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

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Vol. 16   No. 1

This issue is sponsored jointly
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Parshas Bereishis

Adam and Chavah
(Choosing the Right Helpmate)

(Adapted from the Or ha'Chayim)

The Or ha'Chayim poses a number of questions on the Pasuk "It is not good for Adam to be alone; I will make for him a helpmate corresponding to him" (2:18).

1. The Torah has already informed us that when G-d created Adam, he created him both male and female; So he had a helpmate! What more did he need?

2. The Pasuk then goes on to inform us that G-d brought all the animals to Adam to see what he would call them, and as Chazal explain, His intention was to see if any of them was suitable to serve as his helpmate, and it was only when Adam arrived at the conclusion that not one of them was that He separated Chavah as his helpmate. Some commentaries interpret this to mean that Adam was intimate with each and every animal before deciding that none of them was suitable, and that the only appropriate candidate was Chavah. But that's unacceptable, he argues; Firstly, the mere suggestion that an animal and a human being can unite in this way (and especially when that human being is Adam, 'the Creation of G-d's own hands'!) is simply not feasible; secondly, how could G-d take an animal away from its own mate to satisfy the needs of Adam!

3. Why did G-d see fit to take that helpmate from Adam's own body in the form of an operation? Why could He not create Adam's partner 'dust from the earth', just as he had created Adam (quite apart from the fact that He had already created her together with him, as we explained earlier)? The sages have presented various D'roshos, the Or ha'Chayim points out, which in themselves require elaboration, but we are currently concerned with explaining the Pesukim as they stand (not the Medrashim).


Chazal explain that Chavah was created as part of Adam, either in the form of a tail, or, 'two fronts (i.e. back to back like Siamese twins). When G-d eventually separated them, it cannot have been in order to enable them to cohabit and have children, he explains, seeing as G-d already told them to be fruitful and multiply, even before separating them. Clearly then, they were already created with the ability to reproduce internally, and there was nothing to gain in this area by separating them. By the same token, it was clearly not for that purpose that Adam was shown all the animals.

The question therefore arises a. as to why G-d found it necessary to separate them, and b. why He needed to introduce Adam to all the animals?


Before attempting to answer these questions, the Or ha'Chayim first explains why, before separating Chavah from Adam, G-d found it necessary to inform us as to why He was doing so ("It is not good " [notwithstanding the fact that the reason itself is not initially clear]). And he attributes it to what the people would subsequently have said had He not done so

He connects it to the fact that Chavah, who was alone at the time that the snake confronted her and free from Adam's direct supervision, was directly responsible for the first sin. That being the case, he explains, people would subsequently have turned round and placed the blame for Adam's fateful sin at G-d's door (ke'vayachol). They would have claimed that had He not separated Chavah from Adam, the snake would not have found Chavah alone, and would not have been able to talk her into sinning.

And it is for that reason that the Torah found it necessary to first tell us that G-d needed to separate Chavah from Adam for Adam's own sake, because it was not good (and G-d, who is Himself good, does only what is good). The question remains what purpose did the separation serve and what was good about it?


Following the creation of Adam and Chavah as one unit, the Or ha'Chayim explains, seeing as Adam and 'Chavah' were still connected, it meant that whenever Adam needed to go anywhere, Chavah had to go with him; whereas whenever Chavah went to tend to Adam's needs, Adam had to accompany her. Bearing in mind that G-d intended Chavah to be his helpmate, it was intolerable for Adam to follow his helpmate wherever she went, and for his helpmate to follow him. That is why, before separating Adam and Chavah, He brought each and every animal to Adam, to see whether there was any one among them that would prove a suitable candidate to fulfill the role of a help-mate, to serve him and see to his material needs, leaving Adam and Chavah to live together in harmony, to reproduce and to serve G-d together.

And it was only when Adam discovered that none of the animals was suited to play that role, that G-d separated them, since Adam now realized that Chavah (who was as yet not called by that name and) who had already been designated as his partner with regard to procreation, was also destined to become his helpmate.

That is why the Torah writes "I will make for him a helpmate opposite him" (not attached to him, so that each one can function in their respective roles without hindering each other). (cont.)

* * *

Parshah Pearls
(Adapted mainly from the Rosh)

The significance of "es"

"Bereishis boro Elokim es ha'shomayim ve'es ho'oretz" (1:1).

The Torah inserts the word "es" before "ha'shamayim" and before "ho'oretz", the Rosh explains, because otherwise, we would not know who was the Creator and who was the created; whether it was G-d who created the heaven and the earth, or (Chas ve'Shalom) vice-versa. The word "es" dispels the second option completely.


On the Merit of Avraham and Yitzchak

The fifty-two words in the first paragraph, says the Rosh, correspond to the Gematriyah of the word "Ben" (in the Pasuk in Mishlei "Ben Chacham yismach av"). This Pasuk refers to Avraham Avinu, who began to learn Torah at the age of fifty-two. Whereas the thirty-eight words in the second paragraph, he adds, correspond to Yitzchak, who was thirty-eight when he married Rifkah.


Interestingly, Ya'akov is not hinted in this sequence. Perhaps that is because, as is well-known, the world was created with a combination of Midas ha'Chesed (Avraham) and Midas ha'Din (Yitzchak [see Rashi 1:1]). As for Ya'akov, the commentaries explain, his Midah (Emes) is a perfect blending of the Midos of Avraham and Yitzchak, and was therefore not a new creation, so to speak.

Nevertheless, do not for one moment think that Ya'akov or his Midah are left out of the picture. Not at all! The last letters of both the opening words of the creation ("Bereishis boro Elokim") and its closing words ("boro Elikim la'asos") spell 'Emes' (Ya'akov's Midah)

Evidently, the world was created on the merits of the Avos.


And So It Was

" and there was light (Vayehi or)" (1:3).

The Rosh asks why the Torah writes here "Vayehi or", as opposed to all the other days, where it writes "vayehi chein (and it was so)"?

And he answers that it is because on all the other days, it only writes "Vayehi chein", because it is the way of the Torah to be brief, and "Vayehi chein" is shorter than any other term that it would have had to use to describe whatever it was that was created on that day.

"Vayehi or" on the other hand (the word 'Or' comprising as it does, only one syllable) is no longer than "Vayehi chein", in which case it is not necessary to replace one with the other.


The Sun and the Moon

"And G-d made the two great luminaries, the large luminary to rule over the day, and the small luminary " (1:16).

Both luminaries, the Rosh explains, were large, only the one was larger than the other.

He adds however, that according to Chazal, He initially created them the same size, and it was only after the moon spoke out against the sun that He decreased its size, leaving the sun, which heard its shame but remained silent, the same size, as it was.

That, says the Rosh, explains the words in the Piyut ('Keil Adon') that we recite every Shabbos morning 'He called the sun and it shed its light; He saw and He diminished (ro'oh ve'hiktin ) the shape of the moon'.


Our text however, is 'ro'oh ve'hiskin tzuras ha'levanah' (He saw and he established the shape of the moon').

To explain this, the Da'as Zekeinim M.T. cites a Medrash which explains that when G-d saw how the nations of the world would stray after the sun, worshiping it and treating it like a god, He established the form of the moon, to demonstrate that the sun is not G-d. Indeed, we know that Avraham arrived at the conclusion that the sun is not G-d, when he saw the moon replacing it at night.


Two Kinds of Knowledge

"Did you eat from the Tree from which I commanded you not to eat?" (3:11).

The Rosh cites a Medrash which points out that before Adam ate from the Eitz ha'Da'as, it was not called the Eitz ha'Da'as at all, just 'Eitz', a fact borne out by Chavah's description of the Tree when she spoke to the snake (3:2). And even though the Pasuk does call it by its full name even before Adam ate from it (2:9 & 2:17), it does so with reference to its ultimate name, not by its current one.

To explain this statement, the Medrash, elaborates on the meaning of 'Eitz ha'Da'as'. This cannot be due to a surge of knowledge that Adam obtained when he ate from its fruit, it points out, seeing as prior to sinning, he was wise enough to call each and every animal by the name that suited its nature (as well as his own name, Adam); and what's more, the Name Havayah, by which we refer to G-d, was the Name that was coined by Adam, and which G-d accepted.

R. Pinchas therefore concludes that the Tree adopted that name for the following reason: Had Adam not contravened G-d's command not to eat from the tree, he says, he would never have encountered any negative experiences; he would not have had known what it means to toil or to wear oneself out; he would not have suffered from the cold or from the heat, or from any other kind of suffering. The knowledge to distinguish between good and bad experience was something that began only as a result of his eating the forbidden fruit.

Had he not sinned however, the Tree would have imbibed him with the knowledge of His Creator, reminding him that he bore the yoke of the One who formed him, and that the spirit of pride should not overwhelm him.


In the Name of Hashem

"Then they began to call their gods by the name of Hashem" (4:26).

This teaches us, says the Rosh, that the people came to Enosh and asked him the name of his father (Sheis) and his grandfather (Adam). When they pressed him further to tell the name of Adam's father, he explained to them that Adam had no father, but that Hashem had formed him from dust, and breathed into him a Neshamah of life.

'How did He do that?', they asked him, and he proceeded to make a human form out of dust. But a demon entered its nostrils, and it suddenly sprung to life. Upon which they announced in awe 'This is our god!' and began to worship it.

Hashem's reaction was to announce that since they had begun to call their idols by His Name, He would therefore call the waters of the sea by His name, and they would destroy them all.


Curtailing Man's Years

"My Spirit shall not weigh up forever concerning man, for he is but flesh, but (I have decided) his days will be a hundred and twenty" (6:3).

This is how Rashi translates the words "Lo yodon Ruchi bo'odom le'olom, be'shagam hu bosor".

The Rosh, citing the Ramban, explains that whereas G-d placed the Neshamah inside man in order to influence it to adopt a more spiritual lifestyle, that was not what was happening. Instead, it was the body that was prevailing upon the Neshamah (Kevayachol) to indulge in physical desires and material pursuits. He had therefore decided to curtail the life of man from nine hundred years down to a hundred and twenty. The Pasuk therefore translates thus: "The Neshamah will not continue to remain inside man for such a long period of time (as we find in Melachim "Y'chi adoni ha'Melech le'olom", which means not forever, but for a long time), since it merely adopts the lifestyle of the flesh. Therefore, the Pasuk continues, "his years will be a hundred and twenty".

* * *


'And G-d made the sky three finger-breadths thick between the sides of the Heaven and the waters of the oceans, and He divided between the water that is beneath the sky ' (1:7).


'And Hashem G-d planted a Garden of pleasure for the Tzadikim, before He created the world ' (2:8).


'And Hashem G-d made grow from the ground all trees and a Tree of Life in the middle of the garden that was five hundred years tall and a Tree that whoever would eat its fruit would know the difference between good and evil' (2:9).


'And Hashem took Adam from Har ha'Moriyah, the location where he was created, and He settled him in Gan Eden, to study Torah and to observe its Mitzvos' (2:15).


'And Hashem G-d said "It is not good that Adam sleeps alone, I will make for him a wife ' (2:18)


'And Hashem G-d cast a deep sleep upon Adam and he slept. Then He took one of his vertebrae, the thirteenth vertebra on the right-hand side ' (2:21).


'Because it is revealed to Him that on the day that you eat from it you will experience a great revelation, and you will become like prominent angels who are so wise that they know the difference between good and evil' (3:5).

* * *

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