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

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Vol. 21   No. 1

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Parshas Bereishis

Partners with G-d

"And heaven and earth were completed" (2:1).

The Gemara in Shabbos (Daf 119) states that anyone who Davens on Friday night and recites "Vayechulu", it is as if he became a partner with G-d in the creation.

The Oznayim la'Torah wonders how someone who did not participate one iota in the creation becomes a partner with the Creator? Indeed, he points out, if all the people in the world were to combine their resources, they would not be able to create a flea, let alone a world.


The answer, he explains, lies in Chazal, who say that, after everything had been created, the one thing that was missing was Menuchah (rest\inactivity), as the following Pasuk continues "And G-d completed on the seventh day the work which He performed"; and He did this by desisting from His work and resting (See Rashi).

It transpires that, not only was Shabbos an intrinsic part of the creation, it was its completion. Based on the principle that 'everything goes after the conclusion', it transpires that even though Yisrael were not able to participate in the first part of the Creation, they are able to participate in its final phase - by resting from creative activity on Shabbos. And this begins with a verbal expression, acknowledging the major roll that Shabbos played in the creation of the world. In this way Yisrael become equal partners with G-d.


Note that whereas this article pertains to Yisrael only, the following one pertains to all of mankind.


Man's Role in the Creation

"And G-d blessed the seventh day and He sanctified it, because on it He rested from all His work, which G-d did *to do*" (2:2).

G-d's work, the commentaries explain, was the formation of the materials, leaving us to complete the work that G-d left unfinished, as Rebbi Akiva explained to the Roman general Turnusrufus, when the latter asked him why K'lal Yisrael perform B'ris Milah, conveying the impression that they consider the work of G-d's hands imperfect and that it needs to be improved. And he proved his point by reminding the general that man does not eat the wheat that grows, before it goes through many processes that he (and not G-d) need to perform.

The source for Rebbi Akiva's teaching is the above Pasuk, which teaches us that G-d deliberately left His creations unfinished, so that man should be able to complete what G-d started. G-d created, but man completes!


The Oznayim la'Torah elaborates on man's role: In order to convince Chavah to eat from the Tree of Knowledge, the snake led her to believe that eating of the forbidden fruit would enable them to create worlds, just as G-d did.

(Note that the snake was actually preaching evolution.)

This was of course, a lie. G-d created the Tree of Knowledge, just as He created the rest of the world, out of nothing. And this was something that He, and nobody else would ever be able to emulate (as we mentioned in the previous article).


Adam was never meant to be G-d's equal (Kevayachol) however. His partner (See previous article), yes, His equal, no!. He has been placed in the world to develop it from its raw state, as we just explained, to perfect it physically, and himself spiritually, using the various tools that G-d has provided him with. And this, in part, demonstrates his superiority over all of G-d's other creations. This task of developing the world actually incorporates the ability to create (not something out of nothing, but) something out of something, as we will now explain (thereby lending a grain of truth to the snake's claim). And this ability is the most advanced skill with which G-d has blessed him.


The Medrash explains that two creations G-d meant to create on Friday (afternoon before dusk), but left them for Adam to create - fire and mules. On Shabbos, G-d imbued Adam with a spark of Divine wisdom. He took two flint-stones and rubbed them together, thereby creating fire. Then he brought two animals (a horse and a donkey) and mated them, thereby producing the first mule.

The question arises, says the Oznayim la'Torah, a. why G-d postponed the creation of specifically two items until Motza'ei Shabbos? and b. why specifically through Adam ha'Rishon?

And he answers with the above explanation, bearing in mind that both fire and the mule were new creations that were created out of creations that already existed. After Adam sinned and G-d decreed that he would have to work hard to earn a livelihood, denigrating his standard of living to below that of animals, whose livelihood came to them with relative ease, G-d saw fit to boost his deflated morale by demonstrating his superiority over the animal world. And He did this by handing over to him the ability to create (by postponing the creation of fire and mules, the two final creations that He had intended to create at dusk), for Adam to perform on Motza'ei Shabbos.

Why specifically fire and mules, asks the author? And he reminds us that fire was the first creation ("And Hashem said 'Let there be light' ", which is the source of fire) and animals the last. In fact however, man now became able to create anything in between, provided it is something out of something.

* * *

Parshah Pearls
(Adapted from the Oznayim la'Torah)

The Creation v Matan Torah

"In the beginning (Bereishis), G-d created Heaven and earth" (1:1).

The Medrash tells us that when G-d came to create the world, using the letters of the 'Alef' 'Beis', each letter sought to be the one that opened the creation. When He chose the letter 'Beis' (which stands for B'rachah), the 'Alef' (representing the Oneness of G-d) filed a complaint with G-d, who reassured her however, that when He would come to give the Torah, she would be the first. Indeed, the Ten Commandments begin "Onochi Hashem Elokecha" (with an 'Alef').

This compromise teaches us, says the Oznayim la'Torah, that of the two major events, the creation and the giving of the Torah, the giving of the Torah is the more important. The creation begins with a 'Beis', but Matan Torah with an 'Alef'.

The only reason the 'Beis' took precedence there, he explains, is because the means always comes before the end, not because it is more important, but because that is the natural sequence of events.

As against that, it is the end that is more important, both in thought ('Sof ma'aseh be'machshavah techilah') and in importance.

Hence the Pasuk says in Yirmiyah (33) "Were it not for My covenant day and night (the Torah), I would not have placed the laws of Heaven and earth". And, as Chazal have said, after creating the world, G-d made a condition with His creations, that if Yisrael will not accept the Torah (when the time comes), He will return them to null and void (See Rashi, Pasuk 31).

And the same holds with regard to each and every Jew individually; just as the world has no raison d'etre without Torah, neither does he, as we say each night at Ma'ariv 'For they are our life and the length of our days'.


The Tree of Life

"But from the Tree of Knowledge you shall not eat" (2:17).

Hakadosh-Baruch-Hu was not worried about the Tree of Life, the Oznayim la'Torah explains, because, as long as he had not eaten from the Tree of Knowledge, Adam was destined to live forever anyway.

And after he sinned, he was driven out of Gan Eden, so there was no possibility of him eating from it.

Before Adam ate from the forbidden fruit, the author points out, a warning not to eat sufficed, but now that he had contravened the first warning, demonstrating that he could no longer be trusted, G-d had no option but to banish him from the garden altogether.


Kayin & Hevel

"And G-d turned to Hevel and to his Minchah (gift), but to Kayin and his Minchah He did not turn" (4:4).

Hevel's Minchah consisted of the best of his firstborn sheep, whilst Kayin brought some leftovers of his food (Tanchuma), so we can easily understand as to why G-d accepted Hevel's Minchah and not that of Kayin.

But what does the Pasuk mean, asks the Oznayim la'Torah, when it says that G-d accepted Kayin and not Hevel?


He explains it with Chazal, who explain that until after the Flood, Adam and his descendants were forbidden to kill animals for their meat.

And therein lies one of the major differences between the two brothers. Kayin, it seems, did not see why if slaughtering an animal for his own use was prohibited, slaughtering it for the sake of G-d should be any different. In so doing, he placed himself on a higher plane than his father Adam, who brought a Korban to Hakadosh-Baruch-Hu after his sin.

In other words, he placed himself on a par with Hakadosh-Baruch-Hu. Hevel on the other hand, following in his father's footsteps, understood G-d's superiority. He figured that what is forbidden to him, is not necessarily forbidden when it is for the sake of G-d; so he brought an animal as a Korban. So it was not only Hevel's Korban that G-d accepted, but also his humility, whilst on the other hand, G-d rejected, not only Kayin's gift, but also his conceit, as the Pasuk writes in Tehilim (101:5) " someone with haughty eyes him I cannot stand!"


One may initially have attributed Kayin's choice of Korban to his reluctance to harm an animal (Tz'ar ba'alei chayim). But once we see what he did to his own brother, when he believed that his Kavod had been violated, how his own Kavod meant more to him than his brother's life, it became clear that it was his Kavod that caused him to bring such an offering, as we explained.

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