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by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

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Ch. 1, v. 1: "Breishis" - The responsa Mahar"i of Cologne #9 was asked the following: A congregation in Germany had the custom of selling the first "aliyoh" of Breishis to the highest bidder, and even when the winner was not a Kohein, he would take the "aliyoh" for himself, and any Kohanim present would temporarily leave the shul until after he made the blessing. The past Shabbos Breishis a headstrong Kohein insisted that he would not leave, and that it was wrong to give a non-Kohein the first "aliyoh" since a Kohein was present. The question was whether the custom was a proper one, and if the obstinate Kohein acted properly.

The Mahar"i responded that it was a most proper custom. He added that a similar custom was present in France, but instead of for the "aliyoh" of Breishis, it was sold on Simchas Torah, but basically it was the same custom, just in one place it was enacted upon the reading of the complete parsha of the beginning of the Torah and in the other place on the day of the completion of the Torah. The intention is two-fold, to give the populace an appreciation of the study/reading of the Torah by auctioning off the first "aliyoh," and secondly, that it brought in a large sum of much needed funds that were used to pay for teachers of Torah. This custom is to be lauded. The obstinate Kohein definitely stepped over his bounds, and if necessary should be physically removed from the premises for the blessing of the first "aliyoh."

Ch. 1, v. 1: "Hashomayim" - The Heavens - "Shomayim" is plural because it is made of numerous strata. (Paa'nei'ach Rozo)

Alternatively, "shom," meaning "there," connotes something at a distance. The doubling, "shomayim," connotes something that is very distanced. (Rada"k in sefer Shoroshim)

Ch. 1, v. 3: "Va'y'hi ohr" - And there was light - This is different from all other expressions of "va'y'hi" of creation. Everywhere else it says "va'y'hi chein." Why here does the verse repeat the item brought into existence rather than saying "and it was so"? "Va'y'hi chein" connotes an item of permanence. This was so wherever the verse says "va'y'hi chein," but the original light brought into existence on the first day of creation was not to last. A lesser type of light replaced it (see Rashi on verse 4). This is why our verse says, "And there was light," i.e. but it would not continue. (Baal Haturim) Alternatively, saying "va'y'hi ohr" is just as short as "va'y'hi chein," but other expressions would have been longer. (Chizkuni)

Actually "va'y'hi ohr" is one letter longer, and the gemara P'sochim 3a even counts the number of letters used to express a matter. Any help would be appreciated.

Another answer: The celestial lights were not "hung" into place until the fourth day, so there was only light as a creation but not yet functional. (Minchoh V'luloh)

Ch. 1, v. 5: "Va'y'hi erev va'y'hi voker yom echod" - And it was evening and it was morning of one day - Since from the second day on ordinal numbers are used, i.e. "second day" and not "day two," why here is the cardinal form used? In a previous issue this has been answered numerous ways. Another answer, from the Tur: The intention of these words is to teach that every one complete day contains day and night, day where the sun shines and night on the opposite side of the globe. It seems that his explanation answers another question. Why doesn't the verse say "va'yi'h'yu erev vovoker yom echod," and so on? The intention of the verse is that in one day "va'y'hi," - there was a situation of - "erev" and "boker" at the same time. (Nirreh li)

Ch. 1, v. 6: "B'soch hamoyim" - Inside the water - The Rokei'ach differentiates between "toch" and "kerev." When something is "b'soch" something else, it means that one in mixed into the other, but each is readily recognized. "B'kerev" connotes a mixture where one ore more items are not recognized with a superficial look. It would seem that the Rokei'ach posits that the bnei Yisroel were not readily noticeable among the Egyptians, as per the words "Lokachas lo goy miKEREV goy" (Dvorim 4:34). However, in the Hagodoh Shel Pesach we say "'Va'y'hi shom l'goy,' m'l'meid shehoyu mitzuyonim shom," these words teach us that the bnei Yisroel were conspicuous there. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Ch. 1, v. 7: "Va'y'hi chein" - And it was so - Sforno explains that this means that the waters remained separated permanently, even though this is contrary to the nature of water.

Ch. 1, v. 12: "V'eitz oseh pri" - And a tree that produces fruit - The seed of the fruit of every type of fruit tree can be planted and develop into a tree, save the pomegranate. (Rokei'ach)

Ch. 1, v. 25: "V'es hab'heimoh" - And the animal - The verse could have said "v'hab'heimoh." The word "es" is inclusive and teaches us that Hashem even made a very unusual creature called "achashtran." This is mentioned in Megilas Esther. The Rokei'ach says that it has eight legs, and when running it uses only four at a time. When these four tire, it lowers the other four, pulls up the tired four, and then continues to run.

Ch. 2, v. 12: "Uzahav ho'oretz ha'hee tov" - And the gold of that land is good - What is so good about that gold? Chizkuni offers that it is of such high quality that copper can be smelted into it and the finished product would still retain a good appearance. Rada"k says that the goodness is that it is very valued and one need only carry a small bit, which is of very little weight, and change it into many cheaper coins with which to purchase. This convenience is "tov."

Ch. 2, v. 13: "Gichon hu hasoveiv eis kol eretz Kush" - Gichon it is the one that encircles all the land of Kush - Rabbi Avrohom ben hoRambam is puzzled. He assumes that the land of Kush is the land of "Chavush" (Abyssinia, Ethiopia) of his day. If so, the river called Gichon in Poras (Persia) cannot be one and the same as in our verse, as the southern Indian Ocean separates them. He offers no answer.

Mo'ore Ho'a'feiloh says that the Gichon goes beyond Kush and enters Egypt, where it is called the "Nilus."

Ch. 2, v. 15: "L'ovdoh ulshomroh" - To work her and to guard her - Since the antecedent of "her" is the "gan," there seems to be a gender conflict, as "gan" is male. Rabbeinu Chaim Paltiel answers that the antecedent is the "nefesh" of Odom, "Va'yikach Hashem Elokim es ho'odom." He was placed into the Garden of Eden and given a mitzvoh, to not consume from a specific tree. This is the "l'ovdoh ulshomroh" of his soul.

Ch. 2, v. 18: "Lo tov he'yose ho'odom l'vado" - It is not good for man to be alone - Man was created to delve into matters of wisdom. Without a wife to run the home and prepare her husband's food and other needs, he would spend at least half a day doing this. (Minchoh V'luloh)

Ch. 3, v. 5: "Ei'neichem" - Your eyes - The word "ayin," an eye, is very similar to "ayon," a wellspring. Our Rabbis taught, "The eye sees and the heart lusts" (see Rashi on Bmidbar 15:39 "v'lo sosuru acha'rei l'vavchem v'acha'rei ei'neichem). The Holy Admor of Kotzk asks, "If the order of events is that the eyes first sees and sends a message to the heart, why does the verse mention not spying after the heart ahead of the eyes." He answers that we must conclude that there is first a lusting of the heart, which in turn causes the eyes to focus upon specific matters, which in turn strengthens the urge, which is sent back to the heart, and this brings to the body acting.

This might well be the connection between "ayin," and "ayon." What the eye sees is based on the urges sent by the hidden organ, the heart. This is very similar to a wellspring. Although we see the water welling in a spring, the wellspring itself is not self-produced. It draws its water from deep underground sources that feed it. (Nirreh li)



See also Oroh V'Simchoh - Meshech Chochmoh on the Weekly Parsha, Chasidic Insights and Chamisha Mi Yodei'a

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