What does a baby's brit have to do with the Land of Israel?

Published date15 October 2021
וַיְהִ֣י אַבְרָ֔ם בֶּן־תִּשְׁעִ֥ים שָׁנָ֖ה וְתֵ֣שַׁע שָׁנִ֑ים וַיֵּרָ֨א יְקֹוָ֜ק אֶל־אַבְרָ֗ם וַיֹּ֤אמֶר אֵלָיו֙ אֲנִי־אֵ֣ל שַׁדַּ֔י הִתְהַלֵּ֥ךְ לְפָנַ֖י וֶהְיֵ֥ה תָמִֽים: וְאֶתְּנָ֥ה בְרִיתִ֖י בֵּינִ֣י וּבֵינֶ֑ךָ וְאַרְבֶּ֥ה אוֹתְךָ֖ בִּמְאֹ֥ד מְאֹֽד:

"And Abram was ninety-nine years old, and God appeared to Abram, and He said to him, I am the Almighty God; walk before Me and be perfect And I will place My covenant between Me and between you, and I will multiply you very greatly".

"And I will place My covenant" – a covenant of love and a covenant of the Land that will be your inheritance through fulfilling this mitzva (Rashi).

The Connection Between the Covenant of Circumcision, the Torah, and Eretz Yisrael (Land of Israel)


A Covenant Constitutes Commitment

The covenant presented in the verses cited above is brit mila, as we read in the continuation of the chapter: "זֹ֣את בְּרִיתִ֞י אֲשֶׁ֣ר תִּשְׁמְר֗וּ בֵּינִי֙ וּבֵ֣ינֵיכֶ֔ם וּבֵ֥ין זַרְעֲךָ֖ אַחֲרֶ֑יךָ הִמּ֥וֹל לָכֶ֖ם כָּל־זָכָֽר" ("This is My covenant, which you shall observe between Me and between you and between your seed after you, that every male among you be circumcised" [posuk (verse) 10]) and here Israel is first presented with this mitzva.

The concept of covenant constitutes commitment.

What is the Commitment Established by Brit Mila?

The bilateral covenant mentioned here includes the obligation on the part of all male descendants of Israel and all male converts who join Am Yisrael (the Nation of Israel) to circumcise themselves and their sons, and an obligation on God's part which includes two aspects: loving Israel and giving the Land of Israel to the nation.

Rashi, as a proponent of the simple meaning of the Bible (p'shat) guides us to a proper reading of the text, by focusing on the basic question of God's obligation in the covenant.

Pesukim 7 – 8 answer this question by stating: "וַהֲקִמֹתִ֨י אֶת־בְּרִיתִ֜י בֵּינִ֣י וּבֵינֶ֗ךָ וּבֵ֨ין זַרְעֲךָ֧ אַחֲרֶ֛יךָ לְדֹרֹתָ֖ם לִבְרִ֣ית עוֹלָ֑ם לִהְי֤וֹת לְךָ֙ לֵֽאלֹהִ֔ים וּֽלְזַרְעֲךָ֖ אַחֲרֶֽיךָ: וְנָתַתִּ֣י לְ֠ךָ וּלְזַרְעֲךָ֨ אַחֲרֶ֜יךָ אֵ֣ת׀ אֶ֣רֶץ מְגֻרֶ֗יךָ אֵ֚ת כָּל־אֶ֣רֶץ כְּנַ֔עַן לַאֲחֻזַּ֖ת עוֹלָ֑ם וְהָיִ֥יתִי לָהֶ֖ם לֵאלֹהִֽים" ("And I will establish My covenant between Me and between you and between your seed after you throughout their generations as an everlasting covenant, to be your God and the God of your seed after you. And I will give you and your seed after you the Land of your sojournings, the entire land of Canaan for an everlasting possession, and I will be to them a God").

There, as well, Rashi comments: "'I will establish My covenant' – and what is that covenant … 'to be your God,' etc." Thus, the verses present God's commitment to love His nation and to give them Eretz Yisrael through the covenant of circumcision.

What is God's Covenant of Love With Am Yisrael?

The meaning of giving Israel the Land is clear, but what is the intention of the covenant of love which the posuk and Rashi mention? There is no greater love than that of a God Who protects His nation, helps and guides it. Since this love clearly indicates that Israel has a...

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