Weekly Reading Insights:

Bereishit 5764



Overview of the Weekly Reading: Bereishit

To be read on 29 Tishrei 5764 (Oct. 25)

Bereishit is the 1st Reading out of 12 in Genesis and 1st overall, and 9th out of 54 in overall length.
Torah: Gen. 1:1-6:8;
: Samuel I 20:18-42 (for Erev Rosh Chodesh)
Shabbat Mevorchim - Blessing the New Month

Bereishit - The Torah opens with G-d's creation of the world in six days - plus Shabbos. G-d planted a garden in Eden, with the Tree of Life in the middle, and the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. G-d told Adam that he may eat from every tree except for the Tree of Knowledge. The serpent persuaded Eve to eat from the tree, and she gave some of its fruit to Adam. G-d punished each of the three, then clothed Adam and Eve, and banished them from Eden. Eve gave birth to Cain and Abel. Cain killed Abel, and subsequently Eve gave birth to Seth. The Torah then lists the ten generations from Adam to Noah. When Noah was 500 years old, he fathered Shem, Ham and Yapheth. G-d then decided that man should live only to 120. G-d saw that the world was evil, and decided to obliterate it, except for Noah and his family.


From the holy Zohar, teachings of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai

The Torah was created for mankind and has written in it punishment for the wicked and reward for the righteous. There would be no need for reward for the righteous and punishment for the wicked other than for created man. It was not chaos that was created, rather [an ordered state] with control of the inclination [to do good or bad].


For the full article, click to the "Weekly Torah" section on our KabbalaOnline site.

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From the holy Ari, Rabbi Yitzchak Luria of Safed

Although the world was created on the 25th of Elul, the crown of creation was the creation of man, who was created on the sixth day, or the 1st of Tishrei. The whole six-day creative process may thus be viewed as a preparation for what happened on the 1st of Tishrei, and therefore the world may be spoken of as having been truly or fully created in Tishrei.


For the full article, click to the "Weekly Torah" section on our KabbalaOnline site.

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From the Shelah, Shney Luchot HaBrit by Rabbi Isaiah Horowitz

When at night our soul leaves our body to ascend to higher worlds, it may be able to read the interpretation of Torah that is appropriate to its particular root which resulted in its creation; on different nights, however, man's actions during the preceding day may cause different verses of the Torah to provide different degrees of enlightenment even for that same soul.


For the full article, click to the "Weekly Torah" section on our KabbalaOnline site.


"And G-d blessed them, saying, be fruitful and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas" (Gen. 1:22)
On the fifth day of Creation the fish were blessed; on the sixth day man was blessed, and on the seventh day the Shabbat was blessed. The reason it is customary to eat fish on Shabbat is to obtain this three-fold, consecutive blessing, a "woven rope of three strands that is difficult to cut."
(Bnei Yissaschar)

"And G-d said, let us make man in our image" (Gen. 1:26)
One reason the Torah uses the plural "us" is that man is a "compound" creation, containing within him all of the higher and lower elements of the universe. The soul of man embraces all of the higher spheres, while his physical body is made of dust, representing all of the lower realms.
(Likutei Levi Yitzchak)

"By the sweat of your face shall you eat bread" (Gen. 3:19)
If a person has to work night and day just to fulfill the curse of "By the sweat of your face shall you eat bread," how much more so should he expend time and effort to attain the blessing of "Blessed is the man who trusts in G-d"!
(from L'chaim #539)


from the Chabad Master series, produced by Rabbi Yosef Marcus for

www.ascentofsafed.com and www.kabbalaonline.org

An essay from Rabbi Shaul Yosef Leiter, director of Ascent

(for a free weekly email subscription, click here) (W:01-64/Bereishit )

Notwithstanding the fact that we are after the High Holidays, Chassidut teaches that how we spend Shabbat Bereishit, (referring to the first Shabbat after the holidays and the first parasha of the Torah) will have a qualitative effect on our entire coming year. Therefore, it is logical to expect that in this portion are more core messages than might be in any other portion.

Rebbe Michil of Zlotchuv chooses a verse about marriage as the paradigm for how to face the challenges in our lives. "And G-d said, it is not good for the man to be alone, I will make a helpmate corresponding (in Hebrew, "k'negdo") for him" (Gen. 2:18). Interestingly, the word "k'negdo" can also be translated as "against him". The commentary in Talmud Yevamot 63a explains the term to mean "help against him". If a husband acts properly, his wife helps him; if a husband does not act properly, his wife becomes his adversary.

The above explanation is really quite a radical jump, and others suggest that the dichotomy is not really supported by the verse. They suggest a more mystical approach that fits more with the words according to the Arizal, who said that when G-d created this physical world, it became necessary that the world should recognize G-d's greatness. As part of this process, a soul is taught the entire Torah before it is born into a body, and, just before birth, an angel comes and taps the baby under the nose and all that has been learned is forgotten. Why was everything learned, only to be apparently forgotten?

The answer is that even though forgotten, an impression still remains that will eventually be a key to allow the person to reach a higher spiritual level. Only from the difficulty caused by our forgetting Torah will we eventually arrive at the full knowledge and recognition of G-d's greatness. This is the secret meaning of the verse "G-d will not abandon what is in his hand" (Psalms 37:33); G-d will not completely take away the knowledge that was originally given to the soul, and He will not allow us to be judged as though we were independent and fully responsible for all of our actions. This is what the Arizal meant when he said that the world should recognize
G-d's greatness. We recognize things we already know and can identify, when we come upon them again.

And so the verse, "It was not good for the man to be alone" means it was not good for man to be alone without any obstacles. Personal growth only comes with struggle. G-d makes a "help against" evil with which to struggle, so we will come to the eventual good. This is also the explanation in Yevamot: if he merits, she is a help, if he does not merit, she is an obstacle.

And finally, this is what is meant by the verse, and "the Land was utter chaos (in Hebrew, 'tohu v'vohu')" (Gen. 1:2). Where there is chaos, you have 'vohu', which literally means "He will come". This teaches us that "He", i.e. G-d, "will come", as it is written (Talmud Megilla 29a), "Into every place that the Jewish people are exiled, the Divine Presence is exiled with them to help them." And this should lead to the biggest good of all, the arrival of Mashiach.

Shabbat Shalom, Shaul Leiter

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