Weekly Reading Insights: 
Bereishit 5766


Overview of the Weekly Reading: Bereishit

To be read on 26 Tishrei 5766 (Oct. 29)

Genesis 1:1-6:8;
Haftorah: Isaiah 42:5-43:10

Bereishit is the 1st Reading out of 12 in Genesis and 1st overall, and 9th out of 54 in overall length.
Shabbat Mevarchim

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

But, since the Higher World is concealed, and everything that is associated with it is also concealed, the verse [merely] states "Bereshit..." [meaning:] "bara -" [Hebrew for "He created"] "- sheet" [meaning "six"]. [This implies the creation of] six supernal days.

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

The following words are "chaos, emptiness, and darkness," referring to the shattering [of the vessels]. Since there were many levels [of shattering], each [vessel shard] descending further than the next, the Torah [uses various terms to describe the cataclysm,] saying "chaos, emptiness, and darkness."

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

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From the Alshich

The fact that G-d placed man into such a superior environment prior to his having performed a mitzvah to merit such bliss teaches us that serving
G-d is not like serving a human master. Service to a human master does not change one's nature even when done quite loyally, to the best of one's ability. The reward one receives depends entirely on the goodwill of the master and does not become an integral part of the recipient. This is not so when one serves G-d. Every mitzvah one performs transforms the very nature of the person performing it, his whole body becoming suffused with a degree of holiness, so that gradually the distance between him and his Creator shrinks, barriers are removed, and, eventually, his entire life-force becomes rooted in the Garden of Eden.

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


"G-d blessed them, saying, be fruitful and multiply." (1:22)
The first mitzva in the Torah is the commandment to be fruitful and multiply. From this we learn that the first responsibility of a Jew is to ensure the existence of another Jew in the world, and to try to influence other Jews to be "more Jewish."
(Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi)


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

www.ascentofsafed.com and www.kabbalaonline.org


"And G-d saw the light, that it was good." (Gen. 1:4)

Even before the world was created, G-d created the soul of Moshiach. It shone very brightly, and is hinted to in the verse, "And G-d saw the light, that it was good." The forces of evil also saw this light, and asked G-d, "Whose light is this?" G-d answered, "This is the king who will defeat all of you in the End of Days."

Yalkut Shimoni on Isaiah - [Reprinted with permission from L'Chaim Magazine (www.lchaim.org).]

An essay from Rabbi Shaul Yosef Leiter, director of Ascent

(for a free weekly email subscription, click here) (W:0166/Bereishit)

Although the primary purpose of the Torah is to teach the Jewish people about the commandments, we see that Bereishit opens with the story of Creation and not with a mitzvah. Rashi quotes the explanation of Rabbi Yitzchak: Why did the Torah begin with the story of Creation? In order that His nation would know His strength to give them the territorial portion of the nations. If the nations accuse the Jews of being thieves because we conquered the Land of the Seven Nations (Israel), we are instructed to answer them that the earth belongs to the Holy One Blessed Be He. He created it and gives it to who He see fit. If He desires, He can give it to the other nations, and if He wishes He may take it from them and give it to us. In addition, since He gave it to us, it is not permitted to give any of it away. It is important not to submit to the falsehood of believing the Jewish people stole the Land of Israel. The story of Creation gives us the correct perspective.

Despite the above, the Lubavitcher Rebbe points out that the reason that the Torah begins with the story of Creation cannot be only to supply an answer to a possible question that the nations of the world may or may not ask us (though today it is clearly relevant). It must also be a lesson as to how to serve G-d.

The first lesson is that a Jew should not be influenced by things in the world that hinder the fulfillment of the Torah and its commandments. That a certain commandment is said to not make sense, is impractical, outdated or uncivilized is the complainer's problem. If you hear a complaint once, you will hear it one hundred times. Our job is to remember that G-d created the world, and all of the earth is His; He sets what is correct, and we listen to Him.

There is another lesson: Initially, the land of Israel was in the inheritance of Shem, the eldest son of Noah. Afterwards, it was conquered by the seven Canaanite nations. To change its status back from the land of the Canaanites to the "Land of Israel" required its conquering by the Jewish people.

From a spiritual perspective, this is a hint to what is expected in the daily life of a Jew. While all of life belongs to G-d, we often make a distinction between our Jewish lives and our daily physical pursuits. When we are in synagogue praying or in the middle of some other commandment, we are serving G-d. On the other hand, when we are eating or drinking, involved in our work lives etc, we may unconsciously or even consciously allow ourselves to fall under the influence of the physical world.

Therefore, the beginning of the Torah tells us: Everything you do should be for the sake of heaven. To serve G-d when we are involved with a specific commandment is nice, but what G-d really expects from us is that "everything" should be part of our service to G-d. On this, the gentile nations - and the gentile within each one of us - make their claim: "You are thieves.You have conquered! You have stolen our secular orientation by conquering the secular parts of life and made them into something holy, the Land of Israel. We do not want to change!"

The Torah is teaching us that this argument is baseless. There is no true separation between Torah and the world. The entire world belongs to the Holy One Blessed Be He. The ultimate purpose of the physical reality is to "make a dwelling place for G-d in the lower worlds". This is the meaning of the well-known edict that, until Mashiach comes, it is every Jew's job to transform wherever he or she is into an extension of "Israel" - to imbue every place and every aspect of this world with G-dliness.

Shabbat Shalom - Shaul

P.S. Please also read my weekly Shabbat Law, below.)

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