by Zvi Akiva Fleisher
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SEDRAH SELECTIONS PARSHAS BREISHIS 5775 BS"DCh. 1, v. 1: “Breishis” – In the beginning – The Torah begins with the letter Beis. The configuration of this letter at the start of the Torah teaches us a major lesson. The words of the Torah are written from right to left, thus the right is earlier and the left is later. Do not delve into what was before the world was created, just as there is a vertical stroke on the right side of the letter Beis. Do not delve too much into grasping Hashem, what is above, just as there is a horizontal stroke at the top. Do not delve too deeply into what is below, i.e. negative powers in the world, just as there is a horizontal stroke at the bottom. Our efforts have to go into the left side, going forward, just as the left side of the letter is open. Although the gemara Chagigoh 11b says that one should also not delve into the future, this means to not divine into the future.
Ch. 1, v. 1: "Breishis boro Elokim ES" - The M.R. Breishis 18:4 says that Hashem created the world with the power of the letters of the Alef Beis. Commentators say that this is alluded to in the first words of the Torah, as the word ES is spelled Alef-Sof, indicating that the creation came about with the energy of all the letters from Alef through Tof. As well, the Rabbis have stated in numerous places that the world as we know it will stand for 6,000 years.
The Shach in his commentary on parshas B'har brings a most magnificent connection between these two concepts. He quotes Rabbi Shimon haTeimoni asking Rabbi Zeiro (The sefer Seder Hadoros explains how it was possible for this to be as Rabbi Shimon haTeimoni lived centuries before Rabbi Z'eiro), "How do the Rabbis know that the world will stand for 6,000 years?" Rabbi Z'eiro responded that they based it upon the fact that the world was created through the letters of the Alef Beis, and their total numerical value gives us a total of 6,000. How so? Add up the value all the letters from Alef through Yud and you have 55. Add from Kof through Kuf and you have another 540. Reish, Shin, and Tof yield 900. The five final letters, final Kof, final Mem, final Nun, final Pei, and final Tzadi have the values of 500, 600, 700, 800, and 900 respectively, yielding 3,000. Then we come back to the letter Alef again, but this time after the letter final Tzadi it has the value of 1,000 (Alef=Elef). Add 55+540+900+3,000+1000 and you have a total of 5,995. The gemara M'nochos 29b derives from the words "Ki b'Yo-H Hashem tzur olomim" (Yeshayohu 26:4) that Hashem created this world and the next with the power of the letters Yud and Hei (b'Yo-H means with the letters Yud and Hei). The gemara then asks, "With which letter did He create this world and with which letter the next?" The gemara derives from the words that appear later in our parsha (2:4), "Eileh toldos hashomayim v'ho'oretz b'*H*iborom," which can be read as "b'Hei bro'om," that Hashem created this world with the letter Hei. Rabbi Z'eiro said that this means that beyond all the letters of the Alef Beis being used to create this world, an extra letter Hei was also used. The numerical value of Hei is 5, and when added to the above-mentioned 5,995, we have a total of 6,000!
Ch. 1, v. 1: “Breishis bora Elokim eis hashomayim v’eis ho’oretz” – In the beginning of G-d’s creating the heavens and the earth – In the verses of creation the expression “asioh” is used throughout save by the creation of the heavens and earth, man, and taninim, where “brioh” is used. This is why in our Rosh Hashonoh prayers we say, “Uvchein tein pach’d’cho …… al kol maa’secho v’eimos’cho al kol mah sheboroso,” separating the creations through “asioh” and through “brioh.” “Pachad” is a lesser degree of fear than “aimoh.” More is required of heavens and earth and man. We then say “V’yishtachavu l’fo’necho kol habru’im.” This is because people deify heavens and earth and taninim. People deify themselves. So we pray that they subordinate themselves to Hashem with prostration. (Abudrohom)
Ch. 1, v. 1: “Eis hashomayim v’eis ho’oretz” – The heavens and the earth – The Holy Admor Rabbi Yehoshua of Belz was travelling with a few followers on a lengthy train trip. He asked to be woken if necessary when the train would enter a long underground tunnel. When asked why it was so compelling to be awake at that particular location he answered that people praise Hashem from the air, on seas, and of course when on land. He wanted the opportunity to praise Hashem from underground.
Ch. 1, v. 3: “Y’hi ohr va’y’hi ohr” – There shall be light and there was light – Rashi says that the light of the days of creation was hidden for the world-to-come. This is alluded to in these words. Let there be light, and the resultant – there WAS light, that it is not present. (GR”A)
Ch. 1, v. 4: “Va’yar Elokim es ho’ohr ki tov” – And G-d saw that the light was good – These words seem to be saying that after Hashem saw the light He concluded that it was good. This is patently wrong, as Hashem does not have to look at the results and then decide. Rather, it means that Hashem set into creation that when one sees something it is clearer than concluding with logic, with feeling, smelling, etc. Indeed, Moshe was told that the bnei Yisroel sinned with the golden calf and only reacted after he SAW what happened. (N’tzi”v)
Ch. 1, v. 11: “Eitz pri o’seh pri” – A tree of fruit that produces fruit – In the next verse it says “V’eitz o’seh pri” with no mention of “eitz pri.” Rashi explains that Hashem’s command was to have a tree which itself was fruit-like, that the taste of its wood would be that of the fruit it produces. The resultant tree that emanated from the earth did not have this characteristic. The wood of the tree was tasteless. In a very early edition of Sedrah Selections the issue of how a resultant creation could possibly come into being not with the specifications that Hashem said, was dealt with (see Mahari”l Diskin). We might explain symbolically, based on the verse in Ki Seitzei, which equates a fruit tree to a person, that Hashem commanded that the fruit produced and the tree have the same taste, meaning that when one complies with Hashem’s mitzvos and produces “fruits” of his labour, it should internally affect the person to be elevated, to have the taste of the mitzvoh, and not just to do the mitzvoh but remain unmoved, tasteless. (n.l.)
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 were 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.
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