Weekly Reading Insights:



From The Masters Of Kabbalah and Chumash (5 Books of Moses)

13th century - "RambaN" - Rabbi Moshe ben Nachman

14th century - "Bachya" - Rabbi Bachya ben Asher

16th century - "Alsheich" - Rabbi Moshe Alshech of Tsfat

17th century - "Shelah" - Rabbi Yeshaiya Horowitz

18th century - "Ohr HaChayim" - Rabbi Chaim Ben Attar


"And G-d blessed the seventh day and He sanctified it" [Gen. 2:3]

The truth is that the blessing on the Shabbat day is the fountain of blessings and constitutes the foundation of the world. "...and He sanctified it" - that it draw its sanctity from the Sanctuary on high. If you will understand this comment of mine you will grasp what the Rabbis have said in Bereshit Rabbah concerning the Shabbat: ["Why did He bless the Shabbat? It is] because it has no partner," and that which they have further related [that G-d said to the Shabbat]: " The congregation of Israel will be thy partner." Then you will comprehend that on the Shabbat there is truly an extra soul.


Rabeinu Bachya

"….the Tree of Life in the middle of the garden, and the Tree of Knowledge of good and evil." [2:9]

The tree of life and the tree of knowledge of the celestial regions are the emanations tiferet and ateret, and man's sin consisted of both a sinful deed and a sinful design. His sin in deed consisted of eating from the tree and what it represented. When Adam sinned this was not a denial of the supremacy of G'd, a heretical act. Even though he had seen the tree of life next to the tree of knowledge, he did not consider the tree of life as essential but he considered the tree of knowledge the key to his existence. Inasmuch as the tree of knowledge provided the key to all opposites in the universe and enabled those who had consumed its fruit to perform all kinds of activities both in the terrestrial as well as in the celestial regions, this is what he considered as essential.
This is why the verses describing the tree of knowledge and its allure (3.2-6) spoke of its fruit, whereas no mention of fruit is made in connection with the tree of life. Adam's sin consisted of ktsets bintiyot "pursued alien philosophies" (the expression applied to the heresy of Elisha ben Avuyah in Chagigah 14). Literally, the expression means that Adam "curtailed the beneficial influence of saplings G-d Himself had planted and which had been imbued with a unique divine potential. Adam's "cutting" this sapling was the cause that this potential contained in the sapling "withered and it dried out and perished." As a result it was appropriate that the sapling in question revenge itself on Adam. This explains that the fitting punishment for Adam was death, i.e., that he himself would wither and dry out. Death meant that his soul and body would become separated, just as he had separated the divine part of the tree of knowledge from its earthly part.


"And it was completed...." [2:1]

Without a doubt, any physical activity which does not include a spiritual stimulus will eventually be completely wasted. The best example is man's body. It disintegrates upon the departure of its spiritual part, the soul. G'ds work during almost the entire 6 days of creation consisted of creating a physical universe. It would have disintegrated gradually, had it not been for the infusion of something spiritual, i.e. kedushah, (sanctity). This was the contribution of the Shabbat. If not for the Shabbat, the world simply would not have endured. If is this the Rabbis meant when they said the world lacked menuchah (rest). The Shabbat did for the physical world what the soul does for the body. This is the meaning of shavat vayinafash (rested and became possessed of a soul). This is why the Torah had to say vayanach, (He rested) to make sure we understand that this rest was a positive, active contribution to the physical world, the creation of which had been completed.


"..and fruit trees producing fruit according to its kind in which its seed is found.." (1:11)

The original purpose of man's creation was to have the body as perfect as the soul, the body being the "Sanctuary", and the soul the "the inner Sanctuary". Both body and soul would have enjoyed a life of intelligence. All other creatures on earth would have dwelled in a "higher" existence; there would not have been any trees that failed to produce edible fruit, for instance. When you look closely at the instruction issued by G-d to the Earth on the third day, you will find that the trees were meant to be edible themselves, i.e. the trunk, not just the fruit. (Gen. 1:11) Earth did not comply with G-d's command completely, since it was aware that G-d would have to hide the Original Light due to the eventual emergence of wicked people. This prompted Earth to withhold some of its goodness also.


Ohr HaChayim

"It was on the day the Lord G-d put the finishing touches to earth and heaven." (2:4)

Throughout the whole report of creation in the first chapter of the Torah the word used for G-d is only [the name we refer to as] Elokim. We encounter the name [we refer to as] Havayeh only in Genesis 2:4 where the Torah suddenly writes: "it was on the day the Lord G-d put the finishing touches to earth and heaven." You note that in this latter case the Torah mentions the earth first ad the heavens afterwards, in contrast to Genesis 1:1, where we were told about the creation of heaven and earth in that order. The other change is that a new attribute of G-d is introduced, the four'letter name, Havayeh.

As long as the Torah employs G-d's name Elokim exclusively, this means that only the attribute of Justice was employed in the work of creation which the Torah reports. All that is reported there took place before G-d "co-opted" the attribute of Mercy. This attribute was applicable as far as the creation of the heavens were concerned because the heavens are not inhabited by anyone requiring the attribute of Mercy. This is why the Torah does not again refer to the heavens as it does to the earth in 1:2.

In the second report in 2:4, the Torah deals with an earth inhabited by man, a creature composed also of physical matter who therefore cannot endure without the presence of the attribute of Mercy. The word heavens at the end of that verse does not belong to the preceding word earth as far as the presence of the attribute Havayeh mentioned in the earlier part of the verse is concerned.

The reason the word for heavens sometimes appears after the word for earth while other times it appears before, is in order to show that heaven and earth were created simultaneously.



Ramban - credits
Adapted from the 13th century classic by the illustrious scholar, philosopher and defender of the faith, Rabbi Moshe ben Nachman-known as 'RAMBAN' or 'Nachmanides', a master kabbalist in his own right and a major link in the transmission of Jewish mysticism-based on the excellent annotated English translation, Nachmanides on the Torah, by Rabbi Dr. Charles B. Chavel

Bachya - credits
Selected with permission from the seven-volume English edition of The Torah Commentary of Rebbeinu Bachya, as translated and annotated by Eliyahu Munk. Rabbi Bachya ben Asher [1255-1340] of Saragosa, Spain, was the outstanding pupil of Rabbi Shlomo ben Aderet (the "Rashba"), a main disciple of Rabbi Moshe ben Nachman (the "Ramban"). Several books have been written about the Kabballah-based portions of R. Bachya's commentary.

Alsheich - credits
Adapted from Torat Moshe - the 16th commentary of Rabbi Moshe Alshech, the "Preacher of Zefat" on the Torah, as translated and condensed in the English version of Eliyahu Munk)

Shelah - credits
Rabbi Isaiah Horowitz was born in Prague around the year 1565. He served as Rabbi of Cracow and other congregations before he was appointed as the Rabbi of the community of Frankfurt on Main in the year 1610. In 1916, Rabbi Horowitz moved to Prague where he became the Chief Rabbi of the city. He moved to Eretz Yisrael about 1621. He was rabbi in Jerusalem and in Tiberias, where he died in or about 1630. In addition to his magnus opus, Shenei Luchot HaBrit, he also compiled an edition of the prayer-book with a comprehensive commentary. Many of his innovations, including his formulation of the Kol Nidrei prayer, have become part and parcel of the Ashkenazi Siddur.

Ohr HaChayim - credits
Selected with permission from the five-volume English edition of Ohr HaChaim: the Torah Commentary of Rabbi Chaim Ben Attar, as translated and annotated by Eliyahu Munk.
The holy Rabbi Chayim ben Moses Attar was born in Sale, Western Morocco, on the Atlantic in 1696. His immortal commentary on the Five Books Of Moses, Or Hachayim, was printed in Venice in 1741, while the author was on his way to the Holy Land. He acquired a reputation as a miracle worker, hence his title "the holy," although some apply this title only to his Torah commentary.

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