There are two covenants in this week’s portion. The first is the mysterious b’rit bein habetarim, the covenant between the parts, or the covenant of the pieces. In Genesis 15:9-10, G-d instructs Avram, "'Bring Me a three-year-old heifer, a three-year-old she-goat, a three-year-old ram, a turtledove, and a young bird.' He brought Him all these and cut them in two, placing each half opposite the other…" Then, in a dream, Avram sees a fiery furnace with a torch pass between the pieces and thus seal the promise of the land. In the second covenant, the b’rit milah, circumcision seals G-d’s promise that Avram—now to be called Abraham—will be “the father of a multitude of nations” (17:4).
G-d is the great separator—stars
birthed from murky columns of gas,
continents from seas, man
and woman from the same bone,
cells dividing and dividing
yet intact like Zeno’s paradox
of pieces infinitely fractioning,
ever whole. We are the stars
He promised in the powerful dark,
and we are the pieces, our bodies
spared from fire and flood
only to be cut or cast,
as prophesied, into the Nile.
This is the nature of the covenant:
Only the Lord our G-d, the Lord is One.