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   by Jacob Solomon

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In the Beginning - The Creation

Rashi begins his commentary by considering why the Torah opens with the account of the Creation, rather than with the mitzvot from Parashat Bo. He quotes Rabbi Yitzchak (could Rashi be opening with respect to his own father, as Rashi is an acronym for Rabbi Sholmo be Yitzchak?) who explains that the Creator, the ultimate owner of everything, has the power to give whatever He wants to whoever He wants. It is G-d who created the world who decided that the part of the Creation that was the Land of Canaan was to become the property of the Israelites in due course. Thus, the nations of the world cannot say that the Israelites stole the Land from the seven nations of Canaan. That is because it was G-d, the Ultimate Owner, who took it away from them and gave it to the Israelites.

The Kli Yakar examines why specifically the opening of the Torah needs to address that particular point. As he writes: "So what if the nations say: 'You are robbers'. Just for that, G-d should change the order of the Torah?"

In response, the Kli Yakar treats the whole issue of the right to personal property and the evil of theft as an over-arching principle of how a person relates to the Creation and acts within the Creation. The prevention of robbery is the very foundation of faith. By not stealing when the opportunity arises, the individual recognizes that there is justice and a Judge who rules the world. Within the Creation exists the mechanism by which theft is put right. It is delegated to the Courts when possible, but it is ultimately in the hands of the Almighty.

That is essential background to the Creation. The nations accuse G-d's chosen nation of wholesale and wilful theft. This could be understood as an "attack" that undermines the Creation's underlying principle of being founded on honest behavior. It appears as a potential chillul hashem; an act that brings the Name of the Creator into disrepute. Therefore, he explains that also within the creation is the following additional principle. Having created the world ex nihilo (out of nothing), it is G-d who decides who is entitled to what, at what point in time, and in which circumstances.

However, the Kli Yakar does give an alternative explanation. The Torah opens with "In the beginning G-d created the Heavens and the Earth" with no further qualification, implying that the entire Creation is yesh mei-ayin; G-d created it out of nothing, ex-niholo. The concept of yesh mei-ayin, how anything can be created out of nothing, is something that the human being has to accept that he or she will never understand. But it is the Torah that is G-d's guide to living productively and in harmony with the product of yesh mei-ayin, the Creation.

For those looking for more comprehensive material, questions and answers on the Parasha may be found at and on the material on the Haftara at .

Written by Jacob Solomon. Tel 02 673 7998. E-mail: for any points you wish to raise and/or to join those that receive this Parasha sheet every week.

Parashiot from the First, Second, and Third Series may be viewed on the Shema Yisrael web-site:

Also by Jacob Solomon:
From the Prophets on the Haftara

Test Yourself - Questions and Answers


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