by Zvi Akiva FleisherBack to this week's Parsha | Previous Issues
PARSHAS BREISHIS 5760 BS"D
Ch. 1, v. 1: "Breishis" - As an opener for the beginning of the Torah: The parshios of the Torah as they are written today are either "p'suchoh" or "s'sumom," meaning that depending on the configuration of the spacing before a new chapter, a parsha either has the status of an "open" or "closed" parsha. What is the status of parshas Breishis, since it is the beginning of the Torah and has nothing before it?
The Rambam at the end of ch. 8 of hilchos sefer Torah lists all the parshios of the Torah that are called "p'suchos," and then lists all the parshios that are "s'sumos." He leaves out the chapter of Breishis as well as every first chapter of the other four books of the Torah. The kesef Mishneh comments that the Rambam feels that these first chapters have neither status as they are a beginning. The last four books of the Torah follow four blank lines and are considered a beginning.
The Shulchan Oruch Y.D. #272:4 says that when one writes the final words of the Torah, he should space the writing so that the final three words "l'einei kol Yisroel" are the only words written on the last line, that they should be on the bottom line of the final column, and that there should be space left at the end of the line (of at least nine Yud-width spaces). The Pis'chei Teshuvoh s.k. #4 brings the opinion of the T'shuvos B'eir Sheva #67 that if the words "l'einei kol Yisroel" end at the far left of the line, leaving no space, the sefer Torah is rendered not kosher. This needs clarification since there is seemingly no reason for this lack of spacing to invalidate the Torah since there is no writing afterwards for this lack of space to change its status. Indeed, the Rambam does not mention this as one of the twenty things that invalidate a Torah.
Possibly, there is a school of thought other than the Rambam's and we should not consider Breishis as the beginning of the Torah with nothing preceding it. So as to not have an end to the Torah, it can be viewed as a continuum, the end running into the beginning. This would explain the need for specific spacing before the word Breishis. This is the space after the last words of the Torah, and if there is no space, this would be a case of not having a space where required, which the Rambam does mention as something that invalidates the Torah.
The final letter of the Torah is a Lamed and the first is a Beis. these two letters spell the word "leiv." If we consider the Torah a continuum as just mentioned, then the Lamed appears earlier to the right and the Beis to the left. When studying Torah books in their original Loshon Hakodesh, one reads from right to left as he proceeds. Only when one reviews does he look to the right. A wise person knows that to retain the information that he has studied, he must continually review. This might be the meaning of the verse "Leiv chochom limino" (Koheles 10:2), a wise man looks to the right to review, just as the word "leiv," spelled Lamed-Beis indicates looking back to the end of the Torah before proceding from the beginning.
Continuing with the theme of the beginning of the Torah being a continuum of the end, the gemara Megiloh 9a relates that king Ptolmy segregated 72 Jewish elders and demanded that they each write the exact text of the Torah. Hashem put into the mind of each of them to change certain words so that Ptolmy should not scoff at the Torah. The first change was "Breishis boro Elokim," which they changed to "Elokim boro breishis," so that Ptolmy should not incorrectly say that a being called "breishis" ch"v created Elokim. Since there is no matter which is not hinted to in the Torah, possibly this event is alluded to in the last words and the first words of the Torah. "L'einei kol Yisroel breishis boro Elokim" - In front of the eyes of bnei Yisroel the words of the Torah should appear as "Breishis boro Elokim." However for Ptolmy who is not of the bnei Yisroel, "YoShoR AL breishis boro Elokim" - Do not right the words "Breishis boro Elokim" in the straight order. The word YiSRAeL is spelled Yud-Sin-Reish-Alef-Lamed, which when split after the Reish can spell the words YoShoR AL.
Ch. 1, v. 1: "Eis hashomayim v'eis ho'oretz" - There is a disagreement between Beis Shamai and Beis Hillel in the gemara Tomid 32a which was created first, the heavens or the earth. Beis Shamai says that the heavens were created first, as indicated by the order of the words of our verse. However, Beis Hillel disagrees and says that the earth was created first, as indicated by the order of the words in 2:4, "b'yom asose Hashem Elokim eretz v'shomoyim."
The Ari z"l says that Beis Shamai embodies the characteristic of strictness, midas hadin, while Beis Hillel embodies the characteristic of mercy, midas horachamim.
Rashi points out that in 1:1 it says that Elokim, the name of Hashem which denotes midas hadin, created the world, while in 2:4 it says that Hashem Elokim, denoting both mercy and strictness created the world. He answers that Hashem originally planned to create the world with strictness, indicated by the use of the name Elokim, but concluded that it would not be able to exist under such conditions, and therefore added the name of mercy, Hashem, to the creation.
Since Beis Shamai is of the school of strictness, they stressed the verse which indicates the creation of the world with strictness, which mentions the creation of the heavens before the earth, and concluded that the heavens were created first.
Beis Hillel, being of the school of mercy, stressed the verse which tells us of the creation of the world through a joint characteristic of strictness and mercy. That verse mentions the creation of the earth first, and brought Beis Hillel to the conclusion that the earth was created first.
Perhaps this disagreement can be explained with another view of the disagreements between Beis Shamai and Beis Hillel. There is an insight which explains many of the disagreements between Beis Shamai and Beis Hillel. Beis Shamai judges matters according to their potential while Beis Hillel judges according to the reality. Since Hashem originally planned to create the world with strict judgement, this is considered the reality. Verse 1 of the Torah mentions Hashem's original plan, the potential of the world to be run with strictness. Possibly, this is why the word BORO is used, BRIOH connotating a celestial early level of formation that is not yet physical, again a potential. As well, the heavens symbolize the great heights and potential to which a person can reach.This verse mentions the creation of the heavens first.
Beis Hillel, on the other hand, judges matters according to reality only. In actuality,Hashem created the world with a mixture of DIN and RACHAMIM as indicated in 2:4. The earth symbolizes the reality of the existence of man, in a state of physicality. This verse uses the term ASOSE, ASIOH connotating a complete physical creation. (See the sefer Tanya which explains the four levels of creation, Atzilus, Brioh, Y'tziroh, and Asioh.) This verse mentions the creation of the earth first.
Ch. 1, v. 16: "Es shnei hamorose hagdolim" - These words relate to us the creation of the sun and the moon. The gemara Shabbos 88b says that those who display the following three traits are called the friends of Hashem and are equated to the sun which goes out and sheds light on the world with its great valour, "V'ohavov k'tzeis hashemesh bigvuroso" (Shoftim 5:31). The three traits of the sun are:
1) "Ha'ne'elovim v'einom olvim" - Those who are shamed but do not shame others
2) "Shomim cherposom v'einom meishivim" - Who hear words of derision about themselves but do not respond
3) "Osim mei'ahavoh u's'meichim b'yisurim" - fulfill their responsibilities and are happy even when they suffer pain.
We find the second trait displayed by the sun in the gemara Chulin 60b which relates that the sun and moon were originally of equal size. The moon complained to Hashem that there should only be one master for each task. How can the sun and the moon both be equal illuminators of the world? Hashem responded by reducing the size of the moon. We find a reference to this in the words of kidush hachodesh, "kodem miutoh."
What was the sun doing while this dialogue was taking place? It was "Shomaas cherposoh v'einoh meishivoh" - It heard words of derision about itself but did not respond.
We also find the third trait displayed by the sun in the gemara N'dorim 39b which relates that the sun said to Hashem (The Ra"N explains that this took place at the time that Korach began his rebellion against the leadership of Moshe.) that if He would not take up the case for the son of Amrom, in protest it would not rise and shine the next morning. Hashem responded, "For My honour you do not threaten to go on strike, even though it is directly connected to you, as idol worshippers diefy you, and for the honour of a flesh and blood person you do not want to fulfill your responsibility!" Hashem took arrows and spears and struck the sun, forcing it to rise every morning, as is indicated by a verse in Chabakuk (3:11). In spite of being struck daily with spears and arrows, the sun happily fulfills its obligations, as we say or sing in the Shabbos morning prayer of Keil Odone, "S'meichim b'tzeisom v'sosim b'vo'om."
However, where do we find the first trait mentioned above - "Ha'ne'elovim v'einom olvim" - Those who are shamed but do not shame others? I await your response. The answer I have seen does not require knowledge of the Torah, Talmud, Medrash, etc.
Ch. 1, v. 27: "Va'yivro es ho'odom" - The gemara Sanhedrin 38b asks why the primary man, odom, was created on the eve of Shabbos and not earlier. It answers that Hashem wanted to first have sustenance prepared for man's survival. There is a birkas hamozone booklet with the commentary of Rabbi Noson Shapiro. He says that this is the intention of the passage in the first blessing, "u'meichin mozone l'chol briosov asher boro." Hashem first prepares sustenance for the creatures whom he has created.
Ch. 3, v. 16: "Itzvoneich v'heironeich" - The gemara Eiruvin 100b says that "itzvoneich" refers to the difficulty of raising children, while "heironeich" refers to the difficulty of pregnancy. Why is the order switched? Pregnancy comes before raising children. Rabbi Michel Stern shlit"a answers that Chavoh had already given birth to Kayin and Hevel before Hashem imposed this punishment. The previous pregnancy and birth was without any hardship. However, the raising of these children was in progress before Chavoh's next pregnancy. Hence her difficulties in child rearing would take place before the difficulties of future pregnancies.
Back to this week's Parsha | Previous Issues
This article is provided as part of Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Permission is granted to redistribute electronically or on paper,
provided that this notice is included intact.
For information on subscriptions, archives, and
other Shema Yisrael Classes,
send mail to email@example.com