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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

#2 Tazria, Vayikra 12:3. Bris Mila on the Eigth Day

The Taz (YD 265 SK 13) brings a Medrash that says the reason the Bris Mila is on the eighth day, and the reason one cannot bring an animal sacrifice until eight days after it is born, is that Hashem says "Do not come before me until you have appeared before/seen My Matron."  The "matron" here refers to Shabbos.  The Torah requires the eight day wait to ensure that at least one Shabbos will have passed before the special day.  At my oldest son's bris, Reb Moshe (as partially cited in Kol Rom III p. 395) connected this to the requirement that Aharon and his sons, at their original investiture in the Mishkan,  had seven days of Miluim and could only do the avoda on the eighth day.  Similarly, the Kohen Gadol is relocated from his home to a chamber on the Har Habayis for seven days before Yom Kippur.

What does this Medrash teach us?

1.  Only Hashem can allow us to serve Him, and He does so by stating the manner and granting us the means of doing so. Reb Moshe said that we learn two things: that we cannot invent novel means of serving Hashem.  Hashem can only be served in a manner that He expressly sanctions.  Anything else is "Sh'chutei Chutz," as if we brought a sacrifice outside the Beis Hamikdash, which is a cardinal sin.  The second thing is that we can only approach Hashem after we have been imbued with a special kedusha, and it is only only after going through  Shabbos that is one changed by a kedusha that makes avodas Hashem possible.

2.  Bris Mila is a form of Korban.  That Bris Mila shares certain characteristics of a sacrifice.  Indeed, the Abarbanel says that the bris is a type of Korban.  The reason it is done lechatchila on the eighth day and not later is because every korban needs to be without blemish, physically perfect.  But this korban has less to do with the physical as it does with the spiritual.  Thus, mila should be done on a neshama that is spiritually perfect.  This is best done as soon as possible after birth, before the child has a chance to do what people are wont to do.  Seize the moment when the neshama is still perfect.

3(a)1.  Kedusha that leaves a residual effect elevates us; Kedusha that does not leave a residual effect degrades us.  What does Tumah come from?  Or rather, what brings about Tumah?  The Zohar (see Shem MiShmuel Tazria, years '74-5) says that all Tumah comes from the departure of Kedusha.  The way the Baal Ha'akeida (brought in Malbim "Torah Ohr" beginning of Chukas) puts it is so:

אחר שכל דבד אשר יופסד הוא נתהפך אל הדבר היותר רע, ויותר נמאס, מן השורש הזה נמשכו דיני טומאה, כי המיתה הוא הפסד בעה״ח או הצומח, וכשימות האילן שאין בו רק נפש צומחת, נתהוד, ממנו רקב ועפר, ואין בו שום טומאה, אבל כשיופםד הבע״ח שיש בו נפש חיונית יקרא נבלה, ויש בה טומאת מגע ומשא, אולם
כשיופסר האדם השומר תודה ומצות שיש בו נפש אלקית, נבלתו פחותהומאוסה יותר מפגרי בע״ח, ויש בו טומאת אוהל 
וטומאת שבעה

Life is kedusha.  When life leaves any living being, the remains can be tamei.  When the spirit of Hashem leaves a human being, his body causes the greatest tumah.  When a woman ends the time she might conceive a child, she becomes a Niddah.  When a woman gives birth, and the extra neshama of the child leaves her, and she is t'mei'ah.  A Metzora is tamei, because he has lost his connection to Klal Yisrael.

So, why  it that a bris milah can only take place after experiencing the kedusha of Shabbos?  On the contrary!  True, the experience of Shabbos invests us with kedusha, but shouldn't the departure of Shabbos result in Tumah?  We have a neshama ye'seira on Shabbos.   When it leaves us, shouldn't it bring Tumah in its wake? (also discussed in the Shem MiShmuel.)  Life =Kedusha; Life ends, Tuma enters. Shabbos=Kedusha; Shabbos ends...... what should happen?

The answer is that when life departs, it leaves nothing behind.  If anything, the object that has lost its life is worse than if it had never lived.  That is not the case with kedusha.  When kedusha leaves, some effect remains.

3(a)2.  The greater the Tzadik, the greater the residual effect of his Kedusha.  There has been a recurring assertion that the bodies of tzadikim gemurim do not become tamei.  See, for example, Rabbeinu Chaim Kohen brought in Tosfos Kesuvos 103b DH Oso, and the Medrash brought in Tosfos Bava Metzia 114b, middle of the page, though Tosfos disagrees, and the Ramban in Chukas about Missas Neshika;  The issue was exhaustively covered and conclusively laid to rest by Rabbi Marcus Spielman in his Tziyun L'Nefesh Tzvi, Brooklyn, 1976, in which he brings hundreds of mekoros on the topic, and more importantly the sefer has haskamos from Reb Moshe, Reb Yaakov, Rav Rudderman, Rav Hutmer, and Reb Shlomo Zalman Auerbach in which they all unequivocally state that le'halacha, we are not someich at all on the shittas hamatirim.  (See a very nice review of the sources here.)  But the point is that there seems to be some concept that there is less tuma on the bodies of Tzadikim.  Why would this be so?  On the contrary.  According to the Akeida and the Zohar, there should be more!  The answer is that Tzadikim convert their bodies into holy things, and even after their death, their bodies retain kedusha.  The Malbim cited above says something very similar, as does the Shmaitsa in the Hakdama.

3(b).  Each and every Shabbos is an opportunity to incorporate and concretize the spiritual growth of the previous week.  When I was in Yeshiva, my Mashgiach and Rebbi, Reb Dovid Kronglas, knew that I hadn't gone to the Mikva before Rosh Hashanna and he knew why:  I am of Lithuanian derivation, and going to the Mikva was not something men did.  So he came over to me and said, "................., it is kedai to go to the mikva, it is brought in Shulchan Aruch, and every baal teshuva is required to go to the mikva, just as a geir must go to the mikva."  I'm not sure it was he who added that "If tvila can make a goy into a Jew, imagine what it can do for a Jew!"  I, being who I am, immediately decided that the example of a ger is irrelevant, because while going once can have an enormous effect, there is no difference between going once and going a million times.  It's like annealing clay: once it's been in the kiln, it's not going to get any harder if you put it into the kiln another time.  Or it's like hechsher for tuma.  Once it was touched by water, it's muchshar forever.

Of course, I was wrong, and it's certainly a minhag tov to go to the mikva, at least once every year or two.  But I'm not sure about the effect of Shabbos.  We see from the Medrash that experiencing Shabbos is an enormously powerful spiritual event that forever changes whatever it touches.  It makes a person fit to serve Hashem.  It even makes a non-sentient animal fit to be offered as a sacrifice.  But we don't see from the Medrash that the second Shabbos has any effect at all.

But according to what Reb Moshe said at the bris, it changes the whole meaning of the Medrash.  If the idea of Pnei Matronisa applies to the Milu'im, then it must be that Shabbos enables growth in Kedusha not only for a newborn, but even for old wrung out shmattehs.  Each and every Shabbos is an opportunity to incorporate and concretize the spiritual growth you worked for during that week.

4.  You can make a Shalom Zachar on Yomtov instead of Shabbos. The Chasam Sofer (Toras Moshe Parshas Emor DH Mimacharas, the third one with that DH) says that if there's a Yomtov after the baby is born that comes before Shabbos, then the Yomtov does the same thing that Shabbos normally does.  Theoretically, then, (according to the Taz in 265 brought in the beginning of this piece,) you ought to have the Shalom Zachar on the Yomtov and not wait till Shabbos.  But it's best not to mix people up, unless you live in a community of Talmidei Chachamim who would enjoy the azus panim more than worry about the minhag.

5.  It's a good thing Shalom Zachars are not by invitation only.  This last piece, which speaks of the Shalom Zachar, is interesting, but best left in Yiddish, because it might lead to some very lonely Friday nights.

דער חידושי הרי״ם איז אמאל אריינגעקומען אויף שלום זכר. 
האט ער זיך ארומגעקוקט און געזאגט מיט גרויס התלהבות:
דאס ענין פון שלום זכר איז דאך מקבל צו
זיין פני מטרוניתא פארן ברית, באדארף
מען זען, אז עם זאל ניט זיין ווער פון די 
 ד׳ כתות וועלכע זיינען ניט מקבל פני שכינה.


Eli said...

A bit off topic, but this Medrash had me long wondering - why the 8th day. Had Bris been the 7th day, Shabbos would also be always included. If you think that the answer is we need a full 24h Shabbos, think again. What if a baby is born Shabbos afternoon and the Bris is in the morning?

b said...

Hi, Eli. Remarkably enough, I have an on target response to your question. Excuse me while I say a שהחיינו, or more correctly הטוב והמטיב.

Ok, I'm back. The Chasam Sofer in his Teshuvos OC 102, dealing with the opinion that kiddush levana should be at least seven days after the molad, brings in our Medrash. He addresses your point, and says that evidently, the bris, or the idea of Pnei Matronisa, requires two things: Experiencing the beginning of a Shabbos, and experiencing the end of a Shabbos: כניסת מטרוניתא ויציאת מטרוניתא.

From the formal logic perspective, his answer is fine. From the "why on earth would that make sense" perspective, nu nu.

b said...

I was thinking about what I said, that it's hard to see a svara in what the Chasam Sofer said, and here's what occurred to me.

The din of זכרהו בכניסתו וביציאתו, to make some sort of kiddush when Shabbos begins and when it ends, pashtus, is a simple din of kavod- like saluting an honored guest when he arrives and when he leaves. But it is possible that there is one particular kedusha that happens at the onset and another at the conclusion of Shabbos. It's not just Hello and Goodbye.

Even the shittos that hold not like the Rambam, who hold that havdala is entirely miderabanan, don't necessarily disagree with the concept, they just hold that there's no din kiddush on yetzias Shabbos.

great unknown said...

Kenisas HaShabbos signals the categorical distinction of the Jew from the mundane non-Jewish residents of creation. Yetzias HaShabbos signals a lower level of kedusha which involves Jews being involved in the everyday "la'sheves" of the world - while nevertheless being quantitatively superior to the non-Jew in kedusha - ner la'amim if you will.

Both are necessary elements of the Jewish interaction with and purpose in creation.

I am basing this on a brilliant drosho I heard last Succos in KJBS/Chicago, which covered many more details of this dual havdalah.

b said...

I copied all the comments and made them into a separate post. It's too good to be just be attached to this one.
Yasher kochachem!

Eli said...

In the S"Z of my second, I (ignorant of the C"S) suggested that the requirement is to experience Shabbos-night davka. This fits nicely with the fact we observe SZ Friday night, a time when people are usually not going out (and that specific night was bitterly cold, btw).

I'm sure GU can explain much better than myself why the מטרוניתא aspect of Shabbos is related to the night part and not the day. One pointer is Ramban Shmos 20:7 which I quote verbatim for lack of unerstanding: "ובמדרשו של רבי נחוניא בן הקנה (ספר הבהיר אות קפב): הזכירו עוד סוד גדול בזכור ושמור, ועל הכלל תהיה הזכירה ביום והשמירה בלילה, וזהו מאמר החכמים (ב"ק לב ב): שאומרים בערב שבת באי כלה באי כלה, באו ונצא לקראת שבת מלכה כלה, ויקראו לברכת היום קדושא רבא (פסחים קו א): שהוא הקדוש הגדול, ותבין זה. "

So whatever that means, the feminine aspect of שבת which is called מלכה, i.e. מטרוניתא, relates to the night, not the day.

To complete the Drush I said that we see the feminine aspect of שבת is related to שמור and not זכור, i.e. the passive acceptance of Kedusha, as opposed to our active efforts represented by the Zachor part. As we prepare for giving our newborn the message of R. Akiva (Tanchuma Tazria), that his deeds could achieve greater results than those of Hashem, so to speak, we first need to go through the Shamor part, to recall it's all based on the Kedusha we get from above, passively.

(sorry for doing this בדרך שאלה ותשובה; I had no time yesterday to write the whole thing; also, I was curious to hear your take on it)