second chances on first principles

Today is Pesach Sheini, which coincides with Rebbe Meir Baal HaNess' hillulah. It's a good day to share part of the Torah I gave over on my son's brit.

A few days after he was born, I went to buy him some sefarim. (continuing a minhag from my father of buying your children things when their born that they will grow to use when they're older) What should I buy for my first born son? I was looking for the book פרי הארץ Pri Ha'aretz - Fruit of the Land, written by the first Hassidic Rebbe to make aliyah, Rebbe Menachem Mendel of Vitebsk.

I consider this to be the Bikurim, the first fruits of Hassidut, because the first fruit is an offering brought only in the land of Israel. What better to bring my firstborn son (who was born in Israel) as a first present than the first fruits of Hassidut?

So, while learning all about the ritual and mitzwah of Brith Milah for the upcoming occasion, I learned a little from my son's Pri Ha'aretz. All of the sefarim I had looked at outlined different aspects of the spiritual undergoings up in the supernal realms that are carried out through the performance of the mitzwah of the Brith Milah. The Pri Ha'aretz mentioned them as well, but then he went on to say that the essence of the Brith Milah is in the emunah that we express through the mitzwah. That is the heart, the true depth of the mitzwah of Brith Milah, we are performing this mitzwah out of a boundless faith in HaShem.

This is a wonderful and deep expression of the Torah of Eretz Yisrael, the land of Israel. The reason behind our every mitzwah, our fulfillment of every one of God's commandments, is our deep faith in Him.

Unfortunately in our generation there are many who believe that having faith is enough. They think it is enough to believe there is a God, and then to go about their daily business with no awareness of this Godliness. Everyone draws the line at some point and says "I don't really need to do this.. it's enough that I know it's the right thing to do. I would really do it if I could.." There's this mistaken belief in the world, that the belief, the understanding, the intention, is enough, is the requirement. Why then did God command us to do all these actions?

Now, the Noam Elimelech brings down about Akeidath Yitzhak, the binding of Yitzhak, that both Avraham and Yitzhak knew that the true goal was for them to be ready and willing to offer Yitzhak as an offering, but that in reality he would not be sacrificed. Yitzhak turns to his father and asks him: "If we both know that I'm ready to offer myself, and God certainly knows, why do we have to go through the ritual, the actions of offering me? We both know that I won't be sacrificed, why show HaShem something he already knows?" Avraham answered him like so, "The whole point of our existence in this world of action is to bring our certainty in HaShem, our Emunah, into expression through physical action. Until you have ascended the mountain and been bound to the altar, you haven't accomplished anything."

This then, is the first fruits of Hassidut, the root of its strength: We were put in this world to perform the mitzwoth out of a boundless faith in HaShem.

This was the Torah that I chose to share on the occasion of the brith milah of my firstborn son.

Why is it special to share this Torah in relation with Pesach Sheini? Because normally, when we miss out on performing a mitzwah, there's little we can do, we missed out on an oppurtunity to do something meaningful with that slice of our lives. Offering the karbon pesach, the pascal lamb, is such a special mitzwah however, that those that missed out of the first pesach offering came to Mosheh to ask HaShem if there wasn't some way for them to still perform the mitzwah. They, and anyone similarly indisposed in all future generations, received a special dispensation for this particular mitzwah, they would get a second chance one month later (on what became Pesach Sheini - a second Pesach) to perform the mitzwah, so that they wouldn't miss out on the oppurtunity to show their devotion to, and emunah in, HaShem.


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