It so happens that Raizy’s family will be celebrating a Bris and a wedding on the same day this coming week. Thank G-d for Simchas and Mazal Tovs, wishing for many more! As we were sitting around discussing the logistics, Rivka (age 3) pipes up and says, “I know what a Bris is. You put a baby on a pillow and you stand next to it.”
Well, that simplistic definition gave us a laugh. She’s missing the whole point! Obviously, there’s much more to a Bris (circumcision) that standing around a baby lying down on a pillow. But the Talmud says that little children have some degree of prophecy, so maybe she’s onto something.
A Bris is Hebrew for circumcision, but in Hebrew it means covenant or bond, a deep unbreakable connection. That level of connection requires tremendous commitment and sacrifice, personal dedication of the highest order.
But at some level, it’s not only about sacrifice and utmost dedication, as Rivka seems to be saying, it can be simply (1) standing, and (2) next to it. Those are two of the most important ingredients of Jewish life on campus (and you could say Jewish life in general, too). While they might not always be the easiest, it’s doesn’t have to be a tremendous sacrifice either. Usually they are fairly easy, if you just allow yourself.
STANDING means to stand up. Get off the couch, get out of bed, leave your comfort zone. Getup and stand up for something – in this case your Jewish heritage, community, a Mitzvah.
NEXT TO IT means get closer to it. Don’t view it from a distance or from the remove of a digital screen. Be present at a Shabbos table, take part in a Torah discussion, celebrate together with fellow Jews in some meaningful way. Get your hands sticky from making Challah, let a Jewish song ring in your ears… get closer, stand next to it.
And that’s (perhaps) little Rivka’s message. You may think that a Bris covenant/connection requires great sacrifice and pain, and utmost dedication. That’s true on some level, but there’s also another side to it. Rivka says that a Bris can be if you stand and are next to it, that’s already something very significant – you are strengthening your connection..