01b. B'rit Milah (Part B)
To neglect circumcision (b’rit milah) is to neglect the chosen sign of the covenant, and consequently, it is rejection of the covenant itself.
Avraham did not hesitate to circumcise both himself as well as the males of his household. Looking forward at its effect in the biblical narratives, we learn that it was to become a unique marker, outwardly identifying those males of the offspring of Avraham, as inheritors of the magnificent promises that HaShem was making with this man. It did not, nor does it now serve to secure those promises through personal effort. What is more, the sign of circumcision was to be an indicator that all subsequent male covenant participants were adopting the same faith that Avraham possessed! Obviously it was incumbent upon the faithful father to pass this sign onto his son; 8-day old baby boys do not circumcise themselves. The promises were of faith (read Romans chapter 4 carefully). To be 100% sure, the Torah says that the promises were given to him before he was circumcised (Ibid. 10, 11)! This is why, after HaShem promised that his seed would be as numerous as the stars (15:5, 6), Avraham was credited with being righteous—because he believed the unbelievable!
The implied meaning of the term “b’rit milah” is “covenant [of] circumcision.” Why does Judaism refer to circumcision as a covenant? I believe that this act betrays the Torah’s intensions to speak to the circumcised male about his responsibilities in helping to bring about the truth that HaShem and HaShem alone can bring the previously mentioned promises of Avraham to come to pass. Let us examine the details.