by Zvi Akiva Fleisher
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SEDRAH SELECTIONS PARSHAS BREISHIS 5771 BS"D
Ch. 1, v. 1: "Breishis" - In the beginning of - One of the numerous explanations offered by the M.R. (cited in the Ramban) for the first word of the Torah is "bishvil havo'as bikurim shenikra reishis," that the bringing of "bikurim," the FIRST ripened crop is called "reishis pri ho'adomoh," so too, the creation of the world is described with the word "breishis." The Holy Ari z"l explains that there is a true connection between "bikurim" and the beginning of the world. The world was created in the main to place mankind in it and that he behave properly. Odom was given a wife and when he sinned he blamed his wife, "ho'ishoh ashen nosato imodi." There was more than just shifting the blame to her; there was severe ingratitude. Odom needed a wife and Hashem was kind enough to give him a mate, and yet he added on "asher nosato imodi," that You have given me, intimating that Hashem, so to say, was a partner in the crime, as he supplied the wife who fed him the forbidden fruit.
To correct this sin, the first in history, we likewise take a first, the first ripened fruit, and not only bring it to Yerusholayim, we recite a few verses that include many, many thanks for living in Eretz Yisroel and having been given a successful crop. This is why Rashi stresses in parshas Ki Sovo 26:3 (Sifri #299) that the recitation shows that the farmer is not a "kofuy tovoh," an ingrate.
The mishnoh Bikurim uses a fig as the example of a first ripened fruit. It may well be because the bringing of the first fruit is an atonement for primary man's sin of eating from the forbidden fruit, which was a fig according to one opinion in the gemara Sanhedrin perek Cheilek.
Ch. 2, v. 20: "Vayikra ho'odom sheimos l'chol habheimoh ul'ofe hashomayim ulchole chayas haso'deh" - And the man gave names to all the animals and to the birds of the skies and to all wildlife of the field - Why by the domesticated animals and the wildlife is "kol," all, mentioned, and not by the birds? Why does the verse place birds, whose place is in the sky after the domesticated animals, and only afterwards return to earth dwellers, the wildlife? Any help would be appreciated.
Ch. 2, v. 20: "Vayikra ho'odom sheimos l'chol habheimoh ul'ofe hashomayim ulchole chayas haso'deh" - And the man gave names to all the animals and to the birds of the skies and to all wildlife of the field - The Holy Admor of Belz Sar Sholo-m said that the custom to honour someone with holding the circumcised child when his name is given is sourced from our verse. Hashem brought and held onto each creature that primary man would name. He adds that the custom to honour someone with "amidoh livrochoh," to stand and hold the child during the blessings recited right after the circumcision, is a mistake, as the point of holding the child is only when his name is given, "amidoh likrias hasheim."
Rabbi Naftoli of Litovisk in A'yoloh Shluchoh explains that the name giving is done specifically right after the circumcision and not before, nor a while afterwards, because the words of the previous verse, "V'chol Asher Yikra Lo Ho'odom" contain the letters of Eliyohu, who is the "malach habris" who is present only when the actual circumcision takes place.
Ch. 2, v. 21: "Va'ya'peil Hashem Elokim tardeimoh al ho'odom" - And Hashem Elokim cast a deep sleep on the man - this all took place on the day Odom was created, erev Shabbos. Since this happened to primary man we might possibly say that it has an impact on future generations. There is a custom among many people to spend very late hours into Thursday night, even going into Friday morning studying Torah, some do it with the commentary of the Ohr Hachaim Hakodosh. Naturally, they are very tired on Friday, and yet, they want to be alert on Shabbos Kodesh. They therefore go to sleep for a bit on erev Shabbos. (n.l.)
Ch. 2, v. 22: "Va'y'vi'eho el ho'odom" - And He brought her to Odom - When the Chasam Sofer was eight years old he was asked the following question: How was Odom allowed to take Chavoh as a wife? Marriage requires two witnesses and there were no other people in the world at that time. Without missing a beat the young boy answered that the gemara Kidushin 65 says that the source for needing two witnesses to establish that a marriage has taken place is derived from money matters where the Torah overtly states that two witnesses are required. The gemara then asks, "Since the source is by money matters, why don't we follow through and say that just as by money matters if the defendant admits that he owes money it is binding, so too why can't the admission of a person that he took this particular woman as his wife also be sufficient?" The gemara answers that when one admits to owing money it does not impact negatively on anyone else, while by the issue of marriage, whether or not it took place, could impact negatively on another person, since if we accept that this woman is indeed his wife she is thus prohibited from becoming someone else's wife. Concludes the Chasam Sofer, since Odom and Chavoh were the only two people present in the world there would be no negative impact on anyone if Odom claimed that he took her as his wife.
Ch. 3, v. 19: "B'zei'as a'pecho tochal lechem" - With the sweat of your brow will you eat bread - The medrash says that after this punishment Odom had to plow to be able to have produce grow. However, the results of plowing one time gave him enough food for 40 years. We see from this that although we must work to put food on the table a minimum amount is sufficient to meet the quota of "sweat of your brow." Anything beyond this is not the curse on Odom, but rather, our own self-inflicted curse. (V'ho'ish Moshe)
Ch. 3, v. 19: "B'zei'as a'pecho tochal lechem" - With the sweat of your brow will you eat bread - The verse in Chavakuk 1:11 says, "Vataas odom kidgei ha'yom," You have made mankind as the fish of the sea. The gemara A.Z. 4a says that this means that just as a larger fish swallows a smaller one, so too, one who is stronger than his fellow man would swallow him if not for the fear of retribution by the government.
This could well be a description of how people act towards each other in pursuit of a livelihood. The comparison to fish is a lesson in how to go about this. Although sometimes a larger fish swallows a smaller one by coming from behind, many times the smaller fish senses this and speeds away. However, when a smaller fish swims face to face towards a larger fish it is a lost case and it is almost always swallowed. This is of great benefit for the larger fish. Had it swallowed the smaller fish from behind, the smaller fish's fins would enter raised against the innards of the larger fish and it would cause some damage and surely pain. By swallowing a fish that happened to come its way face to face, the swallowed fish's fins are pressed down as it enters the narrowing insides of the swallower.
There is an immense lesson here for mankind. If one were to run after a meal, a money making opportunity, by sneaking up from behind, he will inevitably suffer from it. However, if he pursues a livelihood by taking advantage of what comes his way, face to face, the resultant profit will have no barbs. (Birkas Avrohom of Slonim)
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