I wrote an article for this book about Bris Milah, on the subject of 8 reasons for our having gratitude for this Mitzvah. This is the fourth part of this series of sharing this article here.
A fourth reason to be grateful for circumcision is where Bris lies in the totem pole in comparison to the Torah itself. In order to fulfill our Birkas Hamazon obligation, we need to mention “Bris and Torah” in the bracha over the land (Brachos 49a). Rashi (Brachos 48b, see also Or Zarua I:199 (Laws of Meals), Levush OC 187:2) says that Bris Milah is mentioned specifically in that blessing because it was through that Covenant that Avraham was promised the land (see also Mishnah Brurah 187:7).
There are at least three explanations given for why bris is mentioned first: A. 13 covenants were made at the Bris Milah (see Nedarim 31b), while there were only 3 covenants made at the giving of the Torah (Brachos 48b, see also Rashi there). B. the Bris predated the giving of the Torah by several hundred years. (Levush) C. As noted in a number of Midrashim (see Midrash Aggada Bereshis 47:29, Rabati Lekh Lekha p. 75 17:19), Bris (spelled out in Hebrew) has a numerical value of 612 + the act itself equals 613, equating it with all of the Torah, which has 613 commandments.
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