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by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

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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'sumoh," 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 proceeding 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 write 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. 27: "Va'yivro es ho'odom" - The gemara Sanhedrin 38b asks why 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. 4, v. 5: "Va'yomer Kayin el Hevel ochiv" - And Kayin said to Hevel his brother - Our verse does not tell us what he said. Medrash Bmidbar Raboh 22 says that Hevel was much stronger than Kayin. Had Kayin attempted to overpower Hevel and to kill him, Kayin would have been subdued. His ploy was to always act very brotherly, "ochiv." Thus Hevel's guard was down and Kayin caught him by surprise and killed him. (GR"A)

Ch. 4, v. 13: "Va'yomer Kayin el Hashem godol avoni minso" - And Kayin said to Hashem is my sin too great to bear - What kind of question is this? Of course his sin was grievous, killing his own brother, destroying one fourth of the world's population, and being the first murderer in the world!

We must understand his words not as a question but as a statement. Had Kayin not been subjected to wandering he could have had the clarity of mind to contemplate the depth of his sin and repented, as repenting is accepted for even the worst sin. He complained to Hashem that he could not muster up a proper teshuvoh because he was always on the go. (Holy Admor of Kotzk)

Ch. 5, v. 24: "Va'yis'haleich Chanoch es hoElohim v'ei'nenu" - And Chanoch walked with Elokim and he is not here - Rashi comments that Chanoch was righteous but he was vulnerable to turn away from the correct path and to possibly become evil. Therefore Hashem took him away, i.e. he died. There are many righteous people and Hashem allows them to live to a ripe old age. Why was Chanoch at greater risk? An answer is offered that is contrary to some conventional thinking. The mishnoh in Pirkei Ovos chapter 5 says that he who brings merit to the masses is protected from sinning. Our verse says that Chanoch walked with Elokim, meaning that for fear of being negatively influenced by his surroundings he became an isolationist, walking only with Elokim. He thus did not bring merit to the masses. He was therefore more vulnerable to sinning, and Hashem removed him from this ephemeral world while he was still virtuous. (Chasam Sofer) Another explanation is offered by Rabbi Shlomo haLevi Karliner. Rashi's words are "V'kal b'daato loshuv ulharshia." Chanoch was so virtuous that when he came into contact with a sinful person he readily brought the person to such a level of teshuvoh that the person would not return to his sinful ways. This took away free will from so many people that he had to be removed from this world. Rabbi Meir Premishlaner offers that Chanoch was so holy that when others in his generation would be compared to him they would be considered sinful. "See how holy and righteous Chanoch is. You could have done much better." This is why he had to be taken from this world.



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

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