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Why Is Elijah Invited To The Brit Milah?

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Chapter Summary

According to Harold Fisch, Elijah embodies the 'wanderer archetype', "who does marvellous deeds - to annul evil decrees, to save individuals in distress, to heal the sick, succour the poor, and in general perform useful social services". This chapter traces the sources of his transformation and conjecture how the midrash reconciles his image as zealous prophet, in the Bible, with his redemptive role in rabbinic lore. The author introduces the story of Elijah's role as guardian of the covenant in the context of Abraham's eighth trial - the patriarch's circumcision at the ripe old age of ninety nine, which becomes the springboard for several homiletical passages on the significance of circumcision in Pirqe de-Rabbi Eliezer (PRE) 29. Wiener, in his examination of Elijah's association with brit milah, presents an anthropological perspective.

Keywords: brit milah; Elijah; Pirqe de-Rabbi Eliezer (PRE)



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