Friday Candle Lighting: 7:44 PM
Shabbat Ends: 8:46 PM
Mutilation or Dedication
“…and (do not) seek after your heart and after your eyes which will lead you astray” [Rashi: The heart and the eyes are like the body’s spies, brokering for it the sins sought by its animal nature] (15:39)
Hermann Rauschning in his book “Gespräche mit Hitler” (published in English as Hitler Speaks) writes that Hitler said to him; “The tablets of Mount Sinai have lost their validity. Conscience is a Jewish invention. Like circumcision it mutilates man.”
It’s interesting that Hitler linked conscience with circumcision. Conscience requires us to think about the consequences of our actions, to focus on the future and not the present. The body wants to ignore consequences. The body’s agenda is instant gratification — a gratification that evaporates immediately with its satisfaction. Circumcision dedicates that part of a man’s body from which flows his future, his tomorrow. So too, with a woman, the Hebrew name for womb is rechem. You can rearrange the letters of rechem to spell machar, which means “tomorrow.” The body is not interested in the future. Its entire agenda is the present. Both conscience and circumcision harness our instincts and direct them to build a future world.
Conscience comes from Sinai. The Torah mandated a revolution in human behavior: Education for all. The sanctity of human life, equality before the law, a vision of world peace where nations would beat their swords into ploughshares, the moral imperative to care for the sick, the aged, the orphan, the widow.
What the arch anti-Semite called mutilation, we call dedication.
Avraham Avinu made a brit — a pact with G-d. Avraham dedicated his future, his progeny, and their progeny throughout the generations, to G-d. And G-d, so to speak, dedicated everything that He would be in this world to come about through the children of Avraham Avinu. The covenant was the mutual dedication of everything each would ever be to the other.