Bris Milah is Painful. This Is The Secret of Its Celebration.
This week we merited to bring our son into the Bris between Hashem and His people. For Aliza and I, this was a particularly emotional mitzvah – Our son is the first child born in the family since the passing of my father-in-law. As such, our boy will merit to carry (most of) his grandfather's name, as we named him Alter Yehuda Yudel. (Don't worry mom – We're calling him Yehuda.)
The night before the bris, in preparation for this mitzvah, I spend time thinking and learning while holding our new son. (Some of these ideas were shared at the Bris, some are written here for the first time.)
Bris Milah is a uniquely important mitzvah on many levels. From a cultural and historical perspective, the mitzvah of Milah was almost always outlawed by out enemies. And yet, it was almost always performed with great mesirus nefesh, even in the worst of circumstances. From a halachik perspective, Bris Milah is the only positive mitzvah that we fulfill today that would incurs kares for non-fulfillment. And from an emotional perspective, the Talmud tells us that the mitzvah of Milah is imbued with Simcha – joy – that enables this mitzvah to be performed joyfully throughout our generations.
The enduring commitment of Klal Yisrael to this mitzvah while awe-inspiring is noticeably peculiar. It is no secret that Bris Milah is an inherently painful and uncomfortable mitzvah. Despite the cries of babies and tears of mothers and fathers, the great mitzvah of Milah enjoys widespread observance – even amongst those who are not otherwise observant. Reasonably, none of us should enjoy it any more than taking our kids to the pediatrician to get their shots. The deepest desire of parents is to save our children from pain, and yet we willingly submit our infant sons to public surgery – and we celebrate it! What is it about this mitzvah that speak so deeply to the soul of our nation?