Rav Yedidya Noiman
Former Rosh Kollel in Montreal (2016 – 2019)
Currently teaching in Yeshivat Avinoam in Tapuach

When performing a Brit Milah, the father recites two blessings: ‘Al HaMilah’ and ‘Lehachniso BiVrito Shel Avraham Avinu’. The first one focuses on the actual Mitzvah and serves as the usual blessing we recite before any Mitzvah we are about to perform. The second one is much more unique since it is very rare to find a Mitzvah with more than one Brachah.

This fact raised a wide debate amongst the Rishomim in the first chapter of Masechet Psachim about how to understand this Brachah in general and more specifically – when to recite it. Based on the Rosh, The main Minhag is to say Lehachniso in the middle of the procedure, immediately after Al Hamila. Some Sepharadic communities, based on the Rashbam’s opinion, have the custom to say this Brachah at the very beginning of the Brit just before the proud father hands his son to the Mohel.

But the uniqueness of Lehachniso seems to be not only Halachic. This is the only bracha in which we attach a Biblical Mitzvah to a specific figure from our history. Calling this Brit Milah ‘The Brit of Avraham’ is something we’ve never found before and this suggests a strong link between Avraham Avinu to this special Mitzvah.

When talking about this Mitzvah, the Maharal of Prague (Tiferet Yisrael Ch. 2) points to the deep idea laying in the concept of Mitzvot in General. The entire idea of us being asked to perform actions as part of our religious obligations seems to be awkward. why should Hashem ‘need’ us to do so, isn’t his world perfect without us?
In fact, this is exactly what Tronusufus asked Rabbi Akiva in the Midrash Tanchuma arguing that by performing the Brit Mila the Jews are claiming that Hashem’s world isn’t good enough. In response, Rabbi Akiva brought a seed of wheat and a loaf of bread demonstrating through them the importance of human involvement in the constant development of the world. Teaching us that the Mitzvot provide us the way to make the world more spiritual. We can argue that the Mitzvah of Mila symbolizes this concept specifically since it happens immediately after birth and by that highlighting this concept as a cornerstone in our Jewish identity.

It seems that there is no more appropriate figure to be related to the mitzvah of Brit Mila than Avraham Avinu. Avraham Avinu was the first one to teach Hashem’s name in the world. As a true revolutionary, he walked on his own path, paving a new road in society. The Mitzvah of Mila is all about improving the world and pushing it to the next step and this fits Avraham Avinu perfectly.
We can move one step further and say that the action of the Brit is also very similar to the spiritual effort Avraham performed. In the Brit we cut off a part of skin (the Orla) and reveal the skin lying underneath. Avraham Avinu did the same action in the world of ideas – revealing the fact that under all the material and the laws of nature lays Hashem, managing and leading the world.

Avraham Avinu is the one that through his actions cut the curtain between us and Hahsem, teaching the entire world to look at things in a very different way. And it seems that we call the Brit in his name to remind us of the strong link between this action to the concept of faith taught by Avraham.