cauliflower is one of my favorite ingredients to cook with – it blends so easily into whatever dish I am preparing.

Torat-Hakehillah-logo-NEW

It’s an interesting idea, that love is illustrated by understanding another’s needs.

Niehaus-050115

“Keeping” Shabbos means to guard it and make sure to keep every aspect and detail of it.

Winiarz-Shaya-logo

Pesach is a time when we can grow in this perspective. But merely spending a week working on something will not leave any lasting impression on us.

“There is a diamond necklace that I wear on special occasions,” Mrs. Miller told her husband. “It was recently appraised at $6,000. If need be, we can give that as collateral.”

Morah for a parent is connected to shemiras Shabbos because the Shechina shines on, and through, the Sabbath.

“You shall not hate your brother in your heart; you shall reprove your fellow and do not bear a sin because of him.” – Vayikra 19:17   When the Torah mentions the obligation to rebuke a fellow Jew, it ends with the words “and do not carry a sin because of him.” The Targum translates […]

The Bais Halevi answers that we must properly define what is considered to be “in the middle of a mitzvah.”

They had realized they would be far from civilization and kosher food and had packed plenty of fresh and canned food as well as making sure there was a microwave in their room which they knew how to kasher.

He was deeply saddened by the thought of her going to her final resting place alone and that it appeared as if she knew no one and had no family who cared about her.

Question: If Abraham was commanded to circumcise his descendants on the eighth day, why do Arabs – who claim to descend from Abraham through Yishmael – wait until their children are 13 to circumcise them? I am aware that this is a matter of little consequence to our people. Nevertheless, this inconsistency is one that piques my curiosity.

M. Goldman
(Via E-mail)

The Debt Lives On
‘The Orphans’ Mitzvah To Repay Their Father’s Debts’
(Ketubot 91b)

Rabbi Fohrman asks what’s the connection between animal sacrifices and leaving crops for the poor?

Putting parents before oneself is a step toward putting the more abstract concept of God before self

In her diary, Anne Frank wrote words that provided hope for a humanity faced with suffering.

More Articles from Rabbi Raphael Fuchs
Taste-of-Lomdus-logo

The Bais Halevi answers that we must properly define what is considered to be “in the middle of a mitzvah.”

Taste-of-Lomdus-logo

In this case one could reason that by applying halach achar harov we could permit the forbidden bird as well.

Why would it not be sufficient to simply state lehoros from which we derive that in such a state one may not issue any psak?

The Netziv answered that there is a difference between a piece of bread that was cut already in front of you, and one that was cut from beforehand.

Why is it necessary to invite people to eat from the korban Pesach?

The Ran asks why the Gemara concludes that since we are unsure which two of the four we must recline for, that we must recline for all four.

The Chasam Sofer answers that one of only prohibited from wearing a garment that contains shatnez if he does so while wearing the garment for pleasure purposes.

The Aruch Laner asks: How can Rashi say that the third Beis Hamikdash will descend as fire from heaven when every Jew prays several times a day for the rebuilding of the Beis Hamikdash?

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/parsha/who-performed-avrahams-bris/2012/10/24/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: