Thoughts on the Weekly Parshah by HaRav Eliezer Chrysler
Formerly Rav of Mercaz Ahavat Torah, Johannesburg

For sponsorships and advertising opportunities, send e-mail to:

Back to This Week's Parsha Previous Issues

subscribe.gif (2332 bytes)

Vol. 11   No. 1

This issue is sponsored anonymously

Parshas Bereishis

K'lal Yisrael and Eretz Yisrael

Rashi opens his commmentary on the Chumash with Rebbi Yitzchak, who, comments on why the Torah begins with the creation (rather than with the Mitzvah of Rosh Chodesh, the first Mitzvah that Yisrael was commanded). It is he says, in order to stress that if G-d created the world, He is entitled to give it to whom He wants, and that when we conquered Eretz Yisrael from the Cana'anim, we did so by His grace, and they are not therefore, entitled to accuse us of having stolen the land from the Cana'anim.


This Rashi is striking in two ways. Taken independently, it is striking in that Rashi chooses to comment on Yisrael's Divine right to Eretz Yisrael, turning it into a major aspect of the creation. Had Rashi not treated it as a major issue, it is doubtful that we would have attached much importance to it, certainly at this early stage in the world's history (when Yisrael did not even exist). And collectively, it is striking, inasmuch as the opening Rashi in each of the five Books of the Chumash (I heard recently) deals with a specific aspect of Yisrael's honour and dignity.

To begin with the second point - Rashi's opening comment in Bereishis concerns Yisrael's right to Eretz Yisrael; at the beginning of both Sh'mos and Vayikra, he refers to Hashem's love of Yisrael, in that he counts them often, like he does the stars. In Vayikra, Rashi discusses the advantage of Jewish prophets over non-Jewish ones, whilst in Devarim, he describes how, out of respect for K'lal Yisrael, Moshe was careful to avoid rebuking them directly.

It is certainly no coincidence that Rashi chose, at the beginning of each Seifer, to portray Yisrael in a favourable light. It can be seen perhaps, as a demonstration of Rashi's Ahavas Yisrael, as well as lending support to the Chazal that Rashi will quote shortly, that the world was created for the sake of Yisrael.


The first point that we raised is particularly revelant in light of the situation today, where the nations of the world, having already stripped us of the major part of our country (after initially granting us the rights to the territory in its entirety) now insist on giving away additional areas to our enemies. That they are giving it to a fictitious people who have not the least historical claim to nationhood, let alone to our country, and whose very existence endangers the stability and the peace of the entire area, is in itself, unintelligible, undignified and unpardonable. But that they brazenly deny our historical and Biblical rights to the whole of Eretz Yisrael, when it is the only country in the world whose boundaries are clearly mapped out in the Chumash (the Old Testament, which western civilization by and large, accepts), can only be understood in terms of extreme antisemitism (in terms of hatred of Jews).


It is interesting that, according to Rashi, the Torah, Yisrael and Eretz Yisrael as our inheritance, all figure prominently in the creation. We have often cited Rashi on the Pasuk "ve'Samtem es devorai eileh", who explains that the Mitzvos are really meant to be observed in Eretz Yisrael. In that light, we might apply Rebbi Yitzchak's D'rashah to this concept, and even more so, according to the Ramban, who considers living in Eretz Yisrael a Mitzvah, as we discussed in Parshas Matos/Masei. From Rebbi Yitzchak's wording however, it is clear that the basic message is intended, not for our ears, but for the ears of the gentile nations.


The K'li Yakar (whose explanation we cited in volume 9), queries the significance of Rebbi Yitzchak's answer. Who cares, he asks, what the nations of the world will say. If the nations want to call us thieves, let them! That alone is surely not a reason to change the natural order of the Torah? What's more, one might add, his question conforms with the principle 'The ways of G-d are straight; the Tzadikim go on them, whereas the Resha'im stumble on them', from which we learn that the Torah writes the truth (in spite of any negative implications), and those who misconstrue its lessons, have only themselves to blame.

Nobody of course, could have foreseen the intensity of the struggle for Eretz Yisrael, more now than ever before. The leading nations of the world believe in the Divine character of the Chumash, as we stated earlier. And in any event, the Torah was written in seventy languages, precisely to enable them to copy it and learn it, as the Gemara explains in Sotah. If they did not do so, they too, have only themselves to blame. Any knowledge they are expected to glean from (including Rebbi Yitzchak's lesson) but do not, will be held against them. Ignorance will not be deemed an excuse.

Consequently, if the nations deny the children of G-d their historical and biblical rights, and moroever, they deliver them into the hands of their cruel and vicious enemy, they will eventually be treated as accessories. They will be made to pay dearly for their crimes against us.


Parshah Pearls (Adapted from the Rosh)

For the Sake of the Torah

Rashi explains that Hashem created the world for the sake of the Torah, which is called 'Reishis Darko'.

He also created it for the sake of Shabbos and B'ris Milah, says the Rosh. And the source for this is the fact that the word "Bereishis" contains 'Shabbos', 'B'ris' and 'Eish', and Eish is another name for Torah, as we learned in ve'Zos ha'Berachah ("mi'yemno eish-dos lomo").

Incidentally, "Bereishis" also contains the word 'yir'as', writes the Rosh, in keeping with the Pasuk in Tehilim "Reishis chochmah yir'as Hashem", from which we learn that Yir'as Hashem is a prelude to wisdom.


es ha'Shamayim ...

The Torah writes "es ha'Shamayim ..." says Rashi, to teach us that when G-d created the heaven and earth, He also created all accessories that filled them, though He only placed them in their respective locations on the day that they are mentioned.

The Rosh however, explains that the Torah needs to write "es" ... "es", because otherwise, we would not have known which is the subject and which, the object; whether it is G-d who created Heaven and earth, or Heaven and earth which (kevayochol) created G-d.


Not So Good

The Torah does not write "ki tov" on the second day of the creation, explains the Rosh, because it was on that day that the 'sky divided between (the upper) water and (the lower) water', and wherever there is division or being alone it is not good, because division is synonymous with disunity.

That is why, when Adam was created alone, G-d declared "It is not good for Adam to be alone!" And what does the Pasuk in Mishlei write about the union of man and woman - "Someone who found a woman, found (the) good (that he lost)".

As a matter of fact, the Torah writes "ki'Tov" seven times in the Parshah of the creation, corresponding to many things that are connected with the weekly cycle - the seven days of the week, the seven stars and their cohorts, the seven heavens, the seven seas ..., the seven voices (at Har Sinai) seven times that a decree is repeated in heaven before it is carried on earth (which is why the text of 'Hatavas Chalom' reads 'seven times they will decree on it in heaven), seven Yamim-tovim in the year, the seven names of the Yeitzer-ha'Ra, the seven Altars that Bil'am built, the seven weeks of the Omer, the seven voices (mentioned in "Mizmor le'David"[Kapitel 29]) and the seven of the Kasher species of animals that entered No'ach's Teivah.


The Sar ha'Olom

When the earth produced vegetation, it produced the species individually, even though it had not been instructed to do so. And Rashi explains that it did so, because if the trees (which grow separately to begin with), were commanded to produce fruits "according to their species", then how much more so, the vegetation (which does not, and) which would all grow in grand confusion if the species did not grow seperately.

When that happened, the Sar ha'Olom (the angel known as Prince of the World) proclaimed 'May G-d be glorified forever!' But how is this possible, asks the Rosh, seeing as the Sar ha'Olom is none other than the Angel Matatron. Now according to those opinions that Chanoch became Matatron, Chanoch himself was not even born yet?

It is possible that there are two Sarei Olom he explains, and it is possible that the Medrash that describes how the Sar ha'Olom proclaimed "Yehi Ch'vod ... ", does not subscribe to the opinion that Chanoch became Matatron.

But it is also possible, he adds, to reconcile the two opinions. Perhaps it was the same Matatron (that Chanoch would later turn into), who proclaimed "Yehi Ch'vod Hashem le'olom"! Because even if Chanoch was not yet born, his Neshamah or his Mazal was. And that is what sang Hashem's praises.

And, he adds, we have a precedent for this, in the Gemara in Avodah-Zarah (5a), which relates how G-d showed Adam each generation and its sages. Considering that those sages had not yet been born, what did He show him?

The answer is, even if they had not yet been born, their Neshamos and their Mazalos had, and that is what Hashem showed Adam.


The Image and the Form

What does the Torah mean when it writes "Let us make man in our image and similar to our form"?

The Rosh explains that one of the images in the Merkavah (the charriot in the form of the four super angels that support Hashem's Throne), is in the shape of Adam. And that is the one through whom G-d communicates with the prophets. When G-d created Adam, He made him in that image.

And He also made him similar to the celestial bodies in that, like them, he has knowledge of good and bad. And it is to that form that the Pasuk is referring here. However, since man's knowledge is so deeply inferior to that of an angel, the comparison is only slight, which is why the Torah uses the expression 'ki'demuseinu' (similar to our form), rather than 'bi'demuseinu' (in our form), like it wrote "be'tzalmeinu" (in our image) .



And the earth was completed ...And G-d completed ...His work ..." (2:1).

Why, asks the Rosh, does the Torah find it necessary to insert the second phrase? Surely, if the earth was completed, then G-d must have completed it?

And he explains that this marks the difference between a human craftsman and G-d. When a human craftsman finishes a major undertaking, he needs to check it over, just to make sure that everything is the way it should be, that all the parts are in place and in working order.

Not so G-d. Once He completed the entire world, it really was complete, and no check was necessary. Human error is what it claims to be. It is not applicable to G-d.


A Creation of Integrity

The Rosh states that G-d's seal 'Emes', is stamped at the beginning of the creation, in the middle and at the end. In fact, he heard from R. Moshe, who heard from his Rebbe, R. Shmuel, that it appears no less than six times (I once heard that the 'Vav' in the Name of Hashem represents truth), all of them, in the form of 'Sofei Teivos' (the last letters [the seal] of three consecutive words).These are they -

1. "bor-o Eloki-m e-s.
2. "bor-o Eloki-m la'aso-s.
3. "Va'yivr-o Eloki-m e-s (ha'taninim)".
4. "va'yar(-alef) Eloki-m e-s .
5. "Va'yivr-o Eloki-m e-s (ha'Adam)".
6. "Va'yar (-alef) Eloki-m e-s (kol asher osoh)".

That is why, the Rosh concludes, the Chachamim instituted six times 'emes' in 'Emes ve'Yatziv', because every sin was created with integrity.

* *


(Part 7)
(based on the morning Korbanos, with the commentaries of Rashi on the Chumash and of the Sidur Iyun Tefilah)

The Musaf of Shabbos

"And on the day of Shabbos (they shall bring) two lambs without blemish, in their first year, and two tenths of fine flour as a Minchah mixed with oil and its drink-offering.

The burned-offering of Shabbos on its day (it could not be compensated on another Shabbos), after the daily burned-offering and its drink-offering" - which means that the two lambs followed the lamb of the morning Tamid, but preceded that of the afternoon. And so it was with all the Musafin.


We already discussed the basic Musaf of Rosh Chodesh, together with the Musaf of Rosh Hashanah (see Rosh Hashanah issue), and there is no point in repeating it. Here are a few points that we did not mention there.


The Musaf of Rosh Chodesh

The Musaf of Rosh Chodesh, like that of Shabbos, could not be compensated. If, for some reason or other, one failed to bring it on Rosh Chodesh, there was nothing one could do to make up for the deficiency. In fact, this Din applies to all Korbenos Tzibur with a fixed time.

"And one he-goat as a sin-offering for G-d".

All the goats of Musaf come to atone for Tum'as Mikdash ve'Kodashav (meaning that someone either entered the precincts of the Beis-Hamikdash or ate Kodshim, in a state of Tum'ah). The Torah writes "for G-d" in connection with the Musaf of Rosh Chodesh, to teach us that the atonement pertains specifically to a case where the person who sinned was not aware tht he was Tamei (either at the beginning or at the end), only to G-d. As a matter of fact, we learn all the other Musafin from the Musaf of Rosh Chodesh in this regard.

The final word "ve'nisko" (and its drink-offering) pertains to the first set of Korbanos (comprising the Olah [the burned-offering]), but not to the Chatas (the sin-offering), even though it is written directly after it - because no Chatas ever included a drink-offering.


The Order of the Day

Abaye set down the (daily) order of the Ma'arachah (on the Mizbei'ach) in the name of the Gemara (according to tradition) following the opinion of Aba Shaul.

The large Ma'arachah (on which they burned the limbs and the fat pieces of the Korbanos) preceded the second Ma'arachah for the Ketores (meaning from which they took coal in the pan for the Ketores on the Mizbei'ach ha'Zahav, which was situated in the Heichal).

The second Ma'arachah preceded the arranging of the two blocks of wood (on the Ma'arachah), which in turn, preceded the removal of ashes from the Mizbei'ach ha'Zahav, and that preceded the preparation of the five lamps (since it was placed a little closer to the entrance, and the Kohen reached it before he reached the Menorah).

The preparation of the five lamps of the Menorah was followed by the Shechitah of the Korban Tamid and the sprinkling of its blood (according to Aba Shaul), before preparing the remaining two lamps. The reason that the Menorah was prepared in two parts is because the Torah writes in that coneection "ba'boker ba'boker" (indicating that its preparation should be divided into two).

The preparation of the two lamps preceded the Ketores, the Ketores, the burning of the limbs of the Tamid, and the Tamid preceded the bringing of the Minchah (part of the Minchas Nesachim) that accompanied the Tamid.

The Minchah was followed by the Chavitin (the Kohen Gadol's bi'daily flour-offering), which was in turn, followed by the Nesachim (part of the Minchas Nesachim).

Then came the Musaf (on Shabbos, Rosh Chodesh or Yom-tov), followed by the Bazichin (the two little bowls of Levonah that were taken from the Shulchan each Shabbos and burned on the Mizbei'ach).

And finally, last of all the Korbanos, came the Tamid shel bein ha'arbayim (the Korban Tamid that was brought each afternoon).

For sponsorships and adverts call 651 9502

Back to This Week's Parsha | Previous Issues

This article is provided as part of Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Permission is granted to redistribute electronically or on paper,
provided that this notice is included intact.

Shema Yisrael Torah Network
For information on subscriptions, archives, and
other Shema Yisrael Classes,
send mail to
Jerusalem, Israel