by Zvi Akiva Fleisher
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SEDRAH SELECTIONS PARSHAS BREISHIS 5768 BS"D
Ch. 1, v. 3: "Va'y'hi ohr" - And there was light - Upon the creation of other things the verse says "va'y'hi chein." That expression means that the creation remained the same, always functioning the same as at the time it was created. However, the special "light" at the time of creation was hidden, so that it would not be misused in the future by evil people. Since it did not remain the same the word "chein" was not used. (Mo'ore Vosho'mesh)
Ch. 1, v. 5: "Va'y'hi erev va'y'hi' boker" - And it was night and it was day - The word "erev" is used for evening and night because it becomes dark and ones sight is very limited. Different objects become "mixed up" one with another. They cannot readily be differentiated. (Ibn Ezra)
A raven is very black, and therefore is called "oreiv" similar to night. (Rabbeinu Myuchos)
"Boker" is the term used for the morning, when it is light and one can readily discern, be "m'va'keir," one item from another. (Ibn Ezra)
Ch. 1, v. 13: "Va'y'hi erev va'y'hi boker yom shlishi" - And it was the evening and it was the morning of the third day - Why are this and the same statement by the fourth and fifth days complete verses, while by the other days of creation it is only part of the verse?
Ch. 1, v. 25: "Es chayas ho'oretz" - The wildlife of the land - The word "es" includes the creation of the snake. It originally was both an herbivore and a carnivore. We thus understand that when it was cursed the verse says, "Orur atoh mikol hab'heimoh umikol chayas haso'deh." (Rokei'ach)
Ch. 1, v. 26: "Naa'seh odom" - Let us make man - There are four levels of creation, "atzilus, brioh, y'tziroh, "asioh," from the highest downward. The creation of man encompasses all four. Our verse says "naa'seh," another verse says, "va'yeetzer Hashem Elokim es ho'odom," another, "va'yivra Elokim es ho'odom," and another, "v'otzalti min horuach asher o'lecho." (Kol Simchoh)
Ch. 1, v. 27: "Va'yivra Elokim es ho'odom b'tzalmo" - And Elokim created the man in His form - Ovos d'Rebbi Noson derives from "b'tzalmo" that Odom was created circumcised.
Ch. 1, v. 27: "B'tzalmo" - In His form - The Sforno in his commentary on T'hilim says that creation in Hashem's form means that man is given the choice of doing good or otherwise.
Ch. 1, v. 28: "Umilu es ho'oretz v'chivshuhoh" - And fill the land and master over her - Haksav V'hakaboloh explains "umilu" to mean to fill the earth with objects that aid man's functioning, such as plows, etc. However, with these items that make life easier and easier there is the fear that one's evil inclination will take over and push him to pursue a life filled with ease and pursuit of pleasures. "V'chivshuhoh" is an exhortation to master over the evil inclination. (Why this word has a feminine pronoun suffix requires explanation.)
Ch. 2, v. 7: "Va'y'hi ho'odom l'nefesh chayoh" - And man became a living soul - Even though man was created from the earth itself, he is a "nefesh chayoh," capable of turning the earthiness into such great spirituality that it can be elevated to the point that it reaches Hashem's Holy Throne, as the verse says by Yaakov, "Va'yei'o'veik ish imo," and our Rabbis interpret this to mean that the dust of the earth, "ovok," ascended to the "Ki'sei Hakovod." The dust from which man was created is capable of reaching such heights. (Ksav Sofer)
Ch. 2 , v. 15: "L'ovdoh ulshomroh" - To work it and to guard it - What working and guarding are required? Trees grow by themselves, and as far as watering goes, there was a river that flowed from Gan Eden. Pirkei d'Rebbi Eliezer and Targum Yonoson ben Uziel answer that "to work it" means to study Torah, and to guard it means to fulfill the Torah's precepts. Sifri says that "to work it" refers to the positive mitzvos, and "to guard it" means to guard against transgressing the negative mitzvos.
Ramban answers that Odom was commanded to plant grain in the space between the trees.
Ch. 2, v. 17: "U'mei'eitz hadaas tov voro lo sochal mi'menu ki b'yom acholcho mi'menu mose tomus" - And from the tree of wisdom good and bad do not partake of it because on the day of your eating from it you shall surely die - The snake told Chavoh that she was forbidden to even touch the tree, and he then proceeded to push her against the tree with no negative results. Once she experienced no bad results he more easily seduced her into eating of its fruit.
Was there a prohibition to not touch the tree or was it a total fabrication? The N'tzi"v says that since the verse expresses the prohibition with "mei'eitz" we can derive that there was also a prohibition against touching its wood, since "eitz" literally means TREE. Thus the snake told the truth, except that his adding that the death penalty was for touching it was not accurate. Only eating of its fruits was liable for the death penalty.
Ch. 2, v. 23: "L'zose yiko'rei ishoh ki mei'ish lukochoh zose" - To this one ishoh will it be called because she was taken from man - This explains why she was not called "Adomoh," a female derivative of "Odom." Man was given the appellation "Odom" because he was created from "adomoh," but woman was taken from "ish" and therefore is called "ishoh." (Gishmei Vrochoh)
Ch. 2, v. 24: "Al kein yaazove ish es oviv v'es imo v'dovak b'ishto" - Therefore man will forsake his father and his mother and will cleave in his wife - Rabbi Moshe Feinstein explains that when there is a conflict between tending to the needs of a spouse with the needs of a parent, the spouse's needs take priority. This is because our verse states that man should cleave in his wife. This includes the emotional feeling of each spouse being the primary person in the other one's life.
Ch. 3, v. 1: "V'hanochosh hoyoh orum mikole chayas haso'deh" - And the snake was more clever than any other animal of the wild - These words indicate that all animals of the wild, "chayos," are clever, and the snake was the most clever. Hashem created domesticated animals with the nature of being subservient to people, allowing themselves to be used, either as beasts of burden or for their bodies. At the same time their owners supply them with sustenance. Animals of the wild are not subservient to mankind and at times go hungry. However, their sustenance comes directly from Hashem. (Mei Hashilo'ach Admor of Ishbitz)
This might explain why some halachic authorities say that there is a spiritual advantage to use deer hides over domesticated animal hides for parchment of Holy Scripts, since they rely more on Hashem for their sustenance. (Nirreh li)
Ch. 4, v. 7: "Im teitiv s'eis" - If you will be good it can be borne - This is the common translation. However, the Chizkuni has a novel understanding of these words. "S'eis" is sourced from "Va'yiso masos miponov," meaning a present. If you, Kayin, will offer good quality as your present to Hashem and not offer leftovers (then you will be forgiven).
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