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Parshas Bereishis - Vol.
7, Issue 1
Compiled by Oizer Alport
Vayomer Elokim yishretzu hamayim sheretz nefesh chaya v’of y’ofeif al ha’aretz al p’nei rakia HaShomayim (1:20)
Throughout the generations, philosophers have debated the age-old question of which came first: the chicken or the egg? What does the Torah, which is the blueprint for the Creation and contains the answer to every question, have to say about this hotly-contested issue?
On the fifth day of Creation, Hashem said, “Let the waters abound with swarming living creatures, and fowl that fly about over the earth across the expanse of the Heavens.” On the phrase meaning “living,” Rashi comments, “that it will be alive” – in the future tense. In the following verse (1:21), which relates the actual creation of the marine and bird life, the same expression which means “living” appears, but this time, Rashi comments, “that it is alive” – in the present tense.
On the sixth day of Creation, Hashem declared, “Let the Earth bring forth living creatures, each according to its kind: animals, creeping things, and beasts of the land.” Once again, this verse contains the identical phrase which means “living,” and Rashi comments, “that it is alive” – in the present tense. It is very uncharacteristic for Rashi to comment on the same phrase three times in a span of five verses. Further, it is not coincidental that Rashi switched the verb tenses between the verses. Why did he feel the need for these multiple comments, and what does this teach us?
Rav Yehoshua Leib Diskin explains that regarding Hashem’s command on the fifth day to create marine and bird life, His intention was for the waters to produce fish eggs that would yield fish, and bird eggs which would hatch and create birds. For this reason, Rashi stresses that they will be alive after they hatch. In the following verse, the Torah records that marine and bird life were actually created. In other words, the eggs hatched and produced the desired fish and bird species; for this reason, Rashi writes that they were alive, since this verse discusses their post-hatching state. On the sixth day, the Torah records the creation of land animals which aren’t hatched from eggs. They were initially created in their living states, and for this reason, Rashi refers to them as already being alive.
The mystics teach that there is nothing which is not alluded to in the Torah. Although Rav Yehoshua Leib was coming to address a textual difficulty in Rashi’s commentary, his answer enables us to decisively resolve the philosophical dilemma by concluding that the egg was indeed created before the chicken.
Vayomer ha’adam haisha asher nasata imadi hee nasna li min haeitz v’ochel (3:12)
After Adam and Chava ate from the forbidden fruit, they heard the sound of Hashem approaching, and they attempted to hide from Him. Hashem called out to Adam, who responded that he was afraid because he was naked. Hashem challenged how Adam knew that he was naked, questioning whether he had eaten from the forbidden fruit. Adam responded, “The woman whom You gave to be with me gave me from the tree, and I ate.”
Commenting on this defense, Rashi cryptically writes that in giving this explanation, Adam was denying the good that Hashem had given him through Chava. This is difficult to understand. Although it may have been inappropriate for Adam to “pass the buck” and blame Chava instead of accepting responsibility for his own actions, in what way was this considered a lack of appreciation on his part? Wasn’t Adam just telling the truth?
Rav Aryeh Finkel explains that this question is rooted in a fundamental error. He compares it to a case of a newlywed couple who are opening their wedding gifts. Upon opening the envelope from a distant uncle, they are flabbergasted to see that the card contains a check for one million dollars. After calming themselves down, the wife points out that the uncle didn’t even bother to write a note or sign the card. The husband responds in shock that his wife could even notice such a flaw. At a time like this, when they have just received such a valuable and totally unexpected gift, how could somebody notice such a relatively minor oversight? They should be so overcome with excitement at their good fortune that there is no place to focus on or even think about such trivialities.
Similarly, Hashem had just given Adam the most precious gift possible: Chava, a wife and helpmate. The Gemora in Yevamos (63a) teaches that Adam, desperate for a mate, sought a wife with every species that was created, but he wasn’t satisfied until Hashem created Chava. A loving and supportive wife should have been worth so much to him that, like the husband in the story, his intense joy over his discovery precluded him from finding any fault in her. The fact that he was able to blame her for the sin of the forbidden fruit was rooted in his lack of appreciation of her true value. For this reason, Rashi writes that in ascribing a deficiency to Chava, Adam was revealing his lack of gratitude to Hashem for the priceless gift that He had given him.
Vaya'as Hashem Elokim l'Adam ul'ishto kasnos ohr vayalbisheim (3:21)
Although Adam and Chava were originally created naked, they were on such a sublime spiritual level that they were removed from all physicality and weren’t embarrassed by their state (2:25). After eating from the forbidden fruit of the tree of knowledge, their eyes were opened, and they realized that they were naked (3:7). After Hashem meted out their punishments and curses for eating from the forbidden fruit, He made garments of leather for Adam and Chava to wear. Why did He specifically make them out of leather?
The Rogatchover Gaon answers that the Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim 223:3) rules that a person who buys or acquires a valuable new garment must say the ùäçééðå blessing thanking Hashem for his precious new possession. As such, Adam and Chava would be obligated to recite this blessing upon receiving from Hashem the new garments that He made for them.
However, the law is that this blessing must be recited immediately upon acquiring the new item, while the joy that it brings to its receiver is still fresh and at its maximum. As such, Hashem had a dilemma, as at the moment that He gave Adam and Chava their new garments, they would be required to make a blessing, yet they were naked and a naked person is forbidden to say blessings. However, the prevalent custom (Orach Chaim 223:6) is not to say this blessing on garments made from animals. Therefore, Hashem specifically made the clothing out of leather so that the naked Adam and Chava would be exempt from reciting a blessing that they would be unable to make.
Answers to the weekly Points to Ponder are now available!
Parsha Points to Ponder (and sources which discuss them):
1) Rashi explains (1:1) that the Torah begins with the story of Creation so that if the non-Jews accuse us of stealing the land of Israel from them, we will be able to answer that Hashem created the entire world and is entitled to give any portion of it to whomever He chooses. What is the purpose in doing so, as no non-Jew will ever accept such an argument to our right to the land of Israel, as we’ve sadly witnessed in the past 60 years? (Peninei Daas)
2) In recording the events of Creation, why doesn’t the Torah make any mention of the creation of the Heavenly angels? (Chizkuni 1:27)
3) Hashem created woman because He realized that it isn’t good for man to be alone (2:18), which implies that if not for this reason He wouldn’t have done so. Wouldn’t it have been necessary to create woman in order for Adam to reproduce and populate the world? (Ramban, Nesivos Rabboseinu)
4) In which marriage in the Torah was the gap between the husband's and wife's ages the largest?
5) In relating the lifespan of Adam, the Torah writes (5:5) that the days that he lived were 930 years. What is the significance of emphasizing “that he lived,” an expression which seems redundant and which isn’t used in recording the lifespans of his descendants, with the exception of Avrohom (25:7)? (Ohr HaChaim HaKadosh, HaK’sav V’HaKabbala 25:7, Beis Yitzchok, Maharil Diskin)
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