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by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

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Ch. 12, v. 3: "U'va'yom hashmini yimol bsar orloso" The Medrash Rabboh says that the juxtaposition of the rules of family purity to the laws of circumcision teaches us that he who fulfills the laws of family purity will merit to PERSONALLY circumcise his son on the eighth day after birth. What is the intention of the words that indicate that the father will PERSONALLY do the circumcision? The Avnei Shoham answers with another M.R. which says that if parents do not abide by the laws of family purity, their sons will be born with tzoraas. The gemara Shabbos 132b-133a says that if the new-born son has tzoraas on the location that has to be cut to fulfill bris miloh, it should be done in spite of the restriction to not excise tzoraas, because of the rule "mitzvas assei docheh mitzvas lo saa'se." The gemara goes on to say that if another person is available to do the bris, he has priority over the father who wants to remove the tzoraas which cleanses his son from tzoraas impurity. The other person only has intention to do the bris and regarding removal of tzoraas is an "eino miska'vein."

This is the intention of our M.R. If the parents keep the laws of family purity, their child will be born without tzoraas, and there will be no tzoraas at the site of the miloh. Then it will not be necessary to use an outsider as a mohel, but rather the father can PERSONALLY do the circumcision. This is alluded to in the verse in Koheles 11:2, "Tein cheilek l'shivoh v'gam l'shmonoh." The M.R. says this means that if you keep the laws of the seven days (family purity), then you will fulfill the mitzvoh of the eighth day (bris miloh.)

Mahara"m Eisenstadt explains the verse in Koheles with the gemara Shvuos 18b, where Rabbi Chiya bar Abbo says that he who separates physically from his wife close to the onset of her expected monthly menses will merit to have male children, as the verse juxtaposes, "L'havdil bein hatomei u'vein hatohor (11:47)" to "Ishoh ki sazria v'yoldoh zochor." This is alluded to in the verse in Koheles. If you give a portion (an added separation before the onset of the menses) to the seven days of nidoh impurity, then you will merit to have a son whom you will circumcise on the eighth day. (Peninim Y'korim)

Ch. 12, v. 3: "U'va'yom hashmini yimol" -

1) The Zohar on Vayikroh page 44 and the Yalkut Shimoni on parshas Emor remez #643 say that by waiting eight days, the infant will have lived through a Shabbos. He requires this sanctity before being circumcised.

2) The Yalkut Shimoni (Breishis remez #82) says that Hashem had mercy upon the infant and said to wait until he has some strength to endure the circumcision procedure.

3) The gemara Nidoh 31b says that since the birth puts the mother into a status of not being permitted to have marital relations, the Torah said that the circumcision should wait until the eighth day, by which time the mother can purify herself and be allowed to have marital relations. Then at the time of the circumcision even the parents can also be totally happy, along with everyone else.

4) The Sforno says that the reason for the delay in circumcising until the eighth day is because the newborn boy still has a level of defilement until then because until the eighth day he is still being sustained from the residual menstrual blood he had imbibed before birth.

Someone asked the GR"A, "If a law is clearly based on a specific reason and that reason clearly does not apply any more, does the ruling still stand?" The GR"A said the fact that we still circumcise on the eighth day proves that the ruling still stands. His student explained it with the above-mentioned gemara. Since today we have an extended period of prohibition of marital relations that goes beyond the eighth day after a birth, we should have the circumcision pushed off accordingly. Yet we do not. This proves that even if the reason does not apply, the ruling does not change. According to reasons #1, #2, and #4 mentioned above, there are other reasons for circumcision on the eighth day and it has nothing to do with the mother purifying herself by the eighth day.

The concept mentioned above in the name of the Zohar and the Yalkut Shimoni does not only apply to people. The Yalkut in parshas Emor remez #643 says that the reason for an animal not being accepted as a sacrifice before eight days (Vayikroh 22:27) is the same as for circumcision not being allowed before eight days, so that they live through a Shabbos.

This goes beyond animals as well. There is a ruling that if one wants to partake of bread and has two breads available to him, one a complete loaf and one an incomplete loaf, either of which he is ready to eat, he should make the blessing "Hamotzi" over the complete loaf. The Machazor Vitri (a Rishon) says that if the complete bread was just recently baked and was not existent as a loaf of bread before Shabbos, and the incomplete bread was baked before Shabbos, the blessing should be made over the incomplete loaf since it has existed during a Shabbos. Such is the power of Shabbos that it imbues sanctity even into bread. No doubt this applies to inanimate objects as well.

We have given a few reasons for circumcision not taking place before eight days. Why shouldn't it take place later, when the baby is stronger? The Rambam in Moreh N'vuchim 3:49 answers that one's love for his child increases as the child grows. The love for a newborn is not the same as for a one year old, nor is that the same as the love for a six year old. Had the Torah given the mitzvoh of circumcision when the child would be two or three years old, there is a fear that the father with his ever-growing love for his son, would refuse to pain his son with circumcision, and the mitzvoh would simply not be done.

Perhaps another reason for the eighth day cut-off date is because Hashem knows that a healthy baby can withstand the surgical procedure of circumcision, but at the same time wants some level of sacrifice, "mesiras nefesh," on the part of the parents. If circumcision would take place when the child is a few years old, he would be quite strong at that time and the circumcision would be lacking this vital component. Indeed, the gemara Gitin 57b says regarding the verse, "Ki O'lecho horagnu kol ha'yom, - We have risked death for you all day" (T'hilim 44:23), that this refers to circumcision of a child at the tender age of eight days.

Ch. 13, v. 2: "Odom" - There are four words in Loshon Hakodesh that mean MAN. They are Odom, Enosh, Ish, and Gever. The highest level of man is called ODOM. Indeed, it is the only one of these four words that has no plural form, indicating the uniqueness and singularity of man. If so, why is the word ODOM used here where the verse discusses the plague of "tzoraas" appearing on the skin of a man?

1) The Apirion (Rabbi Shlomo Gantzfried) answers that it is specifically because only bnei Yisroel are called ODOM (gemara Y'vomos 61a), a unified person, a title which has no plural form, that a "nega" effects him. This affliction comes for shortcomings listed in the gemara Arochin 16a, which are reasons for divisiveness, a contradiction to ODOM, one unified body. This is an insight into why "nega" afflictions do not halachically affect non-Jews, as per the mishneh N'go'im 11:1, since they are constantly in a state of divisiveness, and as such the term ODOM cannot apply to them.

2) The Ohr Hachaim Hakodosh answers that it is only in an elevated person, an ODOM, that the "tzoraas" is limited to the outside surface, "ki y'h'yeh b'ORE b'soro," and not "b'socho," totally entrenched within him.

3) Perhaps it is only an ODOM, a great person, who merits to be given a heavenly sign that something is amiss with his spiritual level. We see in later generations that had a spiritual decline that the "nega tzoraas" has ceased to appear.

4) It takes a great person, an ODOM, to admit his shortcomings and appear in front of the Kohein to be examined for this physical disorder which is an indication of a spiritual disorder. One does not lose the appellation ODOM by sinning. No one is perfect. Indeed, we find in Koheles 7:20, "Ki ODOM ein tzadik bo'o'retz asher yaa'seh tov v'lo yecheto." Even if one sins he retains the title ODOM. By not seeking to correct his shortcomings one loses this title. (Rabbi Nisim Alpert zt"l)

Ch. 13, v. 45: "V'to'mei to'mei yikra" - Targum Onkeles, Targum Yonoson ben Uziel, and the Ibn Ezra say that the expression "to'mei to'mei" refers back to "V'hatzoru'a" at the beginning of this verse and is a direct quote of the two words that the person afflicted with the "tzoraas" says. However the Rambam in hilchos tumas tzoraas 10:6 says that the first word "to'mei" refers to the person afflicted with the "tzoraas," and he, the "tomei," shall say the one word "tomei."


Ch. 14, v. 17: "Al dam ho'oshom" - When the Torah repeats the procedure by the sacrifice of the poor man we find "al M'KOME dam ho'oshom" in verse 28. Why does the Torah add the word M'KOME? The responsa Binyan Shlomo by Rabbi Shlomo haKohein of Vilna in the name of his teacher Rabbi Yaakov Barit answers that the gemara Z'vochim 44a says that one may bring his "oshom" sacrifice one day and its accompanying oil offering as late as ten days later. However, it is preferable to bring it the same day.

Since our verse discusses the sacrifice of a wealthy man, there is no doubt that he will bring the accompanying oil on the same day, as this is preferable. When some of it is placed on the prescribed parts of his body after blood of the "oshom" sacrifice was already placed there, it will be placed "al dam ho'oshom," onto the blood which was just recently placed there. Verse 28 discusses the sacrifice of the poor "metzoroh." He barely scraped together enough money to bring the "oshom" sacrifice. He will have to work or collect funds for the accompanying oil and when that is achieved he will return a few days later to complete the ritual of the oil. By that time the blood of the "oshom" sacrifice will already be wiped off his body and the oil will be placed "al M'KOME dam ho'oshom," - on the PLACE where the blood of the "oshom" was.

Ch. 14, v. 21: "U'VO asher lo haba'yis" - "U'VO" means "And he shall come." In last week's parsha dealing with the affliction of the body, the Torah says "V'HUVO" (13:2), meaning "And he shall be brought."

The Sheima Shlomo, the Holy Rabbi Shlomo haLevi of Karlin explains this difference with the words of the M.R. 17:4. Hashem first sends afflictions to one's house, "ni'gei batim." If the owner "gets the message" and repents there is no need for further Celestial action. If this doesn't strike a chord, then Hashem sends afflictions to one's garments, with which one clothes his body, striking closer. Again, if there is a positive response things will go no further. If both of these messages don't help, then Hashem attacks the person with afflictions on his body proper.

Our verse discusses "nigei batim," afflictions which come upon one's home. If the person is motivated, he will willingly COME, "U'VO." He gets the message with the first knock on his door. The verse in 13:2 discusses the person who has not reacted and has already had "tzoraas" visit his home and his apparel. Now he has the "tzoraas" appear on his body. He is unmoved or it would never have come to this point. He does not willingly go to the Kohein. He must be BROUGHT, "V'HUVO."

Ch. 14, v. 35: "U'voh asher lo habayis V'HIGID laKohein" Compare to 13:3 where the one who is physically afflicted with tzoraas also goes to the Kohein, but the word "v'higid" is not mentioned.

The Holy Chozeh of Lublin had a chosid who was extremely poor. Whenever he went to his Rebbe, his wife reminded him to advise the Rebbe that he was very poor, and possibly the Rebbe would give him a blessing for a decent livelihood. However, when in the presence of the Holy Chozeh, the chosid totally forgot about his physical depravations and only discussed his spiritual pursuits. This happened time and again.

Once before he departed to the Chozeh, his wife decided to come along, as she would not forget to plea to the Rebbe for their physical needs. When she related their situation to the Rebbe, he responded that regarding one's physical flaws (ni'gei haguf), it is not necessary to relate the details to the Kohein, as it does not say "v'higid" by the tzoraas of the body. However, regarding the afflictions of the home (problems with livelihood), it is necessary to relate this to the Kohein, as it says "v'higid" by "ni'gei batim." (Gan Yoseif by the baal Pardes Yoseif)



See also Oroh V'Simchoh - Meshech Chochmoh on the Weekly Parsha, Chasidic Insights and Chamisha Mi Yodei'a

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