Yitzchack vs Yishmael by Rabbi Yosef Katzman

Abraham’s children Yitzchack and Yishmael were rivaling siblings.

Yishmael said; I’m the better one, I was 13 years old when I was circumcised, and I agreed to follow G-d’s command without protest, unlike you who were only an 8 days old baby when you were circumcised without asking your consent.

I am G-d’s faithful servant.

Yitzchack said; I was circumcised at 8 days old, as I was born, I was always circumcised ever since I was born, unlike you who lived for 13 years before being circumcised.

I lived the holy life my entire life.

Interesting brotherly discussion.

Yishmael’s point is that he is so proud to be circumcised, because circumcision is a Bris, a covenant with G-d, and as an adult I understood the value of a Bris, and I agreed to do it without protest.

Yitzchack’s point is that since a Bris is covenant with G-d, I value having this covenant with G-d from the day I was born, I knows that G-d is the creator and I am delighted to be connected to G-d from the earliest time possible, not because I made a conscious decision, but because the supreme being wants to be connected to me.

Both have a strong point, Yishmael values that he chose to do the right thing, and Yitzchack values that G-d made the decision for him.

Which one is greater?

When a person makes a decision with his own mind, as virtuous as it may be, yet it is limited to the person’s level of understanding, and being that humans are mortals; they can only reach a limited level of understanding.

However when a person does what G-d wants, he is fulfilling G-d’s Superior Will, and G-d is infinite and His will is infinite, so even if we can’t fully comprehend the depth of the act because we are finite, in the end we are connecting with the infinite.

This is a Bris, a covenant.

A covenant is made between two friends who want to remain loyal to each other, even if something may go wrong, and judging by logic the friendship shouldn’t hold anymore.

The covenant is treaty between friends that no matter what, we stay friends forever.

This is the purpose of the Bris, G-d says I want to make a covenant with the Jewish people, we will remain loyal to each other no matter what, it is not dependent on your logic or on your behavior, this is a covenant of loyalty that will last till infinity.

This was Yitzchack’s point, I had my Bris with G-d since I was born, independent of my limited capacity of understanding or behavior, however, you Yishmael, you did the Bris based on your limited capacity to comprehend, and your circumcision has a very limited reach.

And G-d commanded Yitzchack and his children, the Jewish people forever, to make the Bris at 8 days old, because the Bris is an infinite covenant between the infinite G-d with His children, something which is way beyond logic and human reach.

G-d wants our connection on His infinite terms, not on our limited terms.

So next time you go to Bris, celebrate an unbreakable covenant with G-d Himself.

G-d loves you and wants your connection,
Gut Shabbos
Yosef Katzman

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