"ברית מילה"
“Circumcision”

QUESTION: Why is the circumcision ceremony called britmilah?

ANSWER: In the Torah there are 613 mitzvot and one of them is circumcision. On the eighth day, the child has properly fulfilled the mitzvah of milah and still has 612 mitzvot to fulfill. The word“brit” (ברית) numerically adds up to 612, reminding the child of all the remaining mitzvot.

(עי' פרדס יוסף, שמות ד:כד דמצות מילה מקיים הקטן וראי' מרש"י חולין מ"ז ע"ב ד"ה המתינו, ועי' לקוטי שיחות חי"א ע' 45)

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QUESTION: At a brit it is customary for all present to proclaim: “Just as he is entered into the covenant, so may he enter into Torah, and into marriage, and into good deeds.”

Why do we associate these three things with the brit?

ANSWER: The circumcision done at the brit is permanent. Once it is performed, it cannot be changed in any way. Those present at the brit express a threefold blessing and prayer for the child. First, just as the brit is permanent, likewise his connection to Torah should be everlasting. Second, the person he marries should be his companion for life. The third and concluding blessing is that throughout his lifetime he should constantly perform good deeds.

(לקוטי בתר לקוטי)

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Alternatively, the first mitzvah in which the child is involved is a brit. Due to his young age, his parents must take an active role in planning and preparing. When it comes to Yiddishkeit, many parents have a tendency to say, “When our child becomes older, he will make his own decisions.” Therefore, all present at the brit call to the attention of the parents: “Kesheim shenichnas labrit” — just as at the brit the parents were actively involved — “kein yikaneis leTorah ulechupa ulema’asim tovim” — so too, when the son reaches the age of Torah study, marriage and good deeds, the parents should be actively involved in all of his decisions.


"הרחמן הוא ישלח לנו משיחו...הרחמן הוא ישלח לנו כהן צדק אשר לקח לעילום"
“May the Merciful One send us His Mashiach... May the Merciful One send us [Eliyahu] the righteous priest who was taken into concealment”

QUESTION: The Kohen Tzedek — righteous priest — refers to Eliyahu. Originally he was Pinchas, whom Hashem rewarded with priesthood for his zealousness, and in the end was taken into concealment when he ascended to Heaven in the whirlwind (II Kings 2:11).

Since it is Eliyahu who will herald the coming of Mashiach, why is Mashiach mentioned in the fifth Harachaman and Eliyahu in the sixth?

ANSWER: Though it is commonly accepted that Eliyahu will herald the coming of Mashiach, nevertheless, the Rambam (Melachim 12:2) says that “Among the chachamim — wise men — some say that Eliyahu will appear prior to the coming of Mashiach. However, man will not know this clearly until it actually happens...and therefore there are disputes about this.”

Regarding the redemption the Prophet says, “Be’itah achishenah” — “In its time I will hasten it” (Isaiah 60:22). The phrase “in its time,” i.e. at its predetermined time, apparently contradicts the phrase “I will hasten it” which implies that the redemption will come earlier. The Gemara (Sanhedrin 98a) explains that there is “be’itah” — “a preordained time” — for the redemption but Hashem may decide “achishenah” — “to hasten” — the redemption before the preordained time. If the Jews are deserving, then, “Achishenah” — “I will hasten it.” If they are not deserving, then, “Be’itah” — “[It will occur] in its time.”

Commentaries explain that the Rambam is not disputing what is commonly accepted about Eliyahu and Mashiach, but rather that there are two ways in which the revelation of Mashiach may take place and this determines whether Eliyahu will precede or follow the coming of Mashiach.

Should we have to wait for the redemption to happen in the preordained time, then it will be heralded by Eliyahu. However, if it is hastened, then all established decorum will be negated and Mashiach will arrive unexpectedly and unannounced.

Thus, our prayer (in the fifth Harachaman) is that Hashem redeem us hastily and send Mashiach instantaneously even without being heralded by Eliyahu. However if, G‑d forbid, we do not merit it, then we ask Hashem (in the sixth Harachaman) to send Eliyahu to inform us that the preordained time for our redemption has arrived.

(שו"ת בית יחזקאל מר' צבי יחזקאל ז"ל מיכלזון, כרתי ופלתי יו"ד סוף סי' ק"י)