by Zvi Akiva Fleisher
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SEDRAH SELECTIONS PARSHAS BREISHIS 5772 BS"D
Ch. 1, v. 7: "Va'yavdeil Elokim bein hamayim asher mitachas lorokia u'vein hamayim asher mei'al lorokia" - And Elokim divided between the water that was below the firmament and between the water that was above the firmament - The medrash says that we do not find the expression "ki tov" here because divisiveness is negative. This is quite puzzling because in verse four it says, "Va'yar Elokim es ho'ohr ki tov va'yavdeil Elokim bein ho'ohr v'hachoshech." We have "havdoloh" and yet, the verse still says "ki tov." We can be "mavdil" between the two "hovdolos." When there is a division made between light and darkness, concepts that represent two diverse directions, positive and negative, then division is positive and is "tov." However, here in our verse a division is made between waters, both the same items. Such a division cannot carry the description of "tov." (Ma'yonoh Shel Torah)
There is an obvious lesson for us in practical terms. When we separate ourselves from negative societies and influences, it is good. When we separate ourselves from others who are also positive, but we decide we are higher and holier, "mei'al lorokia" than others, this is not "tov."
Ch. 1, v. 9: "Va'yomer Elokim yikovu hamayim el mokome echod v'sei'ro'eh ha'yaboshoh" - And Elokim said let the waters be gathered unto one place, and let the dry land appear - Isn't it self-understood that when water, which until now covered the whole face of the earth, would be gathered into specific areas, that dry areas would become visible? The medrash, based on the word "L'eisono," which appears in the verse that relates that the split waters of Yam Suf should flow again and go back to their strengths (Shmos 14:27), derives from the unusual word "l'eisono" that during the days of creation Hashem stipulated with the waters, "tnai," that it should split when there was a need for the bnei Yisroel to cross through it when the Egyptians were in hot pursuit. We can thus say that this is the intention of these words of our verse. Even though Hashem has told the waters to collect in specific areas, He stipulated, "v'sei'ro'eh ha'yaboshoh," that dry land should appear at a later time IN THE GATHERED WATERS. (Imrei Shefer)
Ch. 3, v. 19: "B'zei'as a'pecho tochal lechem" - With the sweat of your nose will you eat bread - This curse does not apply to everyone. He who works the earth surely sweats a lot at work, but kings and ministers don't. However, the curse to Chavoh, that she will give birth accompanied by many pangs applies to every woman, even a queen. This is because Chavoh sinned more grievously than did Odom. (Rabbeinu Yehudoh Chosid)
Ch. 3, v. 19: "B'zeis a'pecho tochal lechem" - With the sweat of your nose will you eat bread - The gemara Brochos Yerushalmi 6:1, asked explained by commentators there, says that before the sin of Odom finished bread grew from the ground. Hashem originally brought forth bread directly from the ground, and this is expressed by the wording of the brochoh "Hamotzi lechem min ho'oretz." (Mahara"l in N'siv Ho'avodoh chapter #17)
This would seem to answer a question: Why do we recite "bo'rei pri ha'gofen" over wine and not "hamotzi ya'yin min ho'oretz," similar to bread, which is not directly from the ground, but rather, needs much preparation by man just like bread? (n.l.)
Ch. 4, v. 3,4,5: "Va'yo'vei Kayin mipri ho'adomoh, V'Hevel heivi gam hu, Va'yisha Hashem el Hevel …… v'el Kayin …… lo sho'oh" - And Kayin brought from the fruit of the earth, And Hevel also brought, And Hashem turned to Hevel …… and to Kayin …… He did not turn - Why indeed did Hashem not accept Kayin's offerings? Many explanations have been offered. Perhaps "gam hu" is the key to another insight. One can go through the motions of bringing something as an offering to Hashem, but remains unmoved by his donation. It then remains gratuitous and is not accepted. When Hevel brought an offering to Hashem he brought "gam hu," he emotionally threw himself into what he offered, and emotionally became closer to Hashem (korban = closeness). (n.l.)
Ch. 4, v. 15: "Va'yo'sem Hashem l'Kayin ose" - And Hashem placed for Kayin a sign - M.R. 22:12 explains that this means that Hashem gave him a dog. This can be understood in light of the details the M.R. relates about the incident of Kayin and Hevel. Hevel was stronger than kayin, and when Kayin befell him, Hevel overpowered him and threw him to the ground and intended to kill him. Kayin pleaded for his life and Hevel relented. Kayin then caught Hevel by surprise and killed him, the ultimate act of ingratitude. A dog is the paradigm of devotion to its owner even if it subsists on a few morsels its owner throws its way. Kayin being tethered to a dog is a continual reminder that even a dog has more gratitude and dedication to its owner than he had to his brother.
The M.R. offers an alternative explanation of the "sign," a letter Vov.
1) Rabbi Meir Shapiro of Lublin explains that the letter Vov is "shimushi," a function with no self-value. It is either a conjunctive meaning "and" or it reverses the tense of a verb. The M.R, says that the argument that broke out between them was about splitting this world. If this brought to a fight that ended fatally it is obvious that Kayin was totally engrossed in wanting much for himself. This self-centeredness required strong medicine, in the form of a letter Vov, a constant reminder of functioning for another.
2) The letter Vov in "milluy" is spelled Vov-Yud-Vov, an acronym for "Va'yishman Y'shurun Va'yivot," - And Yeshurun became fattened and kicked, meaning that as a result of his having such an abundance of good he turned sour. (Yalkut haGeirshuni) 3) Based on Kaboloh, the letter Vov represents the kernel of Heavenly truth, which above is a Yud, descending to our lower world, hence the extension of its leg. As it comes down further and further its truth becomes more hidden, "tzimtzum," and this is why the leg is to be written thinner and thinner as it goes down. Hashem appeared to Kayin and asked him where Hevel was. Kayin thought that Hashem was not aware of all that took place on our physical earth and answered, "Lo yodoti," an attempt at hiding something from Hashem, as explained by Rashi. He therefore received as a sign, the letter Vov, a constant reminder that Hashem's supervision and involvement exists even in our physical world. (n.l.)
Ch. 5, v. 5: "Va'yi'h'yu kol y'mei Odom asher chai" - And all the days of Odom which he lived were - "Asher chai" seems superfluous, ans we similarly find this by the tallying of Avrohom's years in 25:7. The GR"A and others explain that Odom and Avrohom originally were to live longer, but Odom gave away 70 years of his life for King Dovid (M.R. parshas Nosso) and Avrohom died prematurely so that he not suffer from seeing that Eisov had gone off the proper path M.R. parshas Toldos). This is "asher chai," which he actually lived, although he was originally allotted more years.
This gives us an insight into "z'miros Shabbos" where we sing "Lu yichyeh g'var shini alfin," - has primary man, Odom, lived a thousand years, "lo yei'ol gvurteich b'chush'b'na'ya," Hashem, Your strengths would not have been enumerated by King Dovid. (Rabbi Chaim Shoul Small, London)
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