Our Parshat HaShevua — Breish’t is being sponsored by Jonathan and Debbie Sassen of Ramat Beit Shemesh who wish all of the children a wonderful winter z’man. To the Sassen family, many thanks for your sponsorship and for your continued kindnesses.
You can celebrate a Simcha — a birth, a Bar/Bat Mitzvah, a Chassuna or other Simcha event in your life, or commemorate a
Yahrtzeit of a loved one, or for whatever other reason by sponsoring (or as the case may be, co-sponsoring) a Parshat HaShevua.
Please be in contact with me with any questions, or for further details.
Somehow, not being rabbinic or a Talmud Chacham, it has always seemed difficult to put a true and deep meaning of Hashem’s creation to words to express the continuim that is the end and the beginning of Torah. But, in 5774, where Shabbos Parshat Breish’t follows on the heels of Simchat Torah, merely one day after, the continuim is clearly visible. Such being the case, chances are that even those who have traveled here from Chutz L’Aretz for Succot will experience the continuim while still here (their Simchat Torah is Friday followed by Shabbos Parshat Breish’t). The red-eye special will have to wait ’til early morning of yom rishon.
Hashem’s expression of creation in Sefer Breish’t, Perek 1, posuk 1; “Breish’t, Bora, Kelokim eit HaShemayim v’eit Ha’Aretz” (”In the beginning, Hashem created the heavens and the earth”) surely wasn’t referring to that parody of Major League Baseball; you know the one, ‘In the big inning.’
As religious Jews, we understand that Hashem continuously, instantaneously creates and recreates.
And we ought also to internalize and remember, not merely give lip-service to, the connection Torah makes (Sefer Breish’t, Perek 1, posuk 1), between B’nai Yisrael and Eretz Yisrael right from jump-street, as expressed by Rashi’s citing of R’ Yitzchak on “Breish’t, Bora, Kelokim eit HaShemayim v’eit Ha’Aretz” (The Sapirstein Edition, The Torah With Rashi’s Commentary, Sefer Breish’t, page 2):
“[Hashem] need not have begun the Torah [“Breish’t” — ‘In the Beginning of’] — but from ‘This month shall be for you [the beginning of months]’ because it is the first commandment which Israel was commanded. What was the reason that He began with Sefer Breish’t? It began thus because He wished to convey the message… ‘The power of His acts He Told to His people in order to give them the estate [inheritance] of the nations.’ If the nations of the world say to Israel, ‘You are bandits, for you conquered the lands of the seven nations,’ [Israel] will say to them: ‘The whole earth belongs to the Holy One, Blessed is He. He created it and He gave it to the one proper in His eyes.’ By His wish He gave it to them, and by His wish, He took it from them and gave it to us.”
To those Israelis, who passionately crave the “Normal Life” — normal like any other nation, any other people — and who are, as Olmert put it on the heels of his and Sharon’s expulsion of their, our fellow Jews, “tired of fighting, tired of winning…” and who are thus confused as to who they are, why there is an Israel and why they are here, this Rashi with the citing of R. Yitzchak, seems more than appropo.
Once having expressed creation of Heaven, Earth, the land and seas and all animals and plant life as well as the universe, Hashem turns to the creation of man. Rav Shimshon Rafael Hirsch z’l (the New Hirsch Chumash, Sefer Breish’t, pages 2-3) provides commentary on both the creation of the universe and the creation of man:
The free and almighty Will of Hashem created matter and caused… forces to act upon it, and His Will set the laws by which forms are fashioned.
And just as Hashem rules freely over His world, so has He Made man master over his small world. Hashem breathed into man a spark of His Own free essence, so that man should freely master his body and its forces…. He placed man as an image of G’d in a world governed by His omnipotence.
The world that was created is not the best one that can be fashioned with the given material; rather it is the only good world. This world — with all its seeming flaws — corresponds with the wise plan of the Creator. The possibility of sinning is part of his (man’s) moral perfection; it is a basic condition for his moral freedom. Both, the world and man, will reach the highest ideal of the good because Hashem… has created them both… in accordance with His free and unlimited Will. He could have created a different creation, a different world and a different man, had this served the purpose that He set before them in freedom.
Rebbetzin Shira Smiles adds, in her sefer “Torah Tapestries” on Sefer Breish’t (pages 2-4):
Knowing that Hashem, all-knowing and deliberate in action, created and continues to create us, it becomes clear that every individual has been placed in this world with a unique mission. Hashem has clearly invested in man. …To make that day’s investment worthwhile, each day we must work to discover or to further our mission.
Every day we are partnered with Hashem to develop ourselves to the maximum.
Due to the fact that we are human, there are times when we get off course or go in the wrong direction.
Hashem has built into life the possibility of teshuvah (reparation of sins). Without it, we would have no way to take on the new day if we ever erred. Because teshuvah exists, we have the opportunity and the responsibility to correct our course.
This teshuvah process, as exemplified by the Hebrew letter Hei (ה), enables us to correct and perfect ourselves.
Sefer Shem Mishmuel (by R’ Shmuel Bornstein, as translated by R’ Zvi Belovski — ) quotes Sefer Breish’t Perek 2, posuk 4:
“These are the generations of the heavens and the earth on the day when they were created…”
The word used for “they were created” is b’hibaram written with a small letter hei (ה). This suggests that… Hashem created the world with the letter hei.
Shem Mishmuel then cites the great Rebbe of Alexander regarding man’s nature, the letter Hei and teshuvah:
The Hebrew word for nature is “teva”, literally, “sunk.” Indeed, the same word could be used to describe a ship sinking at sea…. Man’s aim is to break out of the confines of this natural and apparently G’dless prison and to set his sights on… bringing apirituality to himself and the world.
Mankind is naturally like the hei! Without effort, we would follow our natural inclination to be wicked, sunk in the dross of a purely physical existence.
He also cites Mishnayot Menachos 29b and Breish’t Rabbah 12:10:
Why is the leg of the hei hanging? [Why doesn’t it reach from top to bottom rather than leaving a small gap near the top?] To hint at the ba’al teshuvah who, having fallen out of the bottom, can re-enter through this small gap.
And so Hashem Created and Recreates everything and designates a piece of His creation — Eretz Yisrael, as home for His chosen nation — the B’nai Yisrael: the Jewish people. And although we’ve often veered off Hashem’s course, we always have within reach that opportunity, that letter hei (ה) known as teshuvah to bring us back, to drawn us close, closer to our Creator and to eventually perfect ourselves in Our Land — Eretz Yisrael.
May we, the B’nai Yisrael be zocha that our brethren — the refugee families from Gush Katif be permanently settled and be made totally whole — be totally restituted for all that was stolen from them at leftist-agendized, supreme court legalized gunpoint. May our hearts yearn that Hashem see sufficient merit in all of us to justify Jonathan Pollard’s and Sholom Rubashkin’s liberation and return to us, and may the other MIAs be liberated alive and returned to us in ways befitting Al Kiddush Hashem. May we have the courage and strength to stand up and physically prevent the possibility of Chas V’Challila any future eviction of Jews from their homes and the handing of Jewish land over to anyone, let alone to enemies sworn to Israel’s and Judaism’s destruction and eradication. May we fulfill Hashem’s blueprint of B’nai Yisrael as a Unique people — an Am Segula, not to be reckoned with as with “the nations” and may we be zocha to see the Moshiach, the Ge’ula Shlaima, as Dov Shurin sings; “Ki Karov Yom Hashem V’Kol HaGoyim”, the Ultimate Redemption, bim hay v’yameinu — speedily, in our time”, — Achshav, Chik Chuk, Miyad, Etmol!!
Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.