The Medrash in the beginning of the parsha comments that after Avraham Ovina circumcised himself he said that many gentiles will come to attach themselves to this sign of the covenant (between Avraham and his descendants and Hashem) and convert.
Zera Shimshon asks how can we understand Avraham’s reasoning? Before Hashem commanded Avraham to make milah, a person could convert painlessly, just keeping Hashem’s commandments. After Hashem gave the mitzvo of mila a person has to suffer the pain of circumcision to convert. Why then did Avraham feel that there would be more converts now?
Zera Shimshon answers that Avraham always felt uncomfortable about his sinful beginning. (According to Rebbi Yochannon Avraham only recognized his Creator at the age of 48!) He was afraid that Hashem didn’t look at him like a total tzaddik but rather slightly blemished. He felt that Hashem looked at him like a dirty garment that even after it gets dry cleaned, it doesn’t look completely new but small remnants of dirt always remain on it.
This changed, however after he circumcised himself.
In the parsha we see that Hashem sent three types of remedies to heal Avraham after his milah.
Firstly, “the heat of the day”. the Medrash explains the reason that Avraham sat near the entrance of his tent “in the heat of the day” is because heat helps to heal.
Secondly, Hashem sent the Malach Rephael to heal him.
And thirdly, Hashem payed Avraham a bikkur cholim visit. Chazal teach us that the mitzvo of bikur chollim helps a sick person recuperate.
Why did Avraham need all three remedies?
Zera Shimshon explains that the heat of the day was simply to heal the physical wound of the mila.
The Malach Rephael added to Avraham’s recovery. Avraham didn’t only get back his strength like he was right before he did the milah. Rather, he became to make him strong like when he was much younger. This was in order that he would be able to have more children.
Hashem’s visit was in order that Avraham wouldn’t only recover physically be he become completely clean from all of his sins!
It says in the Gemorro Nedarim (41a) Reb Alexandri said in the name of Reb Chiya bar Abba, “A sick person doesn’t recuperate until he has been forgiven for all of his sins….” Rav Hammuna said “He returns to his youth…” Rashi explains, “He returns to his youth: like a young child who never sinned.”
In other words, in the merit of milah, Avraham not only merited to become stronger than he was prior to the milah but he also merited to be completely and totally cleansed of any remnants of sin that tainted his soul.
After realizing the huge benefit of mila we can now understand why Avraham felt that the mitzvo of mila would cause more people to convert.
This d’var Torah is dedicated to Beracha Bas Menucha Shaina. In the merit of the learning Zera Shimshon’s divrai Torah, Hashem should answer her prayers and she should quickly find her proper match along with all the other members of Clal Yisroel who are also looking for their zivug hagun
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