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

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Vol. 21   No. 56

This issue is sponsored for the Refuah Sheleima for
Eliezer ben Rus Chrysler
author of Midei Shabbos Beshabbato.
May he continue to inspire Torah learning
for many years to come.

Parshas Bereishis

Ten Commands, Ten Commandments
(Adapted from the Torah Temimah)

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

The Mishnah in Pirkei Avos (Perek 5, Mishnah 1) teaches us that G-d created the world with ten commands. The source for this is the ten times the word "Vayomer" appears in the Parshah of the creation. Actually, says the Gemara in Rosh Hashanah (32a) "Vayomer" appears only nine times; the tenth time refers to the word "Bereishis", which is also considered a Ma'amar.

In fact, the Mishnah in Pirkei Avos explains, G-d could just as easily have created the world with one command, only in this way He boosted the world's importance, which would enable Him to punish anyone who destroys such an important world on the one hand, and to reward someone who maintains it, on the other.


The number ten also symbolizes the Ten Commandments. The Torah Temimah points out that, whereas the former (based on the word "Vayomer" used in connection with the creation as we explained) are known as 'Asarah Ma'amaros', the latter, (based on the word "Vayedaber Elokim"which introduces them in Parshas Yisro) are called 'Asares ha'Devarim'. And he bases this distinction on the difference between Rachamim\Chesed and Din, which form the basis of these two great events and which are inherent in the two words under discussion ('Amirah' = Rachamim, 'Dibur' = Din).

Our sages inform us that the world was created with Chesed ('Olom chesed yiboneh'), as G-d's basic purpose in creating it was to do kindness to His creations, in that man, the crux of that creation, would earn everlasting life by performing His will. And it is in that vein that, as the Gemara says in Rosh Hashanah (Daf 11a), He created him only with his (Neshamah's) consent, says the Torah Temimah. The Torah, on the other hand, was given with Midas ha'Din (See Rashi, Yisro 20:1), which in contrast was given to Yisrael with 'a mountain held over their heads'.


The Ten Commands in Halachah
(Adapted from the Torah Temimah)


Discussing the Halachic ramifications of the statement that the world was created with Ten Commands, the author cites Gemoros in Rosh Hashanah and Megilah respectively. Chazal teach us there that 1). during Musaf of Rosh Hashanah, one recites a minimum of ten Pesukim for Malchiyos, Zichronos and Shofros, and 2) one does not call up less than ten people to the Torah,

The connection between the two Mitzvos and the ten Ma'amarim, he explains, is easily understood, when we bear in mind that regarding the former, the world (i.e. Adam ha'Rishon) was created on Rosh Hashanah, and the latter, based on Chazal, who teach us that, were it not for the Torah, the world would not be able to exist.

This last statement is based on Pasuk 31, which ends "And it was evening and it was morning, the sixth day". The extra 'Hey' in the word "ha'Shishi", hints at the famous sixth of Sivan, the day on which the Torah was given, as if to say that the creation was only clinched on the sixth of Sivan, when Yisrael accepted the Torah.

Hence Rashi explains that the Torah begins with the word "Bereishis", which tells us that the world was created on account of the Torah, which in Mishlei (8) is referred to as "Reishis Darko".

* * *

Parshah Points to Ponder
An Object-Lesson in Humility

The Gemara in Chagigah (Daf 12b), commenting on Chapter 1, Pasuk 2, of this week's Parshah, explains that on the first day of the Creation, G-d created 'null' and 'void' (which the Gemara in Chagigah defines), wind and darkness. From the following Pasuk, it emerges that He also created light on the first day.

The question arises that if G-d created both light and darkness on the first day, what was there beforehand? Indeed, how does one describe the void that existed prior to the creation?

Before G-d created the world, we do not - we cannot - understand what existence looked like. Hence the Mishnah in Chagigah (2:1) states that if anybody delves into what is above the universe or what is below it, what is to its east and to its west (or, as others explain, what was before its creation or what was after it), it would have been better had he not been born.


The same Mishnah in Chagigah, on which the aforementioned Gemara is based, limits greatly who is permitted to study 'Ma'aseh ha'Merkavah' (the chapter in Yechezkel which discusses G-d's Throne and the 'creatures' that support it) and 'Ma'aseh Bereishis' (details concerning the creation not mentioned in the Torah).


There are entire areas of knowledge of which we know little or nothing, and others, which we not even given the option to study.

The Mishnah in Pirkei Avos, among the seven qualities of a wise man, lists one who admits to what he doesn't know.

And this is the first thing that the Torah teaches us - before we even begin to learn Torah.

The Torah begins with a 'Beis', the Medrash points out, because it stands for 'B'rachah' (blessing). The commentaries also point out that the 'Beis' resembles brackets (parentheses), shutting out what happened before the world was created. A person who knows that his knowledge is limited is indeed blessed.


The Fruits of Jealousy

The Torah records how Kayin was angry because Hevel's Korban was accepted, whilst his was not. That anger was really based on jealousy, a Midah, which in itself is not a bad thing. On the contrary, Chazal say that ''Jealousy of Talmidei-Chachamim leads to increased wisdom," provided one looks inwards - to raise oneself to the standard of the person of whom one is jealous.

Had Kayin applied a little introspection, he would have realized that his Korban consisting of flax was inferior to that of the good-quality sheep that Hevel had brought. He would then have repaired the fault, as G-d advised him to do, and emulated his brother. Then his Korban, too, would have been accepted.

Jealousy is a bad Midah when it directed at the person who achieves what he has not - that is when it leads to anger and even at times, to murder!


The story is told of R. Yisrael Salanter, who once observed two young boys playing, and he saw how one of them pushed his friend into a pit and declare himself king. At which he remarked that the boy who pushed will turn out to be a Rasha - because already at that tender age, he had displayed the extreme Midah of boosting himself at the expense of his fellow-man's downfall.

There is nothing wrong with wanting to be king, but it should be achieved by 'climbing on to a rock', not by pushing one's friend into a pit!

* * *

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