In Kabbalistic thought there are ten ways that the Almighty’s energy interacts with the world, and correspondingly there are ten soul capabilities that a person uses to connect his soul to the greater universe. The first eight soul capabilities represent a specific character; kindness, judgment, mercy and the like. However, the last two do not represent any specific trait, rather they are the actualization of the first eight.
Yesod is the soul-power that relates to the Bris and it role is to connect the individual to others around him, giving true meaning to all of his character by reaching beyond himself and sharing his inner soul goodness. Accordingly, the Orla (foreskin) prevents a person from allowing his soul to influence his surroundings, keeping whatever energy there is locked up inside of him, preventing him from making the world around him the Almighty’s abode. This defeats the purpose of his existence. Why is it like this, why can’t we have the Orla and nevertheless influence the world around us?
Maimonides explains that the foreskin is the part of the person that inspires lust for lust’s sake, and that removing it allows person to refine himself, since he is not stooped in coarse lust and desire. While pleasure is not a problem, if it becomes the focus it coarsens us and more problematically makes us selfish.
Applying this to the context of a relationship, if the focus centers around what I can gain from the relationship, while seemingly harmless is actually poisonous. When we are looking only to benefit then the other person is not truly a partner, rather the means that I use in order to attain my goals, whether it is pleasure, security, love; anything. The purity of our connection is lost.
This is the spiritual effect of the foreskin on our lives. While we might have removed the physical foreskin, removing the spiritual effects require a lifetime of effort to reach beyond ourselves. Once we have genuinely become selfless can we begin to truly change our surroundings and ultimately the nature of the world itself one step at a time.
Utilizing the quality of Yesod, we connect on the deepest possible soul level and we express the true goodness of the soul that reaches beyond any specific trait. Every other of the soul-powers we have is used to transmit a specific quality, but our inner goodness has already taken on a specific form, be it kindness, judgment or mercy. Yesod gives something deeper; our essence, since it is our essence that wants to bestow goodness that supersedes any character trait, it has the ability go beyond the parameters of our world and change it from the inside out.
In other words, our innate desire to connect comes from a deeper part within us than anything we are actually going to bestow. On the eighth day of an infant’s life we give him a Bris, inundating him with the selflessness and humility that will allow him to be a member of our world, actualizing this lesson takes a lifetime, allowing him to be truly selfless.
Rabbi Yehoshua Levin, Certified Mohel