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Rabbi's Blog

rabbi 05 smallsf badge lgRabbi Joel Landau  ( has been the Rabbi of Adath Israel since May 2013. He was ordained by the Chief Rabbinate in Jerusalem and has served previously as a congregational Rabbi in Charleston, South Carolina and Irvine, California. A full biography of Rabbi Landau is available here.


B”H, my trip to Baltimore for my grandson’s Bris went well. They named him Akiva after the famous Rabbi from the Mishnaic period. Between myself and my siblings (we’re four boys) my parents are blessed with around 100 descendants, but this is the first one named Akiva. 

The short d’var Torah I gave at the Bris is very relevant to all of us. Therefore, I’m going to share it with all of you for this week’s blog. 

During a bris we bless the newborn two times with the following bracha: “In the same way he has entered the Bris, so should he enter Torah, Chuppah, and good deeds.”

What is meant by the words “In the same way…”?  What is it about a Bris that should also express itself regarding Torah, marriage and good deeds?

The answer is that they each require self-sacrifice to attain something greater. When it comes to Torah, one must sacrifice their sense of ‘how things should be’ in deference to the Divine superiority of the words of the Torah. In addition, true Torah scholarship only results when a person dedicates themselves 110% to its study. To do this inevitably involves self-sacrifice.

Similarly in marriage, each of the partners must give up various aspects of their lives to accommodate their spouse. Only through mutual self-sacrifice can a marriage be successful and create a healthy, lasting relationship. 

Finally, good deeds – true chesed – are only achieved through compassion and the willingness to give of oneself for another human being. 

All the above are learned from Bris Milah, in which a baby is literally giving up a piece of himself in order to have a spiritual relationship with G-d. At the time, the baby doesn’t understand this. However, as he grows up, he needs to be taught that a Bris Milah represents what it takes to have an everlasting bond with G-d, as well as success in Torah, Chuppah and good deeds.