This week's Torah portion ends with what might be called The Bris Heard Round the World.

Abraham's self-performed circumcision at the ripe age of ninety-nine clinched his reputation as a saintly man and launched him into an unprecedented stratosphere of devotion and prophecy. Abraham also received G‑d's blessings for numerous, pious and powerful offspring.

All this for slicing off a piece of foreskin! Is there a mohel in the house?

The world has a saying that you can't teach an old dog new tricks. The old dog is already so set in his routines and habits — his eating, sleeping, midnight barking and stick-fetching — that you might as well try to teach him to meow and climb a tree as teach him a new way to rollover.

This is especially true if the old dog's routines were successful. Why should he learn a new trick?

But Abraham had a greater vision. He understood that the spiritual world of the soul is vastly different than the world of dogs and their tricks. In the world of the soul, there's no end to the good that can be done, the wisdom that can be learned or the success that can be achieved.

Abraham was forever challenging his habits and routines. As a young man, he single-handedly smashed the world's false gods. He then dedicated his life to spreading monotheism and morality, teaching mainly by the example of his hospitality and unending kindness. Throughout, he wrote books that were like road atlases to the highest spheres of mysticism.

Abraham was 99. Yet he viewed himself spiritually as no more than an eight-day-old baby with no where to go but up.

All he had to do was cut away a small old layer of foreskin.