Skip to content

Sukkat Shalom B'nei Noach

Home » Parshat Lech Lecha – Mila

Parshat Lech Lecha – Mila

Genesis 12:1–17:27

  • There is a parallel between the covenants and the signs of the covenants that take place between G-d and Noach, and G-d and Avraham, respectively.
    • In Noach’s case, God makes a covenant with humanity not to bring another world-destroying flood, and the sign of this covenant is the rainbow.
    • In Avraham’s case, the covenant and its sign are the same—the bris mila. G-d promises to be the G-d of Avraham and his descendants in exchange for their observance of circumcision
  • There is also a parallel between Noach and Avraham in that both “walk” with relation to G-d
    • Noach walks with G-d
    • Avraham is told to walk “before Me”
      • Chazal indicate that this demonstrates Avraham’s more advanced level of righteousness
        • Noach builds an ark in view of people so that they will be inspired by themselves to do teshuva
        • Avraham actively prays for the protection of people who are considered reshayim and proactively seeks guests, offers hospitality; he and Sarah create souls—people who are converted to belief in G-d
        • Through milah, Avraham is asked to “be perfect”, to go a level beyond what was asked of Noach. Noach was not asked to alter his body, whereas Avraham is told that he is a ba’al mum as long as he has not performed milah.
      • On the other hand, Noach could achieve his level of spiritual development without the need for milah, whereas if Avraham had remained uncircumcised, he would not. He would not be complete without the milah.
      • Mila is a mitzva that is only incumbent upon male descendants of Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov, and yet in exchange, G-d forges a special relationship with the entire Jewish people
        • Women are not required to perform mila, because they do not have a foreskin.
          • They are not baalos mum, and hence they make the beracha of she’asani kir’tzono (“Who has made me according to His Will”), without any modification required, unlike men.
          • This is parallel to Noach and b’nei Noach, who are not commanded to perform the mitzva of mila, as it is not a mitzva that was repeated at Har Sinai.
            • Q: was anyone outside the family of Avraham ever required to perform mila?
            • A: No (Sanhedrin 59b)
              • Therefore, B’nei Noach do not have to perform the mitzva of mila
        • What aspect of mila is germaine for women and B’nei Noach?
          • The fact that the concept of orla applies to the ears, the lips and the heart.
          • For a Jewish male, milas ha’orla is a prerequisite to the removal of the other types of “foreskins”
          • But even after the foreskin is removed, a person has to remove the orlas halev, as it says in Devarim 10:16, and you shall circumcise your hearts etc.
            • Yechezkel 36:26 the heart of stone gets replaced by the heart of flesh

By Rabbi Tani Burton

© Copyright, all rights reserved. If you enjoyed this article, we encourage you to distribute it further.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The reCAPTCHA verification period has expired. Please reload the page.