Yom Kippur Reflections

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    • Michal 1 year ago

      Circumcision- Yom Kippur

      In the Yom Kippur prayers, these  words are said many times: וּמָל ה אֱלֹקֶיךָ אֶת לְבָבְךָ וְאֶת לְבַב זַרְעֶךָ לְאַהֲבָה אֶת ה אֱלֹקֶיךָ בְּכָל לְבָבְךָ וּבְכָל נַפְשְׁךָ לְמַעַן חַיֶּיךָ, Then Hashem, Your Elokim will circumcise your hearts, and the heart of your descendants, to Love Hashem Your Elokim  with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live.[1]

      The Ibn Ezra explains that unlike a Bris Milah which is an obligation, Hashem will help with this surgery  of the heart and of your children.

      The Ramchal describes in Derech Etz Hachaim a process in which before a person is born, he or she is immersed in all of Torah to empower a person to fix the world as is befitting a person.  Once a person comes into the world, a Malach comes and initiates “forgetting” of the Torah to make space for the Yetzer Harah to take a hold for otherwise a person would expel the yetzer hara, as he will be like an angel without  an ability to have free choice in order to do the fixing necessary.  He also says that there is a circumcision  of flesh performed for a child at 8 days,  however there still remains הערלה הפנימית, the internal foreskin, known as ערלת הלב, the foreskin of the heart, remains and cannot get removed until one is: שלוש עשרה שנים ויום אחד,  thirteen years and “Day one”.

      In this time frame, up until a person reaches Bar Mitzvah, one is exempt from mitzvos and  mussar is essential  to remove the ערלת הלב completely.

      I think it is possible to draw a parallel to the process the bris Milah and the removal of  הערלה הפנימית, the internal (heart) circumcision offered by Hashem, Elokim to us on Yom Kippur and as promised by Hashem in the verse that follows us being brought in to Eretz Yisroel. It is also important to note that the removal of this ערלת הלב allows for loving Hashem with all your hearts and soul with these words: אַהֲבָה אֶת ה אֱלֹקֶיךָ בְּכָל לְבָבְךָ וּבְכָל נַפְשְׁךָ לְמַעַן חַיֶּיךָ.  When we say the Shema, it also follows with the Mitzvah of loving Hashem with all our hearts, soul and an additional invitation of “V’chol m’odecha”.  If circumcision of the heart is required to love Hashem with all our hearts and soul, it would be reasonable to think that there is an identical process happening possible with performing the  mitzvah of  Shema that allows for loving Hashem this way even if it is not Yom Kippur or in the time of redemption.   Meaning, how can Hashem give us a mitzvah to love Him, that requires this type of surgery if we were not able to access this surgery?    Additionally, the mitzvah of loving Hashem this way is something we say morning and evening daily, which would mean we can actually access Yom Kippur and redemption daily if we are fulfilling what entails when we say  The Shema properly biezras Hashem.

      This process of the removal of the ערלת הלב, to love Hashem as described in the pasuk and also in the Shema prayer I believe is found in the first and second story of creation.

      The first story is a world of potential and therefore the first stage can be likened to the seven days of creation in preparation for the culmination of all of the potential directed in the form of a Bris Milah for the eighth day for a human being with a higher soul to access the covenant between The Creator.

      The second story of Creation is a world of relationships. It begins with a world in a state of potential waiting for the human being with a higher soul to recognize and know Hashem for the world of potential to now be expressed.

      Adam davens to Hashem for rain, receives a Neshama with a higher soul and goes through stages in his planting, placement in the garden in Eden.[2] The Garden  is considered the Eretz Yisroel by Chazal.[3] This planting and series of  placements[4] leads to  opportunities for  Adam mastering loving Hashem with all his heart and soul.  Similarly, the pasuk that precedes, וּמָל ה אֱלֹקֶיךָ אֶת לְבָבְךָ , describes us being brought to the land (Eretz Yisroel) our Fathers inherited[5].

      This leads to this “circumcision of one’s heart, by Hashem ” for the purposes of loving Hashem with all your hearts and soul.

      Adam Harishon did not need a bris milah surgically as he was born with a bris Milah already according to Chazal.[6]  Chazal also tells us that had he not sinned, there would not have been a difference between himself and a Malach, except for the fact he would have been greater as a Tzadik can rise higher than angels.

      I believe there are different forms of circumcisions found in the second story of creation, and therefore available and possible for us as well.

      Adam receives a Mitzvah from Hashem, Elokim: ויצו ה’ אלקים על־האדם לאמר מכל עץ־הגן אכל תאכל.[7] This was the first Mitzvah from Hashem, Elokim which would therefore imply that Adam would need to unify His name. The unification of Hashem is the second Positive Mitzvah in the Torah according to the Rambam[8].  Which is sourced in the Mitzvah of saying Shema.

      I believe this is the directive to Adam to rise higher than an angel as described by Chazal. Hashem Elokim directs the Adam “Al”, to choose to live a life accepting responsibility.[9]  It is also directed from Hashem, Elokim the combination of Din and Rachamim, which leads me to understand that He is giving Adam the directive to be a human being who is now able to elevate all of the world.  It is not only a world of Din which ultimately needs to be destroyed as it is not possible , but with Rachamim combined we can live an eternal life.

      This is a moment in which he has the ability to choose attachment to Hashem actively which is the opportunity of a human being to self -remove the internal foreskin with Hashem’s Help.  Hashem’s Help in this case was by showing him what was possible for him, by giving him this opportunity with this Mitzvah.  This is described in more detail in Koheles Rabba, with Adam being lifted and He does Chazara with Adam[10].  I think the Chazara of all the Torah we were given before being born is what is possible with each Mitzvah Hashem gives us to master ourselves and remove the internal foreskin. In other words becoming a Bar or Bas Mitzvah.  This seems to me what was available to Adam Harishon in that moment and what is possible for us with the Mitzvos of the Shema. It is a shitfus, partnership type of circumcision available to us.

      The words in Shema are as follows:  וְהָיוּ הַדְּ֒בָרִים הָאֵֽלֶּה אֲשֶׁר֯ אָ֯נֹכִי מְצַוְּ֒ךָ הַיּוֹם עַל֯־לְ֯בָבֶֽךָ, which connects with the words in the second story of creation of : ויצו ה’ אלקים על־האדם .

      (The shitfus possible is the second story of creation. It is a world of relationships as it says: אלה תולדות השמים והארץ, These are the relationships of Heaven and Earth[11].  It is in this world of formation and combinations, that Hashem forms the Primal human being with a higher soul, a  being combined of seemingly opposite elements, of earth and a Divine Soul.[12] )

      Following this parallel of the first directive to Shema and the verses and descriptions of the circumcision of heat, we can conclude that the purpose of the first directive is to love Hashem with all one’s hearts and soul and possessions.

      This could have been expressed with finding Hashem as his Ezer K’negdo as the ultimate acceptance of “Vayitzav Al”. Adam does not follow this directive of rising to what is possible, and instead remains passive as we know because Hashem says, [13]וּלְאָדָם לֹא־מָצָא עֵזֶר כְּנֶגְדּוֹ, and for Adam, he did not find his helpmeet, or  עֵזֶר כְּנֶגְדּוֹ, despite all the steps and invitations Hashem offered in the prior pesukim. This implies that he was not looking.

      I think that in the same way Adam Harishon did not need a Bris Milah as he was born with it, meant that he could have self-performed this surgery by exercising his choice, with Hashem as His Ezer K’negdo.  Had he done so, if I am correct, he would not have sinned, and He would have risen higher than an angel at that moment.

      It also may be the reason why Avraham Avinu who does succeed in fulfilling the purpose of creation, performs his own surgery, bris Milah on himself as a fixing of the missed opportunity.

      I think that Hashem then offers Adam Harishon another opportunity for such a moment of choice, or לְאַהֲבָה אֶת ה אֱלֹקֶיךָ בְּכָל לְבָבְךָ וּבְכָל נַפְשְׁךָ לְמַעַן חַיֶּיךָ.

      Hashem-Elokim performs a surgery on him to bring him an Ezer K’negdo. וַיַּפֵּלה אֱלֹקִים  תַּרְדֵּמָה עַל־הָאָדָם וַיִּישָׁן וַיִּקַּח אַחַת מִצַּלְעֹתָיו וַיִּסְגֹּר בָּשָׂר תַּחְתֶּנָּה.  Hashem, Elokim cast a deep sleep upon “the” Adam and he slept, and Hashem took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh below it.

      According to the Ishbitzer, Hashem hid the Ohr Habahir when imposing this surgery, and deep sleep on Adam, so that Adam can still earn the ability to choose life. [14]

      Finally the Adam is sent and then evicted from the Garden, perhaps also a moment of וּמָל ה אֱלֹקֶיךָ אֶת לְבָבְךָ וְאֶת לְבַב זַרְעֶךָ.   The galus, representing the Yesurim necessary until we become a true Bar or Bas Mitzvah to choose life.

      May we be Zoche to circumcise our hearts seeking Hashem as our Eizer Kinegdo.










      [1] Devarim 30:6

      [2] Beraishis, primarily verses: 7-16

      [3] Midrash Tehillim, 56:2

      [4] Beraishis, primarily verses: 7-16

      [5] Devarim 30:5 וֶהֱבִיאֲךָ יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ אֶל־הָאָרֶץ אֲשֶׁר־יָרְשׁוּ אֲבֹתֶיךָ וִירִשְׁתָּהּ וְהֵיטִבְךָ וְהִרְבְּךָ מֵאֲבֹתֶיךָ

      [6] As taught by HaRav Simcha L Weinberg in classes on Gan Eden

      [7] Beraishis, 2:16

      [8] ליחדו, שנאמר: “הּ אלקינו, הּ אחד”

      [9] As I understood HaRav Simcha L Weinberg in his explanation of “Al”

      [10] Koheles Rabba 7: ראה את מעשה האלהים וגו’ (קהלת ז), בשעה שברא הקדוש ברוך הוא את אדם הראשון, נטלו והחזירו על כל אילני גן עדן ואמר לו, ראה מעשי כמה נאים ומשובחים הן, וכל מה שבראתי בשבילך בראתי, תן דעתך שלא תקלקל ותחריב את עולמי

      [11] Beraishis 2:4

      [12] וייצר ה אלקים את־האדם עפר מן־האדמה ויפח באפיו נשמת חיים ויהי האדם לנפש חיה, (Beraishis, 2:7)

      [13] HaRav Simcha L Weinberg in his classes on this topic, Beraishis, 2:20.  Also, notice how Adam is not titled HaAdam as he was titled when He davened and Hashem blew a living soul in him.

      [14] Mei HaShiloach, Volume II, Genesis, Bereshit

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