top of page

We all have foreskin

One well-known covenant of the Jewish people is brit milah, the covenant of foreskin removal on the 8th day. Also known as a Bris. I have two boys myself and have officiated at dozens upon dozens of circumcisions. They are intense and tribal. There is a literal cutting of the foreskin as a sign of a relationship between the Jewish people and the Divine. Ancient in its practice, it is a ritual of ancient tribal body marking. The meaning is deep, visceral, and generational. But did you know there are three other body parts that can be circumcised in our transition? Circumcision was never just for the phallus it turns out.

Rabbi Ẓe'era || said: There are five kinds of 'Orlah (things uncircumcised) in the world: four with reference to man, and one concerning trees. Whence do we know this concerning the four (terms) applying to man?

(Namely,) the uncircumcision of the ear, the uncircumcision of the lips,

the uncircumcision of the heart,

and the uncircumcision of the flesh.

Whence do we know of the uncircumcision of the ear?

Because it is said, "Behold, their ear is uncircumcised" (Jer. 6:10).

Whence do we know of the uncircumcision of the lips?

Because it is said, "For I am of uncircumcised lips" (Ex. 6:12).

Whence do we know of the uncircumcision of the heart? Because it is said, "Circumcise the foreskin of your heart" (Deut. 10:16); and (the text) says, "For all the nations are uncircumcised, and all the house of Israel are uncircumcised in heart" (Jer. 9:26).

Whence do we know of the uncircumcision of the flesh? Because it is said, "And the uncircumcised male who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin" (Gen. 17:14).

We all have a foreskin. The foreskin of the ears, heart, and lips. In our Torah portion this week, VeEra Moses protests when receiving a Divine calling at the burning bush. He could not possibly.

be the one, the person, the redeemer because “my lips, they are uncircumcised/ עֲרַ֥ל שְׂפָתָֽיִם.” How is it that our lips have a foreskin? How is it that his mouth was uncircumcised?

Lips, ears, hearts. None of these have a literal foreskin like the phallus. But all are powerful human tools in this world. Tools for Divine action and unfolding revelation.

Uncircumcised. To have uncircumcised ears, lips, and hearts? Not circumcised = being encumbered by obstruction. To circumcise something is to consider all that is around, surrounding, or encircling us that is blocking us from living in Divine service, keeping us in narrow spaces, and preventing us from reaching for greater connectedness.

Our uncircumcised ears blocked ears. Unable to hear, listen. Unable to calm the mind of the “me” in order to be truly present to the Divine in front of us, the discourse of all creation and especially the thoughts, feelings, needs, wants and dreams of the people closest to us in our lives.

Our hearts are uncircumcised when they are layered with mistrust, fear, and cynicism…like Pharoah. His heart.

And our lips. Like Moses, we are challenged with how to use our voices. Mosses are known as the most humble of all Jewish leaders. But he did not start out that way. His uncircumcised lips are a symbol of his unwillingness to get over himself. He could not heed the Divine call because he was too caught up in the ways he saw himself as limited. The possibility and expansiveness of what was ahead of him did not excite him. It made him feel small. God was not about to allow that to happen. Moses was called but then pushed to go before a Pharoah. At that moment his people needed him and the humble thing to do was to take that mantle of leadership and use his voice. Even if it was shaking. Then his lips were circumcised. He got rid of what was blocking him and walked with the Divine and with the Jewish people, they walked right out of Egypt and towards Promised Land.

We all have a foreskin. We all can use it to pare down, contract, create space, and reform our ideas. This is part of the covenant: to work on ourselves throughout our lives so that we are walking a holy path in life. Like pruning for a new season of growth, lips, ears, or heart, we each have our work to do for the health and vitality of our own lives.

69 views0 comments


bottom of page