Shabbos Breishis

This Shabbos is referred to as Shabbos Breishis, as opposed to other Shabbosos that we call it Shabbos Parshas Noach and the like. The Gemara in Baba Basra 121a actually refers to every Shabbos as “Shabbos Breishis” in the context that Shabbos does not require Kiddush Beis Din as opposed to the holidays of the year. However, the Minhag Yisrael is to refer to this Shabbos in particular as Shabbos Breishis which would seem to imply that that with this Shabbos we are beginning something new. But it’s a bit difficult to feel that way being that we’ve been here and done that many times before.

The first Rashi, quoting Reb Yitzchak asks that it wasn’t necessary for the Torah to begin with the story of creation but rather only with החדש הזה לכם-the first Mitzvah of Kiddush HaChodesh. What is the significance of the Mitzvah of Kiddush HaChodesh that the Torah should’ve began with it as opposed to Breishis?

We see that our ability and mission to be מקדש defines us as we say in Kiddush Levana עטרת תפארת לעמוסי בטן שהם עתידים להתחדש כמותה, that the Levana is considered a crown of beauty for the Jewish people. Additionally we say in the Musaf of Rosh Chodesh כי בעמך ישראל בחרת מכל האמות וחקי ראשי חדשים להם קבעת, that this idea is directly connected to the בחירה of Klal Yisrael that we are מקדש חדשים. And as the Gemara in Brachos 49 says ישראל דקדשינהו לזמנים and that’s why we say מקדש ישראל והזמים. So we see the fact that we are מקדש the זמנים is a consequence of our קדושה. What exactly does that all mean?

There are two types of time. There is natural time, such as the seasons of the year. There is spring, summer, autumn, fall and the Pasuk says about them לא ישבותו-they repeat themselves. Breishis is about natural time which is cyclical. This is all reflected in the solar year which is based on the world going around the sun. As opposed to the concept of a lunar year, there is no objective meaning, rather it’s a human invention. (See Rashi in Breishis 1: 14 and the רא"ם there, and the Ibn Ezra in Shemos 12:2, all discuss this idea that there really is no such thing as a Lunar year).

Additionally, the Pasuk in Koheles 1:5-6 says וזרח השמש ובא השמש ואל מקומו שואף זורח הוא שם הולך אל דרום וסובב אל צפון סובב סבב הולך הרוח ועל סביבתיו שב הרוח regarding the motion of the sun, describing how it comes back. This is all a description of the cycle of nature. The Ran in Nedarim 25a quoting the Yerushalmi says אין מרובע בבריות-there are no squares among creatures. A square is man-made shape, with human input as opposed to creation which is cyclical. (Rav Hirsch says this idea in Parshas Terumah about theמזבח , on the Pasuk רבוע יהיה-to say that we are not to worship the forces of nature which are round but we are to take control of nature and shape reality.)

The Pasuk in Tehillim 12:9 says סביב רשעים יתהלכון that רשעים are going in circles. If a person lives this natural life, then you’re just living a life that repeats itself and there is no real progress.

But there is also historical time which is linear and moves forward. החדש הזה לכם is about historical time, meaning that we start counting from יציאת מצרים all the Moadim. On one hand, they are connected to the seasons such as אביב, קציר and אסיף, which is on the level which reflects the natural course of events. But we took charge and changed it into historical time with יציאת מצרים, מתן תורה, בסוכות הושבתי. It’s not just the natural course of events rather we give it meaning which allows for real progress. The Torah by saying ושמר את האביב requires us to connect these two ideas, that we can impact the real world and it shouldn’t just be going in circles rather it should be real progress. We give a dimension of progress to time and historic time doesn’t revolve, it evolves. This is why וחקי ראשי חדשים להם קבעת really defines who we are.

Therefore, even though we’ve read Parshas Breishis so many times before, but when we start a new year, we start anew where we are moving forward and not just repeating. In the beginning of Vzos HaBrachah, the Pasuk says תורה צוה לנו משה מורשה קהלת יעקב. Chazal are דורש this Pasuk saying אל תקרי מורשה אלא מאורסה.

But how could it be that Chazal are switching the entire meaning of the Pasuk because מורשה and מאורסה are seemingly diametrically opposed. A מורשה is ירושה and קנינים apply to ירושה because the מעשה קנין is just bringing something that already exists into my ownership, like it says in Behar כי תמכרו ממכר לעמיתך וכו' that the ממכר existed before it was mine. The chiddush of Yerushah is that even without a מעשה קנין, an item can be transferred from a father to a son בירושה. However, מאורסה, although the Torah calls it a קנין because the Pasuk says כי יקח איש וכו', it’s a completely different kind of Kinyan because it’s not like she owned the אישות and now its transferred to the husband rather there was no אישות before the man was מקדש her and only once he is מקדש her does he create this אישות. Therefore a person can’t sell this אישות to someone else, and for sure one can’t be מוריש this to someone else.

So when the Torah is called a מורשה, it’s because it is something that is to be transmitted from generation to generation automatically even without understanding it-without a מעשה קנין. Whereas when Chazal refer to it as מאורסה, you are creating the connection and making something new. Therefore, these two meaning are a תרתי דסתרי?

The מנחת שי in צפניה says that when there is a דרשה of אל תקרי, it’s not to remove the simple understanding but that they are both true. The Ksav Vkabalah actually proves this that when Chazal are דורש something as an אל תיקרי, it’s not to say that it’s not this way but only this way. Rather both ways of reading it are true. He proves this from the Pasuk in Parshas Bo that says ושמרתם את המצות (יב,יז). On this Pasuk, Rashi writes the following:

ושמרתם את המצות - שלא יבאו לידי חמוץ מכאן אמרו תפח,י תלטוש בצונן. רבי יאשיה אומר אל תהי קורא את המצות אלא את המצוות,כ כדרך שאין מחמיצין את המצה כך אין מחמיצין את המצווה אלא אם באה לידך עשה אותה מיד.

If it was true that it’s only read מצוות, then we would no longer know the Halacha of watching Matzah to prevent חימוץ. It must be that both ways of reading the Pasuk. The answer to this question really lies within the question itself because when Chazal say “אל תיקרי”, they are not erasing the written word, because the written word is מורשה-the written Torah, the תרשב"כ, which is an inheritance and it will always remain as it and it’s not changeable. תורשב"כ can be referred to as a מורשה because it is something that doesn’t change, just like an item that gets acquired, it remains the same before and after the Kinyan takes place and every Jew is connected to it automatically.

But the “תיקרי”, the reading that Chazal said is מאורסה because the תיקרי is novel, new, and personal, and every generation has its own reading of the inherited מורשה. The תורשבע"פ is referred to a מאורסה because it’s something that every Jew can create. The Zohar in the beginning of Breishis (4a) says on the Pasuk in Yeshaya: השמים החדשה והארץ החדשה, it’s referring to Chidushei Torah which create new heavens (see the קצות החושן in his introduction about this) that Talmidei Chachamim make new Torah. So it’s a creation that is created in the context of a close, personal and intimate connection with the Torah and therefore it is referred to as מאורסה because a מאורסה is not just a technical Kinyan but it’s involves an emotional closeness and excitement and this is in the context of the learning of תורשבע"פ.

We say in the Shmoneh Esrei על הצדיקים ועל החסידים ועל זקני עמך בית ישראל ועל פליטת סופריהם ועל גרי הצדק וכו'. Why are the גרים put together with the צדיקים and the חסידים? The Gemara in Megilah 17b already discusses this and says וכולל גירי הצדק עם הצדיקים שנאמר מפני שיבה תקום והדרת פני זקן, וסמיך ליה וכי יגור אתכם גר. But what really is the connection that they are put together? It could also be for the reason mentioned above by the תורשבע"פ, that by גרים where there is no מורשה, there is a stronger emphasis of מאורסה which the foundation of תורשבע"פ. Reb Tzadok Hakohen in מחשבות חרוץ (פרק יט) writes that Reb Akiva, because he was from גרים, was זוכה to see things in Torah that Moshe Rabbeinu couldn’t see. Because the אהבת תורה והתגלות is more by theגרים then born Jews. So the הצדיקים ועל החסידים ועל זקני עמך בית ישראל are the ones that carry the מורשה but it’s the גרים who carry it as the מאורסה and therefore play more of a role in the creation of the תורשבע"פ which comes from the intimate relationship and the אהבה is stronger for the outsider who connects. The Gemara in Yoma 71a records the following story with שמעיה ואבטליון who were גרים:

מעשה בכהן גדול אחד שיצא מבית המקדש, והוו אזלי כולי עלמא בתריה. כיון דחזיונהו לשמעיה ואבטליון - שבקוהו לדידיה ואזלי בתר שמעיה ואבטליון. לסוף אתו שמעיה ואבטליון לאיפטורי מיניה דכהן גדול אמר להן: ייתון בני עממין לשלם! - אמרו ליה: ייתון בני עממין לשלם - דעבדין עובדא דאהרן, ולא ייתי בר אהרן לשלם - דלא עביד עובדא דאהרן.

When the Kohen Gadol said to them ייתון בני עממין לשלם, it was לשון גנאי because they were descendants of סנחריב. But what were they saying back the Kohen Gadol when they said ייתון בני עממין לשלם - דעבדין עובדא דאהרן, ולא ייתי בר אהרן לשלם - דלא עביד עובדא דאהרן? The Kozhnitzer Maggid in his sefer עבודת ישראל explained that they were expressing that the level of the Avodah of the Kohen Gadol on Yom Kippur was dependent on the level that was reached in the learning of תורשבע"פ. The reason is because Yom Kippur is יום חתונתו as is recorded in the Mishnayos at the end of Taanis and as Rashi says יום מתן לוחות אחרונות לישראל. And as the Beis HaLevi and others write that the whole מהלך of תורשבע"פ is rooted in the Luchos Shniyos because had we only had the Luchos Rishonos, we would’ve only had the תורשבע"פ. It comes out that Yom Kippur, which is a day of the Luchos Shniyos-תורשבע"פ, has an effect on the Kohen Gadols service in the לפני ולפנים that the level of the Avodah of the Kohen Gadol on Yom Kippur was dependent on the level that was reached in the learning of תורשבע"פ. Therefore, even though the Kohen Gadol is the greatest מיוחס among Jews, nonetheless it’s the non מיוחס the בני עממין, through the level they reach in תורשבע"פ which allows the Kohen Gadol to accomplish what needs to be accomplished in the קודש הקדשים.

In our generations, we see as the מורשה is weakened, the מאורסה is empowered just like by גרים. Therefore, nowadays in a sense we are all like גרים because we are all so far away and disconnected from the מורשה and therefore we have the ability to make a connection with Torah specifically from a place of ריחוק and lack of מורשה, because from there is where the greatest אהבה and מאורסה can come about.

Appeasing the Moon

There is so much to say on Parshas Breishis. This single Parshas spans a 1500 year period as opposed to the entire Sefer Devarim which took only five weeks. The sun and moon were created the same size but Hashem diminished the moon because it claimed אי אפשר לשני מלכים שישתמשו בכתר אחד. Hashem gave the stars to the moon in order to appease the moon. But how is that an appeasement, if the moon remained smaller? It could be said על דרך צחות that when you know there is something else smaller than you, it makes you feel better about yourself.

Baal HaTurim

By the חטא of eating from the עץ הדעת, Adam responds to Hashem האשה אשר נתתה עמדי הוא נתנה לי מן העץ ואכל. The Baal Haturim (which legend has it was written all ליל פורים, although there is no evidence to such a legend) on the words היא נתנה לי מן העץ ואכל writes לפי הפשט שהכתני בעץ עד כי שמעתי לדבריה-she hit him with a stick until he listened to her. (Most likely this line was not said by the Baal Haturim. There is a sefer which sourced this line back to עמנואל הרומי who was a controversial figure in the 1300s in Italy and it would seem that some writer inserted it into the Baal Haturim) The Rav added that nevertheless Adam Harishon was expected to be מכיר טוב for his wife as is seen by when he said האשה אשר נתתה עמדי, Rashi says כאן כפר בטובה.

Also, on the Pasuk ותתן גם לאישה, Rashi says שלא תמות היא ויחיה הוא וישא אשה אחרת. At this point in history, there was no one else in world except for them two. And still Chava was worried שלא תמות היא ויחיה הוא וישא אשה אחרת. When it comes to insecurity and worrying, there doesn’t need to be a logic or reality for it and even when it doesn’t make so much sense, a person could still worry.

Rule over the Zoo Within

By the creation of man, the Pasuk says ויאמר אלהים נעשה אדם בצלמנו כדמותנו וירדו בדגת הים ובעוף השמים ובבהמה. After the Pasuk describes the greatness of man being created בצלמנו כדמותנו, it immediately says וירדו בדגת הים ובעוף השמים ובבהמה as if to say that man’s mission and sole purpose is to rule over all the animals. This is seemingly an odd thing to have written in describing the mission statement of man.

To explain this, the Rav read the following from the שערי תשובה (שער א אות י):

והנה הבורא נפח באפי נשמת חיים חכמת לב וטובת שכל להכירו וליראה מלפניו ולמשול בגוף וכל תולדותיו כאשר המשילה על שאר בעלי חיים שאינם מדברים מאשר יקרה בעיניו נכבדה

Rabbeinu Yonah is comparing how a person is to rule over his own גוף just like he rules over שאר בעלי חיים שאינם מדברים and Hashem gave him this power to rule over himself just life he has this power to rule over שאר בעלי חיים.

A person, to an extent, has within him the beast, a נפש בהמות, and it’s his mission in life to control and contain the zoo that some of us have within us. That’s the message of the Pasuk that man’s mission statement is וירדו בדגת הים ובעוף השמים ובבהמה, to control, contain, and harness the beast within.


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