Kenneth Cohen


We learned at the end of Parshat Lech Lecha, the importance of the Mitzva of Brit Milah, or circumcision. Avraham Avinu performed this Mitzva at the age of 99. This is what made him complete, and worthy of being the father of the Jewish nation.

Other than the offering of the Pesach sacrifice, Milah is the only positive commandment in the Torah, where a punishment is attached for its non fulfillment. The punishment is “Karet,” being cut off from the Jewish nation.

It is amazing how many times I have witnessed adult males, who eagerly performed this Mitzva, in their desire to convert and become part of the Jewish nation.

It is equally amazing how this Mitzva is fulfilled by Jews of all denominations, as they realize that this is the ritual, that makes the Jewish baby, part of the Jewish people.

In the days of the Tanach, it was a very derogatory way to speak of someone as ערל, “Arel,” or uncircumcised. David told King Saul that there was no need for him to be afraid of the ערל, Goliath.

This coming week’s Parsha, begins with Abraham’s recovery from his procedure. Hashem visits him to show the example of visiting the sick.

There is a Midrash that says that Avraham sat by the entrance to Gehinnom (translated as hell) and tried to even prevent the wicked from entering unless they were circumcised.

This Mitzva has a great deal of mystery connected to it. Yet, all Jews understand and believe how important it is to perform. It represents a kind of inexplicable spiritual bond between all Jews.

This spiritual bond should spread to become a physical bond, where we become as we were on Mount Sinai, איש אחד בלב אחד, like one man of one heart.

About the Author
Rabbi Cohen has been a Torah instructor at Machon Meir, Jerusalem, for over twenty years while also teaching a Talmud class in the Shtieblach of Old Katamon. Before coming to Israel, he was the founding rabbi of Young Israel of Century City, Los Angeles. He recently published a series of Hebrew language-learning apps, which are available at