When Yisro came to receive the Torah, the passuk says ויחד יתרו . Our Chazal (Sanhedrin 94 see Rashi here) expound on these words with two interpretations. One is that Yisro was happy. The other is that he took a knife  (חד  sharp) and performed Bris Milah on himself. The meaning of these two interpretations, complement each other as we shall soon explain.Many poskim are of the opinion that one does not recite theShehechiyanu beracah at a bris because the infant who is circumcised experiences pain. The Shemen Rosh asks but we find another Chazal (Avos 5,22) that says לפום צערא אגרא that according to the amount of pain, effort and discomfort one undergoes in performing a mitzvah, to that proportion is the reward. Don’t we find by Avraham Avinu that he made Eliezer swear on his bris milah that he will fulfill his mission to the best of his ability. Rashi (Bereishis 24,2) brings that the reason why the bris milah was used as the  object of a mitzvah of choice to swear on, was because it was Avraham’s first commandment, it came through pain, and it was beloved to him. Therefore, what is inappropriate to recite the Beracha Shehachiyanu upon the fulfillment of mitzvas Milah?

Let us examine another parsha, the encounter between Yosef and Binyamim, from where we will be able to glean the answer to our question. The passuk tells us (Bereishis 45,14) that Yosef fell on the neck of Binyamin and wept and likewise Binyamin fell on the neck of Yosef and cried. Rashi explains that each one wept on the destruction of Hashem’s dwelling place that resided by the other’s inherited portion in Eretz Yisrael. Yosef cried over the destruction of the Bais Hamikdash which was in Binyamin’s chelek, and Binyamin cried over the destruction of Mishkan Shiloh which was situated in Yosef’s chelek(Megillah 16b).

Isn’t it fascinating to take note that each one of the brothers wept over the other’s destruction and not over their own. Rav Yechekail from Kozmir explains that the gemara in Yuma 9b states that the Bais Hamikdash was destroyed because of sinas chinam, hatred of one’s fellow Yid for no reason. The tikkun for sinas chinam is ahavas chinam, love for no reason. This includes feeling pain over someone else’s loss even more than one’s own. Here especially we find Binyamin’s outstanding characteristic who wept over Yosef’s Mishkandestruction even though his Mikdash could not have been built as long as Yosef’s was in existence. Nevertheless, Binyamin cried bitterly over its loss. Binyamin reached a level of achdus with Yosef to the point that it would be better not to have his Mikdash at all if it is to be built upon the loss of his brother.

It is therefore interesting to note that the gematriah of יוסף and בנימין are equal to 318 which is one above the word יאוש, to despair and to give up hope. After the destruction of the Bais Hamikdash because of sinas chinan and its prolonged desolation over a period of two thousand years, one would have naturally given up hope for any future rebuilding. However, the crying of Binaymin and Yosef for the other’s churban has implanted in Klal Yisrael the power to have ahavas chinam causing us never to lose hope and yearning for the rebuilding of the Third Bais Hamikdash.

The same concept applies to Bris Milah. This mitzvah belongs to the father of the newborn and not to the eight day old infant. The father might be very happy to perform the mitzvah of milah on his son but nevertheless he is doing so by causing suffering to the recipient of that mitzvah. In such a circumstance one is prohibited to recite theShehechiyanu beracha at the expense of someone else’s pain. However, if one performs the mitzvah of milah on himself like Avraham, then it is very possible that he is permitted to recite theShehechiyanu beracha because his pleasure overrides the pain. Therefore, Yisro who performed the mitzvah of milah on himself and was very happy to do so, is acknowledged by the Torah of possessing a special maalah like Avraham Avinu, to undergo a mitzvah that is associated with pain and still remain in a state of happiness to do so.                                                                                                                     
This sensitivity is a madraiga that every Yid must strive for to internalize. I once read a story about a poor person who would travel and collect money from town to town in order to sustain his family. One time his donor mentioned to the poor man that the other day he was told that in his particular town that there was no one who sewed tachrichim (shrouds) for the Chevrah Kaddisha. They have to import them from a great distance. Why not take up this line of work as a business and then he would not have to travel so much and be away from your family. He looked his donor in the eyes and said, “Chas Veshalom I should make money off of someone else’s loss”.

There was once a tzaddik who when he saw two children playing on a seesaw for the very first time remarked that this cannot be aYiddishe play or entertainment. The reason is because the entire fun is based upon that when one side goes up, it is only because the other side goes down.

This insight sometimes can make parenting a little tricky. There is a term called vicarious fulfillment. This means that one receives pleasure or the experience, by watching, hearing about, or reading about someone else, rather than by doing something yourself. Let us take for example the case of Beryl who as a child wanted very badly to learn to play piano but his parents did not allow his creativity to actualize. Now that Beryl is a parent, he coerces his child to take piano lessons every Sunday and Friday for the sole reason that he can experience the pleasure of playing piano vicariously through his child. However, his child is totally disinterested and throws a tantrum every time the piano teacher arrives at the house. The child does not want to take upon himself any extra work and practice during the week as he is already overburdened with homework. Not only this alone, but the lessons also disrupt his social life with his peers and he looks like anebech in their eyes.

The anatomy of this situation is that the parent is deriving pleasure at the expense of his child’s pain. Had the father’s intention been that his child is so musically talented and he enjoys the lessons and practice, then that would have been one thing. In our scenario the child is treated merely as the father’s object of selfish gratification and pleasure thereby deeming this as inappropriate behavior.

Another example would be a mother who takes upon herself to bakechallah on Fri. and fulfill the mitzvah of taking Challah. Having a large family, the ritual of baking challah which is a five hour ordeal on Erev Shabbos takes a huge toll on Shalom Bayis. The atmosphere of the entire household is tense and in panic mode because of her insistence to bake the challas amidst the other continuous havoc of baths for the kids, cleaning the house, keeping peace amongst fights, and crying babies etc. Binyamin has taught us that it would be better that one’s building of the holy Mikdash should be avoided if its existence causes anguish to another Yid. I am pretty sure that Hashem would prefer store bought challas in order to ensure the serenity of Shalom Bayis,Oneg Shabbos, and the children of the household retaining a positive look towards the coming of the Shabbos into their home.

After a fierce battle against the enemy during the Yom Kippur War, the casualties were brought to the morgue and two bodies had to be identified.  One of the deceased IDF soldiers was to be identified by whom they thought was his brother. As the brother stood there in front of the table with a sheet covering the body, he began to daven and sway back and forth. The other staff present couldn’t figure out what he was davening for. Maybe because of the traumatic situation he was just losing it for there did not seem any place for tefillah at this point. After five minutes he removed the sheet revealing the body and it unfortunately it was his brother. Later on he was asked what all that davening was for. He answered, that he was afraid that if he removed the sheet and discovered that it was not his brother, he would immediately be overcome by immense joy. But how can any Yid rejoice at the expense of another Yid’s death or loss. It was during that time that I davened to Hashem that he should please grant me the wisdom and controlled emotion that if this was the case that I should not react with any joy but rather to be filled  with pain and anguish over the tragic death of my other brother, my fellow Yid.

Gut Shabbos,