by Zvi Akiva Fleisher
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SEDRAH SELECTIONS PARSHAS BREISHIS 5762 BS"D
Ch. 1, v. 1: "Breishis boro Elokim" - What was the calendar date of the creation of mankind? 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 with Rabbi Yehoshua who posits that the world was created in the month of Nison. 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. We see from here that the plan of Hashem is considered as if it had physically taken place. This can be understood in the following light: A person can plan a project but many things can stand in the way of its coming to fruition; he might change his mind, obstacles might stand in the way, etc. Not so with Hashem. The actual creation is secondary, as all that He wishes to do is assured. There is no stopping Hashem. "Lo ish .. u'ven odom v'yisnechom .." (Bmidbar 23:19). In reference to Hashem, the decision to do something is primary. The decision of Hashem is as good as done.
In any case, it seems that Rabbeinu Tam is of the opinion that mankind was created on the first day of the month of Nison.
Ch. 1, v. 1: "Breishis boro" - There is a commonly known expression "Breishis boro," - the first and foremost matter is health, with the word "boro" translated as "healthy." In the book of "Ben Siro," the son of Yirmiyohu, it states that if one has health he has everything (30:16). Although this book is not part of Tanach I take the liberty to quote it, as the gemara quotes it in a few places.
The Rashb"o in his responsa volume #7 deals with a matter of kashrus. He states that he puts in extra effort to attempt to be lenient if possible, because the food that was under question was an item that he considered very good for one's health. See Beis Yoseif Y.D. at the end of hilchos "orloh."
Ch. 1, v. 1,11,24,27: "V'eis ho'oretz, Tadshei ho'oretz deshe, V'es habheimoh l'minoh, Va'yivro Elokim es ho'odom" - In these four verses we find the four levels of objects that Hashem created, inanimate, vegetation, animal, and human. The Shiltei Hagiborim and others write that besides these four categories Hashem also created objects and creatures that are a bridge between or a blend of the different levels. For example, between inanimate stone and plant life there is coral stone. It grows as does plant life. I have also read (in a secular source) that there is male coral, which produces a substance that is transferred to female coral, much like pollen from plants to plants. Between animal and man there is a Yidoni, called "ish haso'deh" in the mishneh Keilim. It is an animal in a form much like a human. Also, the medrash says that Hashem created human forms that have the head of a bull, and the form of a bull with a human head. The gemara Yerushalmi Nidoh 3:2 deals with the halachic status of such half-humans. It states that a creature that has a human body and the head of an ox may read from the Torah, i.e. we consider it a person, and may later be slaughtered, i.e. we likewise consider it an ox. The gemara also states that if a woman gives birth to a creature that is in the form of a raven and it flies to the top of the tree, if this woman had a married son who after the birth of this creature dies childless, we climb to the top of the tree and tell the creature, "Either go through the 'chalitzoh' or 'yibum' process." It seems that it is externally discernable if this bird is a male or a female, as one's sister does not perform "yibum" or "chalitzoh." A most amazing gemara!
Ch. 1, v. 3: "Y'hi ohr" - The vast majority of light that we have at our disposal at night is electrical. It seems that the word form "electric" was used by the Rambam. He writes in his commentary on the mishneh Keilim 2:8 that the wick that is placed into a lantern is a bit of cloth that is soaked in either ELECTRON or oil.
Ch. 1, v. 5: "Va'y'hi erev va'y'hi voker yom ECHOD" - The gemara Nozir 7a states that day and night are one day and there is no separation between them. It seems that the gemara is explaining why the word ECHOD is used rather than RISHON. The Baal Hamo'ore on the gemara R.H. says that this means that at the same time there is day in one place and night in another. The Nachalas Yaakov says that ECHOD is used to indicate that this was a unique day, as ex nihilo, "yeish mei'ayin," something from nothing, took place. On the other days there were already parts of creation in place. On a simple level we can say that the cardinal number ONE is used when there is no other day in existence, hence "day one" and not the ordinal "first day."
Ch. 1, v. 16: "Es hamo'ore hagodol .. v'es hamo'ore hakotone" - We have the unusual expression of "l'chatos laShem" by the musof sacrifice of Rosh Chodesh (Bmidbar 28:15). The gemara Chulin 60b says that this is an allusion to an atonement for Hashem through the Rosh Chodesh offering because when the moon renews itself, it is a reminder that Hashem diminished the size of the moon. It was once equal in size to the sun.
The Meshech Chochmoh explains that the atonement is not for the diminishing. That was justified, as explained in the above-mentioned gemara. It is needed because had the sun and moon remained equal in size, then those who might have had a propensity to take on the sun as a deity would have been discouraged by seeing that the sun had an equal, the moon. Now that the sun is larger, there is more latitude for making this mistake and Hashem is partly responsible, thus necessitating an atonement, kavyochol.
Ch. 1, v. 25: "Va'yaas Elokim .. kol remmes ho'adomoh" - The Medrash Shochar Tov on T'hilim chapter #18 asks why Hashem created bugs. Two answers are offered by the medrash. The first is that if and when Hashem would be angry with mankind and contemplate destroying the world, He would then say to Himself, "If I am willing to sustain bugs which serve no purpose, I should surely maintain the existence of mankind, which is capable of great accomplishments." The second answer is that the extract of bugs is useful in treating the sting of other creatures.
Ch. 1, v. 27: "B'tzalmo b'tzelem Elokim" - We translate "tzelem" as FORM. In Shmos 25:9 we find the word "tavnis," also translated as FORM. The Shitoh M'kubetzes on gemara K'subos 8b differentiates between these two words. "Tzelem" refers to the spiritual aspect of the form, while "tavnis" refers to the physical aspect.
Ch. 3, v. 20: "Vayikroh ho'odom es sheim ishto Chavoh" - We give a son his name at his circumcision. When should one give a daughter her name? The Zeicher Dovid says that it should be done right after her birth. Others wait until after she is thirty days old, while others give a name only on Shabbos. See the responsa of the Rashb"oh 4:30 who deals with this matter.
Ch. 4, v. 2,3: "Vatahar va'tei'led es Kayin, vatosef lo'leddes es ochiv es Ho'vel" - A simple reading leads one to believe that Kayin and Hevel were born a while apart from two separate pregnancies. However, the M.R. 23:4 says that we only find the word "vatahar" once, indicating that they were twins. As well, Pirkei d'Rebbi Eliezer chapter #21 says that they were twins.
Ch. 4, v. 8: "Va'yokom Kayin el Hevel ochiv va'yahargeihu" - Why does the verse mention that Hevel was his brother, as we already know this from verse 2? Perhaps the verse is informing us that Kayin tricked Hevel into lowering his guard by speaking to him in a friendly "brotherly" manner, and then suddenly attacking him.
Ch. 4, v. 15: "L'vilti hakose oso kol motzo" - Hashem acquiesced to Kayin's request to grant him life. How long did Kayin live? The M.R. Shmos 31:18 says that he lived for 1,656 years. Since he was born during year 1, it would seem that he died during the great deluge (see Rashi on Breishis 11:1).
Ch. 4, v. 17: "Va'yeida Kayin es ishto vatahar va'tei'led es Chanoch" - Was this Kayin's only child? The M.R. Kohelles 6:3 says that he sired 100 children.
Ch. 4, v. 25: "Vatikroh es shmo Sheis" - Starting with the first verse in this chapter children and grandchildren were born to Odom and Chavoh and their names are stated. This is the first time the Torah says that a parent NAMED a child, "vatikroh." Why wasn't this word form used earlier? If a parent gives a child a name, can the name later be totally discarded and a new name given? The Holy Zohar Breishis page 96b relates that someone gave his child a name and Rabbi Abbo told the father to call his child Idi from then onwards, a total change of name.
Ch. 5, v. 5: "Va'y'h'yu kol y'mei Odom ASHER CHAI" - These last two words seem superfluous. MVRHRH"G R' Yaakov Kamenecki zt"l answers that since Odom was allotted 1,000 years and only lived 930 years, the verse is telling us he should have lived longer, but since he gave away 70 years these are the years that he "actually lived." He says that this also explains the words, "V'ei'leh y'mei shnei chayei Avrohom ASHER CHOY," (Breishis 25:7), since Avrohom was allotted 180 years of life, but lost 5 years so that he would not live to see his grandson Eisov leave the fold, the same term is used.
Ch. 5, v. 5: "Va'y'h'yu kol y'mei Odom asher chai tsha mei'os shonoh ushloshim shonoh" - The Holy Zohar on Breishis page 140a and the Medrash Shochar Tov on T'hilim chapter #92 say that Odom donated 70 years of his life to King Dovid, who would have otherwise been a stillborn. The Mahara"l of Prague in N'sivos Olom, Nsiv Ha'teshuvoh at the end of chapter 4 explains this. He says that just as Odom, primary man, the first human being on earth, was its leader, so too, King Dovid was the first king of the bnei Yisroel who was of the royal tribe of Yehudoh.
The Holy Zohar in parshas Vayishlach, pages 168a-b gives us an alternate calculation for King Dovid's 70 years. He says that Avrohom should have lived for 180 years just as his son Yitzchok did, but he gave 5 years away for King Dovid. Yaakov should have lived for 175 years, as did Avrohom, but he only lived 147 years since he gave away 28 years. Yoseif should have lived for 147 years as did his father Yaakov, but he gave away 37 years. These three donations add up to the 70 years of King Dovid's life. He adds that the majority of Dovid's years was donated by Yoseif because both he and Yoseif were kings.
A careful reading of Rashi's commentary on the words in T'hilim 90:4, "Ki elef shonim b'einecho k'yom esmol" indicates that he is in agreement with the second opinion mentioned in the Holy Zohar.
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See also Oroh V'Simchoh - Meshech Chochmoh on the Weekly Parsha
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