Seeking the Holy Presence in Our Holy Land
“וביום השמיני ימול בשר ערלתו”
“May it be Your Will HaShem my God and the God of my Fathers that it be considered as if I have fulfilled this commandment with all proper intent in the commandment of circumcision… and bring upon the boy a holy soul, and Elijah of blessed memory shall bless the child to keep his covenant and not sin at all… and now I have brought the first fruit of the Land that You have given me… and have come to do Your Will.” In this prayer, compiled by the Hida to be said before circumcision, the father compares his son to the first fruit grown in the Holy Land, brought to the Bait HaMikdash. This analogy holds true not only in regard to the fact that both circumcision and the first fruit are ‘first commandments’ in regard to something, but also on a deeper level as well. As we have noted in p. Lech Lecha, the merit of circumcision is strongly connected to the ability to settle the Land of Israel. As is also apparent from the fore-mentioned prayer, circumcision is directly connected to ‘keeping the covenant’ and maintaining purity. The concept of purity is also greatly linked to the Land of Israel, as in the words of our Sages: “the Land of Israel is pure, and its mikvaot are (also) pure”. These words teach us that one, the Land of Israel is pure and free of rabbinical impurity ordained on the lands of the Diaspora, and two, that a randomly found mikva in the Land of Israel is rendered a kosher mikva (which is not the case in the Diaspora). Although the first rule about the Land in general is valid even today, the poskim note that the second rule about a mikva applies ‘only when Israel are present on their Land’. Therefore, in the Shulhan Aruch, written when a small portion of Israel dwelled in the Land, no stipulation is made, and all randomly found mikvaot are rendered invalid. With this, we shall leave the ruling upon the present situation when Israel has been returning to the Land to competent halachic authorities. As we explained in part in parshat Vayeshev about a year ago, purity means to connect to the true spiritual life, while impurity blocks one from channeling into holiness with the ‘message’ of death (the greatest impurity is a corpse, a leper is considered spiritually ‘dead’, birth from the pregnant mother’s perspective is a loss of life from within her, etc.) When we enter the mikva which surrounds us entirely, we so-to-speak enter the embryonic liquid of the womb to be reborn again, and begin a life of purity. In parshat Hahodesh we declare upon the beginning of all months, Nissan, which is also an opportunity to be reborn again. Similarly, when our People enter the Land of Purity which surrounds us entirely, our People are reborn, as ‘Zion gives birth to her sons’ (Isaiah 66, 8). This purity of the Land is especially potent in Hebron, as we are taught in ‘Shaar HaHatzer’ (by R. David Ben Shimon zt”l) that one who learns Torah in Hebron rectifies the covenant and achieves purity.
Real Stories from the Holy Land #63: “Once I was learning abut a topic in mikvaot that had been concerning me. At the same time, heard two separate people, unrelated entirely, learning the exact same mishna I was concerned with.”
Sources: Mikvaot 8, 1, Yoreh Deah 201, 74, Shaar HaHatzer 380