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Breisheet
Israel: our substitute for the Garden of Eden Print E-mail
Tuesday, 02 October 2018

After Adam and Chava sinned by eating the fruit, their eyes were opened, they realized that they were naked and they made clothing out of fig leaves. They heard the voice of God and they hid among the trees of the Garden.

In Breisheet 3:9 we read: “HaShem Elokim called to Adam and He said, “Ayeka?” (translated as “where are you?”)

According to the Midrash, Breisheet Raba 19:9, God obviously knew where Adam and Chava were. Therefore, we shouldn’t pronounce the word “Ayeka”, “where are you?” Rather, we should vocalize it as a lamentation “Eycha”, “How did you change over from good to bad?”

Rabbi Abahu taught in the name of Rabbi Chanina, it says in Hoshea 6:2, “They (B’nai Yisrael) like Adam have transgressed the covenant; they have dealt treacherously against me.”

God put Adam in the Garden of Eden and commanded him not to eat from the tree. Adam transgressed and ate from it. God therefore punished him and banished him from the Garden of Eden so that he would atone for his sin and God lamented “Eycha.”

God brought B’nei Yisrael to the Land of Israel and commanded them to observe the mitzvot. B’nei Yisrael transgressed. As a punishment, God banished them to foreign lands to atone for their sins since they were no longer worthy of living in the Land of Israel. God lamented “Eycha” as it says in the book of Eycha (Lamentations) “Eycha yashva badad”, “How does the city (Jerusalem) sit solitary?”

We see from here that the banishment of the Adam and Chava from the Garden of Eden is similar to the banishment of the Jewish people from the Land of Israel.

How can we make a tikun (correction) for Adam’s sin? The best tikun would be for the Jewish people to return to the Land of Israel and take advantage of the opportunity to live in the Land that we were promised. Our ancestors were banished because they did not observe the mitzvot properly. Now that we have the State of Israel, the Jewish people can return to the Land and observe all of the mitzvot in the Land where they were intended to be observed including the Mitzvot HaTluyot Ba’Aretz (those commandments that only apply in the Land of Israel).

 
Theater of the Absurd Print E-mail
Wednesday, 23 November 2016

The first word in the Torah is "Breisheet", "In the beginning." Rashi asks why the Torah begins with the depiction of the creation of the world rather than with Rosh Chodesh (the new moon), the first mitzvah that the Jewish people were commanded as a nation.

Rashi's answer is that the description of the creation is necessary as it proves the Jewish people's claim to the Land of Israel. If the nations one day say to the Jewish people, "You are robbers, you have taken by force the land of the seven nations", then Israel can reply "All the earth belongs to God. He created it and gave it to whomever he saw fit. It was His will to give it to them and it was His will to take it from them and give it to us." 

How fitting that this portion coincides with the week that UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organization) denies the Jewish claim to Jerusalem’s holy sites, a stolen papyrus that mentions Jerusalem was reclaimed and ten years of excavations on the Temple Mount produced proof of the First Temple.

In a comment on the fact that UNESCO refuses to acknowledge the Temple Mount as a Jewish holy site, solely calling it by its Muslim names, Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, Danny Danon said: “The absurdity continues, and UNESCO has adopted yet another ridiculous decision that is completely disconnected from reality.”

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu commented, “This is the continuation of the theater of the absurd. Who is really deserving of condemnation is UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee, not Israel. Extremist Muslim forces are destroying mosques and churches. Israel is the only country in the region that protects them and allows freedom of worship.”

The stolen papyrus which has been recovered by the Israel Antiquities Authority was originally found in a cave in the Judean Desert. It is a part of a wine shipping order that dates back to the 7th century BCE and is the oldest non-Biblical document to mention Jerusalem.

Yesterday, Israeli archeologists announced that they unearthed artifacts including olive pits, animal bones and pottery from the First Temple, over 2600 years ago.

What is unique is that these artifacts were found on the Temple Mount itself, not through the Temple Mount Sifting Project.

According to Prime Minister Netanyahu, the historic ties of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel and Jerusalem are clear.

Even the Director General of UNESCO, Irina Kokova stated, “In the Torah, Jerusalem is the capital of King David, where Solomon built the Temple and placed the Ark of the Covenant.”

We now understand why the Torah needed to start from the creation and tell us the whole story as our enemies are stealing and destroying our artifacts which tell the story of our claim to the Land of Israel, the City of Jerusalem and the Temple Mount.

 
Each Shabbat We Become Partners in Creation Print E-mail
Tuesday, 06 October 2015

In Parshat Breisheet (Breisheet 1:31-2:1-3) we read about the completion of the creation of the world: “And God saw all that He had made, and behold it was very good. It became evening and it became morning, the sixth day. The heavens and the earth were completed, and so were their conglomerations. God completed by the seventh day His work which He had made, and He abstained on the seventh day from all His work which He had made. God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, for on it He abstained from all His work, which God created to do.”

Did God create anything on Shabbat itself?

According to Rashi the concept of rest had not yet been created. With the coming of Shabbat came rest and when rest was created the creation was complete.

On Friday night, we recite “Vayechulu HaShamayim V’HaAretz ”, “The heavens and the earth were completed” (Breisheet 2:1-3) three times, once in the Amida (silently), once with the entire congregation in unison and once at home while reciting Kiddush over wine.

In the Talmud, Shabbat 119b, we learn from Rava or from Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi that even if one prays as an individual on Friday night (not with a minyan) they should still recite “Vayechulu HaShamayim V’HaAretz ” as Rav Hamnuna said: Whoever prays on the eve of Shabbat and says “Vayechulu…” is treated by Scripture as if they became a partner with God in the creation…

According to Maharsha, God’s creation would have fallen short of its purpose unless people acknowledged Him as the creator.

In Breisheet Raba 10:9 we find a parable of a king who had a chupa ready, the only thing that was missing was a bride! When the world was created there was just one thing missing, Shabbat.

Each Friday, as we set aside our work for 25 hours and declare how God created the first Shabbat, we once again become partners in the creation of the world.

 

 
God Planned the Changes in Nature at the Time of Creation Print E-mail
Thursday, 16 October 2014

In Breisheet 1:9 God said: “Let the waters beneath the heaven be gathered (yikavu hamayim) into one area and let the dry land appear.” And it was so.

 

According to Yalkut Shimoni the word “yikavu” comes from the word tikva, hope. It means that the waters will do whatever is necessary to help God in the future (even if it seems outside of the realm of nature).

 

Rabbi Yochanan in Breisheet Raba 5:5 points out that at the time of creation, God already planned for the splitting of the sea at the time of the Exodus from Egypt.

 

Rabbi Yirmiyahu ben Elazar takes this concept a step further and adds that at the time of creation God planned all of the changes in nature that would take place, not just the splitting of the sea. As it says in Kohelet 3:14, “I realized that whatever God does will endure forever: Nothing can be added to it and nothing can be subtracted from it…” In Yishayahu 45:12 we read: “I made the earth and created mankind upon it; It is I, My hands spread out the heavens and I commanded all hosts to come into existence.”

 

The Midrash continues, I commanded the heaven and the earth to be silenced before Moshe (in Parshat HaAzinu “HaAzinu HaShamayim VaAdabera…”, “Give ear, O heavens and I will speak…”). I commanded the sun and the moon to stand before Yehoshua (Yehoshua 10:12) at the time that he fought the Emorite kings (“Shemesh B’Givon don viyareach b’Emek Ayalon”, “Sun, stand still at Givon and moon in the Valley of Ayalon.” I commanded the ravens to feed Eliyahu HaNavi at the time that he was hiding from King Ahav (Melachim I, 17:4, 6: “I have commanded the ravens to supply you with food there…”, “The ravens would bring him bread and meat in the morning and bread and meat in the evening…”). I commanded the fire not to harm Chananya, Mishael and Azarya when Nevuchadnezar, King of Bavel threw them into the fiery furnace. I commanded the lions not to harm Daniel in the lion’s den. I commanded the skies to open up for Yechezkel (Yechezkel 1:1) “The heavens opened and I saw visions of God.” I commanded the fish to spit out Jonah (Jonah 2:11) “Then God addressed the fish and it spewed Jonah onto dry land.”

 

We see from here that at the time of creation God knew that unusual circumstances would come up throughout history and he therefore planned accordingly.

 

 
Turning the Lights Back On Print E-mail
Friday, 12 October 2012

Part of Chava’s punishment is (Breisheet 3:16): “I will greatly increase your suffering (itzvonech) and your pregnancy (heronech). You will give birth to children with pain (be’etzev teldi vanim)…”

 

According to the Gemara in Eruvin 100b, the word “itzvonceh”, your suffering, refers to the anguish of raising children, The word “heronceh”, your pegnancy, refers to the pain of pregnancy. The words “be’etzev teldi vanim”, you will give birth to children with pain, refers to the pain of childbirth.

 

In Breisheet Raba 20:6 the word “vanim” is explained as the anguish of raising children.

 

Once the babies are born, we spend the rest of our lives raising them.

 

Many women say extra prayers and techinot when they are pregnant and/or in labor but it is important to pray for our children when we are raising them as well.

 

It says in the Gemara in Shabbat 23b: Rav Huna said: One who is habitual in lighting the light (candles) will have sons who are Torah scholars.

 

Rashi comments that in Mishlei, Proverbs 6:23 it says “For the commandment is a lamp and the Torah is light.” By observing the mitzvah of lighting Shabbat and Chanuka candles one brings the light of Torah into the world.

 

In  Mishlei 20:27 we read: “The spirit of man is the candle of the Lord”.

 

The Midrash in Tanchuma states that Chava extinguished Adam’s “candle” by giving him the fruit to eat.

 

By lighting the Shabbat candles, the woman is making a tikkun (correction) for Chava’s mistake and turning the lights back on.

 

Many women add the following prayer after lighting Shabbat candles:

 

May it be Your will Hashem, my God and God of my forefathers, that you will show favor to me and all of my relatives; and that you grant us and all of Israel a good and long life; that you remember us with beneficent memory and blessing; that you consider us with a consideration of salvation and compassion; that you bless us with great blessings; that you make our households complete; that You cause Your presence to dwell among us. Privilege me to raise children and grandchildren who are wise and understanding, who love Hashem and fear God, people of truth, holy offspring, attached to Hashem, who illuminate the world with Torah and good deeds and with every labor and service to the Creator. Please hear my supplication at this time, in the merit of Sarah, Rivka, Rachel and Leah and cause our light to illuminate and not be extinguished forever and let our countenance shine so that we are saved, Amen.

 
Vayiven: God “Built” the Woman Print E-mail
Friday, 16 October 2009

In Parshat Breisheet 2:20-23 we read: And HaAdam assigned names to all the cattle and to the birds of the sky and to every beast of the field; but as for man, he did not find an “ezer k’negdo”, helper corresponding to him. So God cast a deep sleep upon HaAdam and he slept; and God took one of the sides of HaAdam and God filled in flesh in its place. Then “vayiven” (God fashioned) the side that He had taken from HaAdam into Isha (a woman) and He brought her to the man. And the man said, “This time it is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh. She shall be called Isha (woman) for from Ish (man) she was taken”.

 

Rabbi Shimshon Rephael Hirsch explains that the woman’s body was not taken from the earth but rather from the side of HaAdam so that the single human being HaAdam became two separate beings, demonstrating irrefutably the equality of man and woman.

 

In the Talmud, Niddah 45b Rav Chisda teaches that women mature faster than men (ie a young woman has her Bat Mitzvah a year before a young man has his Bar Mitzvah) this is derived from the word in our pasuk “vayiven” which teaches that God gave “bina yetera”, greater powers of understanding, insight and intuitive intelligence to a woman than to a man.

 

Rabbi Benjamin Blech points out that unfortunately throughout Jewish history women have not always been treated equally since Jews were affected by their environments as well as by the currents of foreign cultures in which they lived.

 

It is clear when we return to the creation story that God’s intent was to create women and men as separate yet equal.

 
A Tribute to Nehama Leibowitz Print E-mail
Friday, 24 October 2008

In chapter 2 of Breisheet, the first woman is created. The woman is called “Isha” as it says in Breisheet 2:23 “And the man said, this is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called woman because she was taken out of man (ki meish lookcha zot)”.

 

In chapter 3 sentence 20, the woman is called “Chava”: “The man called his wife’s name Chava because she was mother of all of the living (em kol chai)”.

 

Nehama Leibowitz brings down a commentary from the Akedat Yitzchak (Rabbi Isaac Arama 1420-1494):

 

The two names, “Isha” and “Chava” indicate two purposes. The first one, “Isha” teaches that woman was taken from man, stressing that like him you may understand and advance in the intellectual and moral field just as did the matriarchs and many righteous women and prophetesses and as the literal meaning of Eshet Chayil (Woman of Valor Proverbs 31) indicates. The second, “Chava”, alludes to the power of childbearing and rearing children as is indicated in the name “Chava”, mother of all of the living. A woman deprived of the power of childbearing will be deprived of the secondary purpose and will be left with the ability to do evil or good like the man who is barren. Of both the barren man and woman Yishayahu (56:5) states: “I have given them in My house and in My walls a name that is better than sons and daughters”.

 

Nehama Leibowitz (1905-1997) lived in Israel and was a teacher of Torah to thousands, maybe millions of people through classes, lectures, worksheets (which Nehama mailed out to people all over the world and personally corrected and mailed back) and books. Nehama exemplified an “Isha”. Since Nehama was not able to bear children, she did not fulfill the role of “Chava” in the formal sense. However, there is a quote from the Gemara in Sanhedrin 19b “Whoever teaches someone else's child Torah is considered as if he had given birth to him”. In that case, Nehama Leibowitz fulfilled the role of “Chava”, mother of thousands, possibly even millions of children from varied backgrounds throughout the world.

  

PSALMS AT THE WESTERN WALL FOR YOU OR A LOVED ONE CAN BE ARRANGED BY TORAT REVA YERUSHALAYIM

Torat Reva Yerushalayim is proud to give you the opportunity to have a learned person recite Psalms on your behalf on a weekly basis at the Kotel (Western Wall).

Jacob, our Forefather calls Jerusalem “The gate of heaven”. According to Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan z”l, “Just as things can go in through a gate, so can they emerge. Thus, all spiritual sustenance and blessing come only through Jerusalem , as it is written, ‘God will bless you from Zion ’ (Psalms 128:5). It is taught in the Zohar that God first sends a blessing to Jerusalem , and from there it flows to the entire world. Today, when the Temple no longer stands, the source of this blessing is the Western Wall.”

Tehillim (Psalms) at the Western Wall can be recited on your behalf for the following:

  • Health/ Recovery from an illness
  • Healthy childbirth
  • Shidduch (finding a mate)
  • Thanksgiving
  • Livelihood & success
  • Divine guidance
  • Troublesome times
  • Repentance
  • Peace

With your monthly donation of $18 or more (or yearly donation of $180 or more) to Torat Reva Yerushalayim, you will be performing the important mitzvah of contributing toward the Torah education of the forgotten population of senior citizens in Jerusalem, while having your prayers recited by a learned person at the footsteps of Judaism’s holiest site.

Your contribution can be made by mailing a check to Torat Reva Yerushalayim,

75 Berkeley Avenue , Yonkers , NY 10705 or via Paypal, by clicking on the link below and scrolling down to the “Make A Donation” button.

http://toratreva.org/Joomla/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=7&Itemid=7

Please email This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it or call 718-593-4162 if you would like to take part in this exciting project!

 
What Really Happened in the Field? Print E-mail
Wednesday, 18 October 2006

In Parshat Breisheet 4:8 we encounter a perplexing account: "Kayin said to his brother Hevel. It happened when they were in the field (sadeh), that Kayin rose up against his brother Hevel and killed him."

The pasuk never tells us what their conversation was about.

Breisheet Raba 22:7 gives us insight into three different possibilities as to what Kayin and Hevel may have been arguing about:

1. Materialism: The pasuk mentions that they were in the field so their conversation must have had something to do with a field or land. They said: "Lets divide up the world." Kayin said, "You take the moveable property and I will take the immovable property (This makes sense since Hevel was a shepherd and Kayin worked the land). Kayin said, "The land that you are standing on is mine, go fly away." Hevel said, "The clothing that you are wearing is mine." Kayin tried to chase Hevel off of his property and ultimately killed him.

2. Religion: According to Rabbi Yehoshua of Sachnin who quotes Rabbi Levi, they were fighting concerning the sadeh, field, which is traditionally how the Beit Hamikdash was referred to. One said "On my land the Beit Hamikdash will be built" and the other said "On my land the Beit HaMikdash will be built. Their argument continued until Kayin finally killed Hevel.

3.Women: a person is referred to in the chumash as a field (Dvarim 20:19: Ki HaAdam etz Hasadeh). According to Yehudah Bar Ami they were fighting over Chava. Rabbi Ivo points out that Chava was no longer alive so they couldn't have been fighting over her. Rabbi Huna's opinion is that Hevel was born with a twin sister which they both wanted to marry. Their fight over a woman caused Kayin to kill Hevel.

All we have to do today is open up the newspaper and find that unfortunately we have still not learned our lesson. Most murders are still committed for the same reasons that we find in Breisheet Raba: materialism, religion and male-female relationships.

 
Why Does The Torah Begin With The Creation? Print E-mail
Wednesday, 26 October 2005
The Torah begins with the words "Breisheet bara Elokim et hashamayim ve‚et ha'aretz", "In the beginning God created heaven and earth."

Rashi asks why the Torah begins with a description of the creation of the world. After all, isn't the Torah a book of mizvot, commandments and laws? Isn't the Torah careful not to waste words? Shouldn't the Torah skip the account of the creation as well as the accounts of our forefathers and fore mothers? Wouldn't it make sense for the Torah to begin after the Exodus of Egypt with the first mitzvah that the Jewish people were commanded as a nation, the mitzvah of Rosh Chodesh (the new moon)?

Rashi's answer is that the description of the creation is necessary since it proves the Jewish people's claim to the Land of Israel. If the nations say to the Jewish people, "You are robbers, you have taken by force the land of the seven nations", then Israel can reply "All the earth belongs to God. He created it and gave it to whomever he saw fit. It was His will to give it to them and it was His will to take it from them and give it to us."

In the rest of Sefer Breisheet, we again see God's promise of the Land of Israel to Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov and their descendants and the promise is again reaffirmed to Moshe at the beginning of Sefer Shmot.

We can see from here that God did not "waste" the first book and a half of the Torah on the stories of the creation and the birth of the Jewish people. Rather, God wanted to emphasize the origins of the world in general and the Land of Israel in particular to show how special and unique the land is and why the Jewish people are destined to inherit it.

We are privileged to have the State of Israel today and we must do what we can to fulfill God's promise of the Land of Israel to the Jewish people.