OCTOBER 8-9, 2004 24 TISHREI 5765
"Hashem had not sent rain and there was no man to work the soil." (Beresheet 2:5)
Rashi tells us that the plants and grass were created on the third day, but stood at the surface of the ground and did not sprout until Adam was created. When Adam saw that the world needs rain to make the vegetation grow, he prayed to Hashem for rain, and it came down and made everything grow.
We can learn from here that Hashem prepares what we need before we even see it. We don't have it, however, because we don't realize we need it, and therefore don't pray for it. It is only when we recognize our need for something and turn to G-d for that thing, that Hashem makes it happen for us. This is true both for spiritual matters and physical things. We first have to recognize what we are missing to be able to ask for it, and then Hashem will make it "sprout."
As we begin the new year, let us remember to ask Hashem for our needs, especially those involving our spiritual life. Let us ask Him for peace of mind and tranquillity to be able to study and pray and bring up our children the right way. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Shmuel Choueka
"In the beginning of G-d's creating the heavens and the earth" (Beresheet 1:1)
As we begin studying the holy Torah again from the beginning, it is important to realize that the Torah is full of many meaningful hints hidden in the words. The Ba'al Haturim notes that the last letters of the words "Beresheet Bara Elokim" - Taf, Alef, Mem - spell the word emet, truth. This teaches that the world was created via the attribute of truth. It is interesting to note that the sequence of the letters is out of order. Rabbi D. Walkin infers a profound lesson from here. The Torah teaches that we must strive for the truth regardless of the situation. One must be truthful even when things are "out of order."
I would like to learn another related hint. The letters are hidden and out of order to teach us that at times truth is hidden and found in unusual places. We must seek the truth because it is not readily seen.
About a year ago, a speech was given by the Malaysian Prime Minister, Mahathir Mohamad, at the 10th summit of the Organization of the Islamic Conference. It was attended by 57 nations and held in the Malaysian capital of Putrajaya. His speech, which was filled with anti-Semitic remarks, shocked the world. He expressed his belief that the Jews control the world. He said that 1.3 billion Muslims cannot be defeated by a few million Jews. He suggested the use of political and economic tactics to achieve a "final victory." However he made a number of interesting statements that we should study. One statement was that "the Europeans killed six million Jews out of twelve million." Notice that he said a hidden truth. Six million were killed, not by the Nazis but by the Europeans. A tall statement that not only did the Nazis kill, but almost all of Europe collaborated with Hitler to kill the Jews. He continued, "The Jews run the world by proxy." Another hidden truth, as the Torah says "Beresheet" which the Midrash interprets bishvil resheet, for the sake of resheet - resheet being the Jewish people. G-d created the world, and the world continues to exist, for the sake of the Jews. The nations of the world populate and run the world for us. Another statement, "They survived 2000 years of pogroms not by hitting back but by thinking." Another hidden truth, that we rely on our thoughts of belief and reliance on Hashem to survive. He saves the best for last, "Of late, because of their power and apparent success, they have become arrogant, and arrogant people, like angry people, make mistakes, will forget to think. They are already beginning to make mistakes...we must seize the opportunities." He sounds like a Rosh Yeshivah giving us a lecture about the evils of thinking "kohi v'osem yadi - the strength of my hand is my success," instead of attributing everything to Hashem. There is a tendency to be arrogant and to take all of the credit. It is truly amazing how much truth this evil person said. Truth is found in the most interesting places. Shabbat Shalom. Rabbi Reuven Semah
"After a period of time, Cain brought an offering to Hashem of the fruit of the ground" (Beresheet 4:3)
Our Rabbis teach us that Cain was the first person to bring a sacrifice to Hashem from the beginning of creation. Rambam states that the key reason for sacrifices was to negate the worshiping of idols through sacrifices to Hashem. Ramban states, that the main purpose for sacrifices in the holy temple was to bring the upper worlds closer to us and find favor in the eyes of Hashem (even though Hashem obviously doesn't need our sacrifices). This secret was well known to Cain, Adam, and Noah; they all knew the deep secrets of the sacrifices and the effect it had on the world. So the question is, if Cain was the first to bring sacrifices why was he not accepted? Why was the sacrifice of Hevel, who brought of the best sheep, received by Hashem, and the sacrifice of Cain not accepted, if he was the first to even think of the idea. The answer to this question can be given by a simple analogy. When a person goes to a wedding and gives a gift of $100 to the new bride and groom, he goes to the store and buys a beautiful card and writes beautiful words and wraps the check in it. For sure, the new couple will throw the card and all its contents in the wastebasket. Even though we know that the card will go to waste, we still wrap the gift. Why?? Because it shows the couple our love for them. Similarly, Hashem doesn't need our sacrifices; rather we need to show our love and heart for Him. That was the difference between Cain and Hevel; that is the reason Hashem accepted Hevel. We must learn from this that in our service to Hashem, we should yearn to serve him in the best fashion possible in order, that the external beauty be a reflection of our inner love for Hashem. Shabbat shalom! Rabbi Eli Ben-Haim
"Yet your craving will be for your husband, and he shall rule over you" (Beresheet 3:16)
The Talmud (Baba Mesia 59a) tells us that when a man honors his wife, it bodes well for the state of his bank account - he will become rich. If you think about it, the reverse should be true. Honoring one's wife with one's credit card is hardly a harbinger of wealth to come.
Hashem always rewards us measure for measure. When a man honors his wife, he lightens the punishment that was decreed on her at the time of the sin of Adam and Havah -"and he shall rule over you."
So if he lightens her punishment by not behaving like a despot, so Hashem also lightens his punishment - "by the sweat of your brow you shall eat your bread."
Instead of having to work hard for a living, Hashem sends him riches, lightening the amount of sweat that it takes to put chickens on the table for Shabbat...and his credit card remains undented. (Ohr Somayach)
This week's Haftarah: Yeshayahu 42:5-21.
There are two connections between the perashah and the haftarah. First, the perashah begins with the creation of the world. In the haftarah, the prophet Yeshayahu reminds the Jewish nation that G-d, Who is the creator of the world, continues creating every day. Creation is not something that was done just once. It is an ongoing miracle.
Second, in the perashah, man is the only creature given the power to choose between right and wrong. In the haftarah, Yeshayahu tells the people that G-d created the Jewish nation in order to be a "light for the nations." It is their duty to show the nations what is right, so that they, too, can become closer to G-d.(Tell it From the Torah)
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