by Zvi Akiva Fleisher
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SEDRAH SELECTIONS BREISHIS 5761 BS"D
L'ILUY NISHMAS OVI MORI R' CHAIM B"R SIMCHOH Z"L HK"M
B'HAS'CHOLAS MACHAZOR CHODOSH SHEL HATORAH, E'TEIN SHEVACH LO'KEIL GODOL V'NOROH
Ch. 1, v. 1: "Breishis boro Elokim" - The gemara Rosh Hashonoh 27a says that the text of our Rosh Hashonoh prayers "zeh ha'yom tchilas maa'secho" is according to the opinion of Rabbi Eliezer who says that the world was created in the month of Tishrei. Tosfos d.h. "k'man matzlinon" asks that in reality we side (gemara Rosh Hashonoh 12a) with Rabbi Yehoshua who posits that the world was created in the month of Nison, and Rosh Hashonoh is not "zeh ha'yom tchilas maa'secho." As well, Tosfos raises a seeming contradiction in the poems of Rabbi Eliezer of Kalir as to which month was the one in which the world was created. Rabbeinu Tam finally answers that although we side with Rabbi Yehoshua, we can still attribute the creation to the month of Tishrei, since Hashem entertained the idea of creating the world during the month of Tishrei, although the actual creation took place in Nison.
Perhaps this is why we say "zeh hayom TCHILAS maa'secho, - the BEGINNING of Your actions," as only the decision was made in Tishrei, while in reality the world came into existence in the month of Nison. As well, this would explain the words of the prayer "Ha'yom HARAS olom," - literally "today is the CONCEPTION of the world," since it was only conceived on the first of Tishrei and not actually created on that day. (After writing this thought I mentioned it to Rabbi A.B. who later showed me that this interpretation is to be found in the writings of the Ramcha"l in Sefer Hakavonos, an elucidation of our prayers al pi the Holy Ari z"l on page 108. Boruch she'kivanti.)
Rashi on 1:1 says that Hashem originally planned to create the world to be run in a manner of strict judgement, as indicated by the word "Elokim" in our verse, but saw that it could not exist under such terms. He then created the world with a balance of strict judgement and mercy, indicated by the words "Hashem Elokim" (2:4). This seems to fit perfectly with the words of Tosfos. Hashem conceived the idea of creating the world in Tishrei, the month of judgement, but in fact created it in the month of Nison, the month of Divine mercy, when in the future the bnei Yisroel would be redeemed from Egypt. As well, we find that from the month of Tishrei onwards in the Northern Hemisphere, that fall begins and leads into winter, months of DIN, when the world's plant life withers and dies. From Nison onwards, with the advent of spring and leading into the summer, we find growth of plant life.
Even though the creation of the world was only "oloh b'mach'shovo" in Tishrei, we nevertheless attribute the creation of the world to Tishrei, is as if it actually took place then, since no one can stop Hashem once He decides to do something, in sharp contrast to humans, thus the thought alone is considered as if it was done.
Tosfos ends his words by bringing another case of "oloh b'mach'shovo," the creation of Odom and Chavoh, quoting the gemara Eruvin 18a that originally Hashem planned to make Odom and Chavoh as two distinct beings, but instead combined them as one, and only later separated Chavoh from Odom. Although the M.R. Breishis 17:8 and the gemara Nidoh 31b say that regarding some matters woman is harsher than man, as she was taken from his bone and flesh, nevertheless it is possible to say that men are tough while women are merciful because man was created from the earth, an emotionless entity, while woman was created from man, who has emotions and feelings. Perhaps Tosfos is telling us more than meets the eye at a cursory glance, which seems to only be a reference to the idea that Hashem originally planned one way, but executed things differently. Possibly Tosfos is also bringing a reference to the concept that He planned to create the world in Tishrei and have it operate with strict judgement, just as he planned to create man and woman from the earth itself, thus creating the forebearers of all mankind from the inanimate earth and thus imbuing them both with harshness. In turn, children would be brought up by a set of parents who are both tough. This would be a furtherance of the world running by strictness. In reality Hashem created woman from man, thus creating a parent who is merciful as well, in keeping with "Hashem Elokim," bringing in a partner who is merciful. This embodies the same "oloh b'mach'shovo" as actually creating the world in Nison.
Ch. 1, v. 1: "Breishis boro Elokim ES" - The M.R. Breishis 18:4 says that Hashem created the world with the power of the letters of the Alef Beis. Commentators say that this is alluded to in the first words of the Torah, as the word ES is spelled Alef-Sof, indicating that the creation came about with the energy of all the letters from Alef through Tof. As well, the Rabbis have stated in numerous places that the world as we know it will stand for 6,000 years.
The Shach in his commentary on parshas B'har brings a most magnificent connection between these two concepts. He quotes Rabbi Shimon haTeimoni asking Rabbi Zeiro (The sefer Seder Hadoros explains how it was possible for this to be as Rabbi Shimon haTeimoni lived centuries before Rabbi Z'eiro.), "How do the Rabbis know that the world will stand for 6,000 years?" Rabbi Z'eiro responded that they based it upon the fact that the world was created through the letters of the Alef Beis, and their total numerical value gives us a total of 6,000. How so? Add up the value all the letters from Alef through Yud and you have 55. Add from Kof through Kuf and you have another 540. Reish, Shin, and Tof yield 900. The five final letters, final Kof, final Mem, final Nun, final Pei, and final Tzadi have the values of 500, 600, 700, 800, and 900 respectively, yielding 3,000. Then we come back to the letter Alef again, but this time after the letter final Tzadi it has the value of 1,000 (Alef=Elef). Add 55+540+900+3,000+1000 and you have a total of 5,995. The gemara M'nochos 29b derives from the words "Ki b'Yo-H Hashem tzur olomim" (Yeshayohu 26:4) that Hashem created this world and the next with the power of the letters Yud and Hei (b'Yo-H means with the letters Yud and Hei). The gemara then asks, "With which letter did He create this world and with which letter the next?" The gemara derives from the words that appear later in our parsha (2:4), "Eileh toldos hashomayim v'ho'oretz b'*H*iborom," which can be read as "b'Hei bro'om," that Hashem created this world with the letter Hei. Rabbi Z'eiro said that this means that beyond all the letters of the Alef Beis being used to create this world, an extra letter Hei was also used. The numerical value of Hei is 5, and when added to the above-mentioned 5,995, we have a total of 6,000!
Ch. 1, v. 1: "V'es ho'oretz" - The gemara P'sochim 94a says that the circumference of the earth is 6,000 "parso'ose." The Medrash Shir Hashirim 6:4 says that there are seven lands (possibly referring to seven continents).
Ch. 1, v. 16: "Hamo'ore hagodol" - This refers to the sun which is 170 times as large as the earth, which in turn is 40 times as large as the moon. This means that the sun is 6,800 times as large as the moon, hence "hamo'ore hakotone" refers to the moon. (Rambam hilchos yesodei haTorah 3:8)
Ch. 1, v. 31: "V'hi'nei tov M'ODE" - We find the expression TOV throughout the days of creation. However, on the third day we find it expressed twice (1:10 and 1:12). As well, we find it twice on the sixth day (1:25 and our verse), plus the addition of the word M'ODE, found only here on the sixth day. In Vayikroh 25:3,4 the verses say regarding the shmitoh year, "Sheish shonim tizra .., u'vashonoh hashviis Shabbas Shabbosone."
Rashi on 25:2 brings the Toras Kohanim 25:7 which says that the seventh year is for Hashem, similar to the weekly Shabbos, where it also says Shabbos Shabbosone (Shmos 31:15, 35:2). It seems that the seven years of the shmitoh cycle correspond to the seven days of the week. As mentioned above, we find that the words "ki tov" are mentioned twice on the third day of creation. As well, on the sixth day "ki tov" is mentioned once and the expression "v'hinei tov m'ode" is also found. The Meshech Chochmoh says that during the seven-year cycle we find that "maaser oni," tithing that is given to the poor, is given on the third and the sixth years. Giving "maa'seir oni" is an act of "tov," kindness, corresponding to the word "tov" written twice on both the third and sixth days of creation. Perhaps the doubling of "tov" indicates giving "maa'seir" twice, once to the Levi, known as "maa'seir rishon," and once to the poor man. On the first, second, fourth, and fifth years there is also "maa'seir sheini," but it may be consumed by the owner himself, thus this "maa'seir" does not embody "tov."
Perhaps another point can be added. On the sixth day we find the expression, "tov M'ODE," - exceedingly good. This might be in place since giving a tenth of one's produce on the sixth year is an exceedingly great act of kindness. Since the donour will not plant on the seventh year, he has a greater inclination to save as much as possible from the sixth year to sustain himself later. Alternatively, since there is a blessing that the sixth year will give forth produce to sustain us for three years, the tithing of the produce of the sixth year is triple the normal yearly amount, hence "tov m'ode."
Ch. 2, v. 7: "Va'yeetzer ...... es ho'odom ofor min ho'adomoh" - The gemara Sanhedrin 38a says that the earth that was used to form Odom was taken from all over the world. The torso of his body was formed from the earth of Bovel, the organs from the rest of the world, and his head from the earth of Eretz Yisroel. Pirkei d'Rebbi Eliezer ch. #12 says that the earth of Eretz Yisroel used for his head was specifically from the location of the future Beis Hamikdosh, while the gemara Yerushalmi Nozir 7:2 says that it came from the location of the altar.
Ch. 2, v. 9: "V'eitz hachaim" - The gemara Yerushalmi Brochos 1:1 says that the diameter of the trunk of this tree was equal to the distance that a person would walk in 500 years!
Ch. 2, v. 9: "V'eitz hadaas" - There are numerous opinions as to which type of tree this was. The gemara Brochos 40a says that this was either a grape plant, a fig tree, or wheat. The M.R. Breishis 15:7 says that it was either an esrog tree or a "bnos sheva" tree.
Ch. 3, v. 14: "Va'yomer Hashem Elokim el hanochosh" - The M.R. 20:3 says that three species cohabit face to face, humans, fish, and snakes. This is so because Hashem has spoken to these three species. We find that Hashem spoke to man, earlier in verse 9, to the snake in our verse, and to the fish in Yonoh 2:11. This medrash seems to indicate that Hashem literally spoke to each of these species. This seems contrary to the words of the Ibn Ezra on Yonoh 2:11, who says that Hashem did not speak to the fish, but rather, put the thought into its mind to eject Yonoh.
Ch. 3, v. 21: "Kosnose ore" - Of what material were these garments made?
1) Lamb's wool (gemara Sotoh 14a)
Ch. 4, v. 3: "Va'y'hi mi'keitz yomim" - When did the confrontation between Ka'yin and Hevel occur?
1) The first night of Pesach (Pirkei d'Rebbi Eliezer ch. #21)
How old were they at the time?
1) This incident took place on day they were born. (Yalkut Reuveini in the name of the Medrash Plioh) I don't know how this opinion will explain the words of our verse "Va'y'hi mi'keitz yomim."
2) Fifty days old (Breishis Rabboh 22:4)
3) At the end of their fortieth year (Medrash Tanchumo #9)
Ch. 4, v. 17: "Va'yeida Ka'yin es ishto" - Who was his wife? The gemara Sanhedrin 38b says that she was his twin sister. The Medrash Hagodol says that her name was Kanunto, while the Medrash Ksav Yad says that her name was Hava'yoh.
Ch. 4, v. 23: "Odoh v'Tziloh" - The Sefer Ha'yoshor says that they were both daughters of Keinon (see 5:10).
Ch. 4, v. 23: "Ki ish horagti" - We are all familiar with the opinion that the person Lemech killed was Ka'yin, as stated in the Medrash Tanchumo Breishis #11. However, it is the opinion of the M.R. Shmos 31:17 that Ka'yin lived until the "mabul," and thus was not the person Lemech accidentally killed.
Ch. 5, v. 29: "Noach" - By following the dates given in the Torah for the births of certain people and their ages when they had children you will see that Noach was born in the year 1,056. This calculation is detailed in the Seder Olom. The Moshav Z'keinim says that Noach was born on the day that Odom died. This would mean that his birth took place in the year 930. This seems to be impossible. Any clarification would be appreciated. What was Noach's mother's name?
1) Ashmo'a the daughter of Elishua, who was the son of Chanoch (Seder Hayom)
2) Bas Enosh (Medrash Ksav Yad)
3) Bronosh the daughter of Bracheil (Toldos Odom by the Mahara"sh Algazi)
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