Part 12 - A Once in a Creation Opportunity
Every individual should assume that the universe’s fate depends on his behavior. The mitzvot he performs ensures the world’s continued existence.
Talmud, Sanhedrin 37a
We have an opportunity to perform a tsuva more powerful than any tsuva accomplished since we were slaves in Egypt. There are 50 levels of spirituality. 1 is the highest and 50 is the lowest. 50 is spiritual extinction. In Egypt, we were idolaters. We were obsessed with being just like the Egyptians. We weren’t forcibly enslaved by pharaoh, the Midrash states very plainly that when the pharaoh wanted to build the pyramids, he asked for volunteers. The Jewish people, who desired to be accepted in their host country so much – sound familiar – volunteered in droves for the project. In the end, the Egyptians saw us working so diligently on their national monument that they just stopped working. Then, our volunteer work was no longer voluntary. We put the noose around our necks. We enslaved ourselves, much like we do today. When we were slaves in Egypt, we were on the 49th level of spirituality. As horrible as those times were, both spiritually and physically, there was something wonderful going for us. The tsuva required for us to return to Hashem would have to be so intense and so powerful, we would have to blast the world with the light created by it. The tsuva that Hashem brought out from us was amazing. Hashem brought us from the edge of extinction, to a level of national prophecy at Mount Sinai unparalleled in all of human history.
We have a similar opportunity today. The tsuva we have the opportunity to perform is immense. The force of this tsuva has the potential to bring so much light into this world that we will blind the angels. We are living in the end of days. Moshiach is just around the corner. What could be a more powerful argument for his revelation to the Jewish People and to the world that on the strength of this tsuva? The Zohar states that Moshiach will come in the merit of those who are Shmirat HaBrit. It’s all in our hands. Those that are farthest from where we need to be have it within them to approach this place with the greatest strength and the most force. Those that are closer will have to struggle even more to reach the next step. The amount of light we have it in us to bring to the world can wipe away all the decrees that have been made against us. It has the strength to send us home. It will bring us security in our Holy Land, as it is said in the Book of Devarim:
“and you will return to Hashem, your G-d, and heed His voice according to everything that I command you today; you and your children, with all your heart and all your soul. Then Hashem will bring back your captivity and have mercy upon you, and He will again gather you in from all the peoples from where Hashem, your G-d, has scattered you. If your dispersed will be at the ends of heaven, from there Hashem, your G-d, will gather you in, and from there, He will take you. Hashem, your G-d, will bring you to the land that your forefathers inherited and you will possess it. and He will benefit you and increase you beyond your forefathers.”
These are the very lines that have been incorporated into the Prayer for the State of Israel.
It is written that there is no permanent emunah, but only through the guarding of the mitzvah of Brit Milah. We see the lack of emunah in our generation. According to Gan Emunah, emunah is the trust that everything in this world, from the order of the cosmos to the movement of a blade of grass, comes from Hashem. It is the constant conviction that Hashem personally oversees everything that happens in your life. It is the knowledge that everything that happened to us is for our own benefit – regardless of whether or not we see it.
Taking this point further, emunah is the belief that following Hashem’s Will in everything we do is the only path to well-being. It means that we should always be honest in business because Hashem is watching. It means that good always wins out over evil because good is what Hashem wants of us. As Psalm 92 states: “When the wicked spring up as the grass, and when all the workers of iniquity do flourish; it is that they may be destroyed forever.” Even if it looks like being a certain type of “business savvy” may make you rich, or may make someone else rich – you will eventually have to pay for your actions – either in this world or the next. Emunah is the satisfaction that for every act of goodness we perform, Hashem is watching. Hashem is the greatest force in all existence. If He is happy with what you do each day, there is absolutely nothing to worry about.
If we don’t guard the Brit, how will we ever internalize these truths? We will, G-d forbid, go through our lives trying to control everything. Of the million and one things in the world we can’t control, we will stress about it all the time.
To violate the laws of sexual morality is to violate the covenant between Hashem and the Jewish people. The Zohar goes on to state that it is like bowing down to another deity. You are violating the second commandment. Of the Ten Commandments, this is the only commandment that mentions bringing on G-d’s wrath if it is not followed.
What does this mean? How do we become guilty of violating the covenant G-d established with Avraham 3,800 years ago?
What was the initial covenant Hashem made with Avraham. The agreement was that Avraham would observe Hashem’s laws, and in return, Hashem would make Avraham into a great nation. His offspring would dwell in the Land of Israel and they would serve Hashem with all their hearts and all their souls.
What was done to make this agreement official? Avraham performed the mitzvah of the Brit – he circumcised himself, his family, and all the converts who lived with him.
On the surface, circumcision is the simple act of removing the foreskin from the male organ. On a deeper level, it has much more significance.
The mitzvah of the Brit is the first mitzvah a Jew performs in his lifetime. He is accepting upon himself the obligations of a Jew and is entering into the binding agreement between G-d and the Jewish people.
First and foremost, this mitzvah recognizes that G-d exists. Second, it recognizes that G-d is what the Torah says He is – our Eternal King.
If a family didn’t believe this, why would they perform a Jewish rite of passage? Why not have the kid baptized? Or just have the circumcision performed by a doctor for health reasons?
When we perform this mitzvah on the eighth day, as demanded by G-d, in a manner that conforms to Jewish Law, we are stating that G-d exists. We are saying He reigns over the Jewish people and over the world, and we are obligated to keep our part of the agreement by following the Torah and living our lives according to His dictates.
What are His dictates?
We are Commanded by G-d, as the Book of Deuteronomy states, to choose the path of life. We are told to choose good over evil. We are supposed to focus our energies on what is right.
What is right? The Torah. The Torah tells us what is right and wrong. G-d guides us at every decision on the correct path to take.
Can’t we make our own determination of right and wrong?
Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch address’ this question in his commentary on the story of Adam and Eve. Adam sinned by eating the fruit of knowledge of good and evil. Before the sin, Adam performed G-d’s Will instinctively. He didn’t have to think twice about anything. His intuition about right and wrong was exactly what Hashem set as right and wrong. The moment Adam ate the fruit, everything changed. Adam didn’t acquire knowledge of G-d’s good and evil, he acquired a concept of good and evil. Now that he had unobstructed free will, he could independently determine what is right and what is wrong. It was the birth of moral relativity, and the downfall of mankind.
The Brit Milah is a commitment to what is absolutely right. It is to pledge one’s life to the only principles of right and wrong that matter. Right is what Hashem says is right. Wrong is what Hashem says is wrong. Where did He say this? In the Torah. The Brit Milah is a sort of tsuva. We are committing ourselves to overcome our personal feelings of good and bad to return our soul’s to Hashem by following His laws on right and wrong.
This is at the core of the rite of entrance to the Jewish faith. It is the acceptance that a human being is born imperfect. It is the acknowledgment that we must actively strive to perfect ourselves in this world by focusing our energies in order to realize our potential. It is the acceptance that we are born with the obligation to place Hashem before us and within us at all times.
To perform this task, Hashem Blessed the Jewish People with passion. In the words of Aish HaTorah Dean Rabbi Noah Weinberg, throughout history, the Jews are a driven people. Every scientific advancement, social movement, and political upheaval has included a very disproportionate number of Jews relative to our population as a nation.
We are the most passionate people on earth.
The Covenant of the Brit is a Jew’s lifelong commitment to channel those passions into Holiness.
Hashem loves us. He wants us to realize all of our potential. He wants us to make His world a better place by performing His mitzvas. He wants us to merit a full life in this world, and a wonderful place in Olam Habah.
For the primary purpose of giving us the chance to earn all of this: He doesn’t make it easy!
What is the biggest passion there is? The passion for sex. The Torah states that the biggest temptation known to man is his sexual urge.
What is the greatest source of energy in a human being? The ability to create life. Where does life come from in this world? From, as the Pirkei Avot says, a putrid drop. Where does that putrid drop come from? From the act of sex. The greatest human made product, the body, comes from the greatest source of human energy, which emanates from an act driven by the greatest of human passions.
A core of fundamental Judaism: serving G-d is about restraining yourself. More to the point, it’s about re-channeling your energies. It is about maximizing ourselves by utilizing our passions correctly. In doing so, the rewards are greater than anything imaginable. The spiritual energy we receive, which is the basic fuel for our daily life, is immense.
Controlling and driving our passions for good instead of bad is the very cornerstone of existence. Resisting temptation keeps our existence Holy.
This is symbolized by cutting back a piece of the organ that is associated with the strongest passion. This organ has the ability to create life. It also has the ability to destroy souls. We remove a piece of the foreskin as a way of saying that our job in life is to restrain and re-channel our body for the benefit of our soul. We do this, performing the first commandment G-d makes of us, as a way of saying that even our most intense desires must be mandated by our Creator. Everything good in life comes from Him and nothing is beyond Him. We do this to say that even the acts we may see as carnal, like sex, or cutting off a piece of one’s organ at 8 days old, are acts, that if performed according to G-d’s Will, are intrinsically Holy acts and will insure that G-d will look after us and Bless us. As stated in Pirkei Avot, “Make your will His will, so He can make His will your will.”
This is at the heart of the rite of the Brit Milah, entering into the Jewish Covenant between G-d and our people.
So what happens when we misuse the very organ which sealed this Covenant? We annul the agreement. In our actions, we are stating that our passions are not something that we wish to channel somewhere. We prefer to let them loose and indulge at will. We are saying that there is no such thing as restraint, no concept on focusing our energies, no reason to refrain from doing those things which G-d forbids. We are redefining good and evil. We are independently defining what is right and what is wrong. This is the opposite of what G-d Commands of us.
The rite of Circumcision begins at the age of 8 days old. It does not end when the Mohel puts his scalpel down and screams “Mazel Tov!”
It is an ongoing commandment that we must follow all of our lives. This mitzvah stays with us forever. Guarding the purity and the holiness of the very organ we used to enter into the Covenant with G-d is something we must do at every minute of every day. To sin with this organ is to sin against the very Covenant our fathers accepted thousands of years ago.
This is why the Zohar says that to be false to this mitzvah is tantamount to serving another deity. We have annulled our faith in the G-d of Israel by walking away from our ancient and eternal relationship with Him. This is what is meant when the Zohar states that observing the laws of sexual purity is like observing the entire Torah. As long as we guard the mitzvah of being a part of the Covenant we share with G-d, we will always be bound to Him. As long as we stay a part of this relationship, every other mitzvah we perform will be within the parameters of this bond. Every mitzvah will count even more because the Commandments we are observing are being done within a document, the Torah that we ratify within ourselves at every moment.
In keeping this mitzvah, we perform every other mitzvah on a vastly higher spiritual level. Our entire essence can be tremendously uplifted in keeping this one mitzvah.
This concept can be found in the word itself. The word Brit, has a Gematra of 612. That can imply that the other 612 mitzvot stand on the foundation of the mitzvah of the Brit.
I can personally attest to this. I was not shmirat HaBrit when I made Tsuva. For a long time I did many mitzvoth, but not while keeping the laws of sexual purity. I thought I was doing fine. I didn’t realize how much of my neshama I was not utilizing. When I took on this mitzvah, The sensation of connecting to a Higher Source became immensely more energizing, invigorating, and joyous. It felt like I made tsuva all over again. Every mitzvah I did became filled with 100 times more energy. Every prayer I recited became a deeper connection to Hashem. I thought I was doing fine before I took on the laws of Shmirat HaBrit. I quickly discovered the closeness one gets to Hashem cannot compare with the immense closeness and joy one feels when he performs the same mitzvoth. But this time while being Shmirat Habrit. I didn’t take on this mitzvah overnight. It’s a challenging process, but if I can do this, anyone can. The all-encompassing happiness that accompanies this mitzvah is something that Hashem, in His love for His children, makes available to all of us.
He is giving us the opportunity to do tsuva and to realize the pure joy of defeating the demons of this world in serving Him with the highest level of vigor and strength. Every day we wake up is like a statement from our Creator saying, “I know how much you sinned yesterday, but I think today you can do better. I believe in you and that you can overcome your passions to serve Me. I want to bless you in this world and in The Next with all My Heart. Today is an opportunity to uncover the greatest happiness there is on earth.” It’s no wonder why a Jew starts his day by proclaiming the words, “Modeh ani le’fanecha.” I give thanks before You. . . . .
Let’s talk a little more about the dangers of pgam habrit. A question should be asked. If someone has not reached the age of mitzvoth, is he held accountable to this? We should also ask that if you didn’t know of the exact consequences of this sin, or of the sin itself, are you still guilty?
The answer to both questions is yes. Even if you are underage, or don’t know about the laws of sexual morality, you are guilty of this sin if you commit it. According to Sharai Kedusha, this is not true for any other sin in the Bible with the exception of this one. If you are 11 years old, you can eat on Yom Kippur and you’re not guilty of a sin. If you are 11 years old and don’t know that looking at an immodest woman is wrong, yet you still do it, it is a sin. This is something parents have to be specifically careful about. In this day and age, a six year old will most likely surf the net better than most of us. I believe that Hashem, like any merciful judge, would show mercy to a first offender at a very young age. However, this is still a sin. A parent must make sure that there are high quality blockers installed on their children’s computer. They should install software that gives a list of all websites viewed on that computer. It may be intrusive but we parents will do anything for our own children. We do all that is in our abilities to protect our children from anything dangerous. Protecting kids from the severe consequences of sexual misconduct is one of the great things we can do for our children.
Because of this sin, a person can lose his destined zivug. What is a zivug? While a baby is in the womb, Hashem decrees who his destined soul mate will be. Before he or she is born, G-d decrees who that person will later marry. Your destined mate is called your zivug. This is the person who is completely ideal for you and that you fit with perfectly. A person can lose the merit to find his zivug. This happens sometimes, especially in cases when one commits sins of sexual immorality. When this happens, you will find not your zivug. Hashem Willing, you will find your Besheret. The moment you both get married, your Besheret automatically becomes your zivug. This is someone who isn’t the perfect person for you, but becomes the perfect person for you over time as you both grow together. However, this individual isn’t the person you were originally meant to marry. It has been said by many authorities that many of us do not marry our destined soul mates! According to our faith, if you are pgam habrit, not only do you not marry your destined zivug, you may spend your entire life not ever knowing that person. Even worse, you could meet this person, know on every level of your being that this person is the one – and go through the agony and horror of that person rejecting you!
Ever obsess over someone, just knowing that this person is the one? Ever have a friend feel the same way about someone? With such a depressingly high rate of singles among the Jewish community, there has to be a direct correlation between keeping this mitzvah and in ending the agony of being alone. I was single for 10 years. I met the woman who became my wife only when I started taking on this mitzvah.
There’s good news! The good news is that if you do tsuva for this sin, your destined wife will no longer rebel against you. You will find this person and live happily ever after. We do have more than one destined soul mate in our lifetime. Hashem Willing, we will only have one wife. HaKadosh Baruch Hu brings redemption in the blink of an eye. After 50 dates, 20 singles events, and 100 phone calls, you can find your wife while waiting for a taxi, or buying coffee. It can happen when she suddenly knocks on your door because her friends address said 1C and she wrote 1B by accident.
David Fink is the Editor-in-Chief of the daily investment newsletter, Real Wealth Recon. In 2008, his Real Wealth portfolio MADE MONEY, outperforming the three major indices by 38%, and the average Hedge Fund by 25%. For $99 a year, you get David’s daily market commentary, instant emails for every trade he makes, total access to David’s portfolio, and a weekly review of the major articles published around the world. Why hand over your hard earned money to someone in a suit saying “trust me.” Keep your money and trust yourself. Join the elite investors who are making money this year, and tell Wall Street: YOU’RE FIRED!