Parshat Bereishit Highlights

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First Portion

  •  “A very important lesson we learn from the beginning part of this Parsha is the unique task, in which, each part of creation is responsible for. The world is like a symphony where every individual, every creation has their and only their song, sound, expertise to add. Perhaps this is the reason G-d is also consoled, besides the immediate family, when someone passes away. When one says the kaddish NECHEMATA – “console” is referring to G-D. He just lost an individual sound which was part of the ensemble cast which cannot be replaced. If man can only realize that his contribution in this world matters, then he would pay more attention and sensitivity to what his gifts are and how he can allocate it to the best of his ability.
  • Why did G-d start the Torah with the letter BET, the second letter of the alphabet? It should have started with ALEF, the first letter. After all, if we are describing the creation of the world, it’s only fitting to begin with the first letter. We put a tremendous importance on the letters; they are the building blocks of the world. In actuality, the sequence of events are indeed in order, the ten commandments which represents the Torah starts out with an ALEF. The Torah is the blueprint of the world; it came first. Therefore, it received the first letter while the creation followed.
  • Interesting to note, it says in the first portion G-d created light – OR (OR means light in Hebrew). However, in the fourth portion, the scripture informs us that G-d created two big lights, the sun and the moon. So what light – OR – is the Torah referring to? The sun or the moon? Neither. It’s a special highly spiritual light in which G-d took away and hid. Ever wonder why we read the Torah on a KLAF – parchment – skin of an animal. Skin is also called OR. Here, OR – skin – starts with the letter AYIN. We are in essence transforming the OR – animal skin which is the vehicle where the Torah is read, to OR – light, the hidden light. Apparently, the Torah is the hidden light. It is said in the commentaries with the hidden light one can see clear from one end of the world to the other. The wisdom of Torah, one opens up the mind and can envision concepts of the creation. This can only be accomplished through the OR – light of the Torah.
  • G-d created five groups of angels: the Airalim, Malachim, Ofanim, Serafim, and Chashmalim.
  • “It was evening, it was morning…” Here we find the source that according to Judaism the day starts at night.
  • If one notices, at the end of the second day, G-d does not write KEE-TOV – it was good. The reason is that He made division between the waters. Every time there is division – MACHLOKET – strife, it cannot be good.

Second Portion

There was a stream coming out from Gan Eden and flowing throughout the world. This is the reason the Torah puts such an importance to MIKVAH. After a woman immerses herself in the purified water, she has the connection with Gan Eden and therefore more susceptible for child bearing. Also, it’s important to drink water from the sink (filter?) on MOTZEA SHABBAT after the Shabbat is over because that’s when G-d kicked out or escorted out Adam and Chava out of Gan Eden. So one should get a final last taste of SHABBAT-GAN EDEN to power himself for the week.

Third Portion

G-d created woman, man’s helper. The scripture states EZER KENEGDO – a helper opposite him. Why does it have to say KENEGDO – opposite him? The reason is, she, the wife, should not be a ‘yes lady’, an obedient Stepford wife type. Man doesn’t need that; he needs someone with an opinion; he needs someone with backbone, although this doesn’t give the wife the license to be disrespectful. Respect is a very key ingredient to maintain marriage. A wife’s opinion is vital in man’s growth.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ HUMOR – Adam came home late one night and Eve confronted him, “You’re seeing someone else”. Adam replied “Don’t be silly, you’re the only woman on earth”. Later that night Adam woke up feeling a tickle on his chest. “What are you doing Eve?” She replied “What do you think I’m doing, I’m counting your ribs”.

  • The snake waited till Adam was asleep before going through with his plan to seduce Chava.
  • The prohibition of touching the tree was not G-d’s instructions. It was construed by Adam to safeguard eating from it. Adam was so pleased with his idea that he neglected to mention to Chava this crucial footnote. This is the opportunity Evil was seeking, a slight shade of egoism displayed by Adam.
  • After the sin, Adam and Chava were ashamed of their nakedness and sought out giant leaves to cover themselves.

A high ranking officer committed treason. Although, the King should have killed him, since he liked him he decided to spare his life with one condition – he and three generations of his descendants would have to wear blue badges all their lives, as a punishment. At first, the children of the offender thought it was embarrassing for the family. Eventually, though, generations later, many of the descendants forgot what the badge was for; it even became a status symbol. They actually wore it with pride and honor; “look at our family”. We take pride in our designer clothes, even though it was a status of shame; hurray for Madison Avenue!!

  • When Adam sinned, G-d asked AH YEA KA where are you? Didn’t G-d know where Adam was? Perhaps AH YEA KA comes to teach us something about human behavior. One should not go straight for the kill. If G-d would have approached Adam by accusing him right away of his wrongdoing, he would have been startled; he would have totally lost his composure. The approach was a bit more subtle. Eventually, after the preliminaries, G-d then questioned Adam if he ate from the tree. One should always ease into the news, whether good or bad. Man does not take startling news very well.

Adam
Instead of admitting his guilt, Adam answered back, “It was the woman which you gave me,” insinuating the woman was a bad choice. G-d would have forgiven him if he would have admitted his guilt and said “I’m sorry.” However because Adam came across unappreciative of the gift which was given to him (his wife) he was punished. How important it is to appreciate what one has.
* Sweat of your brow you shall work” (see article).

Snake
A number of punishments were given to the snake; two of which are: ” You will slide on your belly.” This is retribution for having brought death on mankind, causing people to walk, stooped in grief, and mourning for their dead. Secondly, all the food will taste like dust. The question is asked, why is this a punishment? It seems like the snake has an abundance of food; dust is everywhere. Prayer is an important part of getting close to G-d. When do we pray? When there is something lacking in our lives. G-d was so disgusted with the snake that the most cruelest punishment would be not giving the opportunity, the option for a prayer; for getting close to G-d.

Chava

  • “He will dominate you.” “You will cling to him.” As punishment for the woman, it’s designed that man should always have the upper hand. Rav Henoch Leibowitz, z”l, discusses why is it 90% of grooms walking down the aisle are not sure if they’re doing the right thing or not. He says, it’s designed that way. The bride, though, has to be sure that this is the guy she wants. By wanting the guy more, the woman succumbs to his wishes, “She will cling to him”, therefore giving him the upper hand. Although man has to find his potential wife attractive, a good person, and potential mother to his children, however, the strong feelings of being sure has to come from the woman. If it’s the other way, the couple are doomed for disaster.
  • G-d gave three commandments to atone for
    Chava’s sin: She has the commandment to light candles before Shabbat. Chava extinguished the light of the world by inducing Adam to sin. It is, therefore, the woman’s task to rekindle the light which was lost. The woman has a commandment to separate challah from her dough since she defiled the challah of the world (Adam). The woman has to observe the laws of Nida, in order to atone for the sin of having caused Adam’s blood to be spilled.

Fourth Portion

Kayin was the one who formulated the idea to give a sacrifice to G-d out of appreciation. Kol Hakavod to him. However, he did not give from the best of his lot. Therefore, it was not accepted. Kayin, though, did not react very well to rejection. He denounced G-d’s existence and killed his brother. Sometimes life is difficult causing one to fall easily and behave in a negative fashion; one can lose himself in despair every easily. It’s therefore very crucial to know how to deal with adversity. Here, Kayin was the first one to appreciate what G-d has done for mankind, though he did a complete about face when faced with the negative reaction from G-d.

Fifth and Sixth Portion

Hanoch was a tzadik, a very righteous person among the wolves. G-d did not want him to be influenced by society, therefore, he took him away early. The question is asked, if he’s able to withstand the degenerate, derelict society till now, then kol hakavod to him! What makes you think he’ll falter now? One should never put himself in a challenging situation. At any given moment, a combination of an aggressive evil and a vulnerable you, and the balance of power is changed.

Seventh Portion

The narrative is setting up the next chain of humanity, Noach.

Credit to: Rabbi Avi Matmon