Shabbat Parshat Lech Lecha - 5759
In this week's Parshah, we find two examples of a "brit," or covenant, made between G-d and our forefather, Avram, before his name was changed to "Avraham." They are the "brit bein habetarim," the mysterious covenant between the (animal) parts, by which the Jewish People were promised the Land of Israel forever, and the covenant of circumcision, the "brit milah," by which Avram and his future descendants were obligated to perform the act of circumcision in their flesh for all time.
In the Sefer "Binah BaMikra," by Rav Yissachar Yaakovson, Rav Yosef Albo's
discussion in "Sefer HaIkarim" of the "brit bein habetarim" is cited,
particularly with respect to an understanding of why each of the various animals used was
cut in two. Rav Yosef Albo explains there that the two parties to any "brit"
should look upon their new relationship as if they were now one and the same organism, as
the animals used by Avram had been while they were alive, the new relationship having been
created by the passage of the "tanur ashan v'lapid esh," the "smoking
furnace and burning torch," among the pieces.
There is a Midrash which says that Adam and Chava were originally created back-to-back, so that when Hashem created Chava, he cut Adam/Chava in half, as were divided the animals used in the "brit bein habetarim." The moral lesson of this Midrash may be to teach us the nature of the "brit nissuin," as indeed the Midrash does speak of the Holy One, blessed be He, acting as the "mesader kiddushin," the "Conductor," or "Arranger," of the wedding ceremony between the "chatan" and the "kallah," the "bridegroom" and the "bride," Adam and Chava.
Thus, two individuals, with different (but hopefully compatible) personalities make a momentous joint decision. They decide to put back together, to restore, so to speak, but also to re-orient the relationship which was "broken," so that they could each develop their separate and unique personalities.
But now they will together build a "bayit ne'eman," a "household faithful" to the Ribbono shel Olam, the Master of the Universe, with two still unique but now inter-dependent "neshamot," "souls," united in a relationship of "dveikut," of "close attachment" one to the other, spiritually, psychologically and physically. Thereby creating a relationship which flourishes in an atmosphere of "ahavah, achavah, shalom and reyut," "love (between husband and wife), brotherly love, and peace, where each is the other's best friend and staunchest ally."
Rabbi Pinchas Frankel
Rabbi Frankel is an Educational Coordinator at the OU