Toward the end of his life, the renowned Rabbi, the Chatam Sofer, became seriously ill, suffering from terrible pains in the area of his Brit. In a letter, he disclosed his apprehension that the suffering had come upon him because of some sin. Reviewing his life, he did a scrupulous self-accounting, hoping to discover the cause. But he could not recall ever having committed a sexual transgression. Finally, he understood the reason for his suffering. He was being punished, he writes, for not having taught enough about Shmirat HaBrit, for it was his custom to speak to his congregation about the matter just one time a year, on the eve of Yom Kippur.
From this story, we can learn the importance of teaching about Shmirat HaBrit, in order to help people rectifying sexual mistakes of the past.
Today, at a time when sexual immodesty is everywhere, on the streets, in the shopping malls, on TV, in the movies, in the newspapers, and on the Internet, each and every man is inundated with difficult trials each day. To combat this “Tsunami” of temptation, parents, educators, and rabbis must meet the challenge by arming their children, students, and congregations with the necessary defenses – the first and foremost of which is knowledge. People must be taught to recognize the gravity of the problem, and learn how to avoid falling into the traps that surround them. Through education, people who are trapped in darkness can be given the guidance that can lead them to light.
After our study of the Zohar, it should be clear that Shmirat HaBrit is the foundation for a healthy and holy life, for the individual and for the Jewish Nation. Once we understand that guarding the Brit in sexual purity is the key to bringing Divine blessing into the world, this recognition can inspire us with the motivation to set out on a course of teshuva and rectification.
While the supreme importance of Shmirat HaBrit is emphasized in the Zohar and other mystical texts, a general overview of Torah sources is necessary to complete the picture. To present the reader with a broader perspective of the subject, we will cite a small sample of these sources, including a look at the halacha, or Jewish Law.
Sometimes it happens that when a person is confronted with the magnitude of the transgression of spilling semen in vain, whether it involves masturbation, or some other forbidden sexual act, he is overwhelmed with the severity of his mistakes. For this reason, it is important to emphasize at the outset that teshuva is certainly possible, even for a long history of sexual wrongdoing.
The following chapters will set out practical guidelines for Tikkun HaBrit. The important thing to keep in mind is that G-d is an all-forgiving father, always happy to accept and forgive wayward children who long to come home. As our Sages promise, a person who sets out on a healthier, holier course is assured Divine assistance.
To be continued
(Secret of the Brit is reprinted with kind permission of JewishSexuality.com. Tzvi Fishman was awarded the Israel Ministry of Education Prize for Creativity and Jewish Culture. His books on Judaism and Jewish themes include: “Tuvia in the Promised Land,” “Days of Mashiach,” “The Kuzari For Young Readers,” and four books on the teachings of Rabbi Kook, “Torat Eretz Yisrael,” “War and Peace,” “The Art of T’shuva,” and “Lights on Orot,” co-written with Rabbi David Samson)