by Zvi Akiva Fleisher
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IN HONUR OF THE BRISOS OF OUR TWO GRANDSONS CHAIM BEN REB AVROHOM AND SHOLO-M BEN REB YOEL YEHOSHUA ON 12 TISHREI
SEDRAH SELECTIONS PARSHAS BREISHIS 5770 BS"D
Ch. 1, v. 1: "Breishis" - In the beginning - The Shabbos on which we read our parsha is commonly called Shabbos Breishis. This is most unusual, as we don't say Shabbos Noach, Shabbos Lech L'cho, etc. The holiest days of the year have just culminated. Everyone has accepted upon himself numerous resolutions for change and improvement. When we have reached Shabbos Breishis we must realize that the past is in the past, and we are embarking on a new beginning, Breishis. (Divrei Yechezkel of Shinov)
Ch. 1, v. 1: "Breishis boro" - In the beginning of the creation of - Rashi says, "Ein hamikra ha'zeh o'meir ela dorsheini," - this verse does not say anything except interpret me homiletically. This seems to be a double negative, and Rashi could have said that the verse says that it should be interpreted homiletically. This teaches us a most powerful lesson. Right at the beginning of the Torah Rashi points out that it is impossible to understand the Torah just in the literal sense. To stress this Rashi says that this verse has no simple "pshat," which one might consider as Torah "shebiksav," but rather, requires Torah "sheb'al peh." Although Rashi does afterwards offer a "pshat," he does this only to give somewhat of an understanding "al pi pshat," but the verse does not say "Breishis b'ro." See B'eir Yoseif who says this and much more. Rashi comments, "Bishvil haTorah shenikras reishis darko (Mishlei 8:22) uvishvil Yisroel shenikru reishis tvu'osoh (Yirmiyohu 2:3)." This could be Beis-reishis, there are two factors in the beginning of creation, the actual Torah, and Yisroel, i.e. the sages' interpretation of the Torah, called Torah sheb'al peh."
Ch. 1, v. 5: "Erev" - Evening - The reason the night is called "erev" is because the day is totally light, with no darkness intermingled. However, the night is not pitch black. The moon, stars and other celestial bodies lend some light, hence "erev," a mixture. (Bchor Shor)
It seems that Rabbi Yoseif Bchor Shor equated "erev" with "lailoh."
Ch. 1, v. 8: "Vayikra Elokim lorokia shomoyim" - And Elokim called the spread firmament heavens - Why not call the heavens "rokiim," based on "rokia?" The Kli Yokor answers that "rokia" connotes divisiveness, a negative attribute, while "shomayim" connotes "aish" and "mayim," a very positive attribute. This is because water extinguishes fire and fire turns water into a gas. Nevertheless, in the heavens they co-exist. Hashem wanted to give the heavens this appellation so that mankind can learn from the heavens to peacefully co-exist.
Notwithstanding this concept, the Rokei'ach writes that "ki tov" does not appear for the creations of the second day because of the inherent disunity of the firmaments dividing between the upper and lower waters (M.R. 4:6). On the first day we find that Hashem separated between the light and the darkness, giving each one its designated time to function, and yet, we do find "ki tov" there (v. 4). Mayan haTorah answers that when we separate between waters, which intrinsically one, separation is a negative concept. When we have two diametrically opposed concepts, such as light and darkness, separation is good.
We might answer that "ki tov" is mentioned when light was created and darkness was not yet mentioned. Only afterwards is darkness dealt with, and from that point on there is no 'ki tov."
Ch. 1, v. 1: "BreishiS borrO ElokiM" - In the beginning of Hashem's creation - The Baal haturim points out that the final letters of these three words spell EMeS, truth. This is alluded to in thee verse in T'hilim 119:160, "Rosh d'vorcho emes," that the head of Your words, i.e. the first words of the Torah, contain EMeS.
We might add that this allusion to truth is placed at the end of the three words to teach us that even if we begin a statement with truth, but veer off, even just at the end, it is not truth. Truth has to be consistent to the end.
Once on the subject of "emes" being "Rosh d'vorcho," based on the words of the Holy Zohar in his preface to Breishis page 16 where he relates that the letters of the Alef-Beis came to Hashem, starting from the last letter Tof, and so on in reverse order, each stating its case for having the Torah begin with it, we have a new insight. Hashem disqualified each letter until the Beis appeared, and Hashem accepted it as the first letter. The Alef then came and said that it didn't even have a chance to present itself. Hashem responded that it would be used to begin the Ten Commandments, in the awe-inspiring word ONOCHI. This was the covenant between Hashem and the bnei Yisroel, and of itself a sort of beginning. We can this say that the written Torah begins with an Alef. The mishnoh begins with a Mem, "Mei'eimosai," and the gemara begins with a Tof, "Tana." These three letters of three beginnings are "Rosh d'vorcho EMeS." (ro'isi)
Ch. 4, v. 5: "Va'yisha Hashem el Hevel v'el minchoso v'el Kayin v'el minchoso lo sho'oh" - And Hashem turned to Hevel and his offering and to Kayin and his offering He did not turn - Why didn't Hashem graciously accept Kayin's offering just as He did Hevel's? Kayin was happily immersed in pursuit of his livelihood, making it his priority in life, as indicated by the words "V'Kayin HOYOH oveid adomoh" (verse2). "V'hoyoh" is an expression of happiness (gemara Megiloh). Hevel, on the other hand, although he also pursued a livelihood, did it as a necessary fact of life, as indicated by the words "VA'Y'HI Hevel Rokei'ach'eh tzone." This attitude made the difference. (The Holy Rabbi Yisroel of Ruzhin)
There seems to be an indication for this insight, that their personages played a role in our verse. It does not say that Hashem turned to Hevel's offering and did not turn to Kayin's offering. Rather, our verse says that Hashem turned to Hevel and his offering and did not turn to Kayin and his offering. This demonstrates that it was not just the matter of the offering, but also the person. (n.l.)
Ch. 4, v. 13: "Godol avoni minso" - Is my sin too great to bear - In Sh.O. O.Ch. 124:7 it says that one who speaks during the "shliach tzibur's" repetition of the "amidoh," is a sinner and "godol avono minso." This is most startling, as we find this expression here by Kayin's questioning the weight of his sin of murder. How can we compare just schmoozing during "chazoras hasha'tz" to this most grievous sin? Rabbi Shlomo the Admor of Bobov answers that when the "sha'tz" repeats the "amidoh" among his blessings are those for healing of the sick and foiling the diabolical plans of those who scheme against the bnei Yisroel. The merit of a congregation answering "omein" to these blessings is very powerful. This congregational response surely brings recovery to many of the sick and thwarts the evil plans of those who want to ch"v do away with us. One who talks at this time disturbs the congregation and keeps numerous people from answering "omein." This is somewhat akin to bringing death to people who could have been spared.
Ch. 5, v. 24: "Va'yis'haleich Chanoch es hoElokim v'einenu ki lokach oso Elokim" - And Chanoch brought himself to walk with Elokim and he is no more because Elokim took him - Rashi says, "Tzadik hoyoh v'kal b'daato l'harshia v'silko kodem zmano," - he was righteous and it was easy in his thinking to become evil, and Elokim removed him. This is most puzzling. If he was truly righteous why was there a fear that he might readily turn onto a bad path? Marg'nisa d'Rebbi Meir answers that Rashi's intention in quite different from how we just translated his words. The main point is that Rashi says "l'harshia," to make others evil, not li'h'Yoseif rosho," that he become evil. Chanoch's extreme righteousness showed the rest of the generation in a bad light in relation to him (see Rashi on Lote's departure from Avrohom). "He was righteous and it was readily a possibility in comparison to his exalted mind to cause others to be considered evil in comparison."
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