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Acquiring Torah 46: Ramchal: Derech Eitz Hachaim XII

In the beginning, although the foreskin of the body is removed after eight days, the inward foreskin, the foreskin of the heart, is removed only after 13 years and a day. Throughout that period, therefore, the child is exempt from the Commandments; but he should nevertheless be disciplined as I have said, for this causes the foreskin to be thoroughly separated from him so that it may leave him altogether at the appointed time.


That is why Scripture speaks of keeping it far from him and not of removing it from him, since it cannot be removed but should leave when the time comes.

There is a resemblance to Chibut haKever, the Beating in the Grave: the beating is due to the close link with the with the Serpent’s ills, which beating alone can remove. The righteous who remedied themselves properly, keep it away from themselves so effectively that there is no need for beating. The boy, since folly is bound up with him, likewise requires beating in order to keep them away from this link and association, for then when the time comes for it to depart, it will depart once and for all. If he walks along a good path, he keeps it away by himself.

Now, at this time, the time for keeping the foreskin away, the utterance proceeding from his mouth can subdue the Other Side and crush it violently so that the power of the Torah which he received before he was born, returns and develops. Once he has fully received that power, he can act, and he is therefore responsible for fulfilling the commandments. (Ramchal; Derech Eitz Hachaim XII)

“Beating,” is to teach the child how to overcome his impulses by force of will. The Ramchal compares this to the discipline of Chubut haKever, which is the potentially painful process of reconnecting to our strengths and potentials.

Once we have acquired through Torah a sense of our Gevurah, we can overcome the Evil Inclination, and achieve our purpose.

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