Parshat
Bereishit

A Student Publication of the Isaac and Mara Benmergui Torah Academy of Bergen County
Parshat Bereishit            29 Tishrei 5763              October 5, 2002              Vol.12 No.1b


In This Issue:

Rabbi Ezra Wiener
Ari Michael
Eitan Rapps
Chaim Cohen

Rabbi Howard Jachter

This week's issue of Kol Torah has been sponsored by Aviva, Shmiel, Racheli, Ilan, and Tali Ramrasin celebration of the birth of their new son and brother, Amitai Zechariah




A Special Place
by Rabbi Ezra Wiener

"And God planted a garden in Eden Mikedem." Rashi explains that the Torah is merely describing the location in Eden where the garden was placed.

Unkeles explains Mikedem with the term Milakdimin, "From before." Yonatan ben Uziel is more specific: Ginota MaEden Olam Litzikia Kedem Briat Olam, " [Hashem established] a garden from Eden for the righteous even prior to the creation of the world."
Ramban subscribes to the interpretation of Unkeles and explains that the Torah is teaching us that even prior to the command of "Let the earth give forth grass," Hashem had already commanded that a garden should appear in Eden.

The Pasuk therefore is not teaching us that the garden was in the East but rather that the garden was planted prior to the creation of any other greenery on the third day of creation.

By creating a home for Adam prior to anything else on the third day, Hashem is demonstrating the importance of the relationship that he hopes to establish with man. Man is created in the image of God and therefore receives special attention.

With this approach to the Pasuk we can understand the following Beracha in the Sheva Berachot: Samayach Tisamach Rayim Ahuvin Kisamaychicha Yitzircha Bigan Eden Mikedem. We charge the Chatan and Kalah (Bride and Groom): "Rejoice!" and the simile is used: "Rejoice as your creator made you happy in Bigan Eden Mikedem." If Mikedem meant east it is most certainly a superfluous term. Rather, we are blessing the Chatan and Kalah that when Hashem sought to establish a special relationship with Adam, He did so by creating a garden specially for him prior to creating anything else. So too, the new Chatan and Kalah should demonstrate their love for one another throughout their lives by giving to one another in a fashion that creates an everlasting bond between them.

 

Recreating Ourselves
by Ari Michael

Why does the Torah, primarily a Book of Laws and Values, begin with the act of the creation of the world, "In the beginning the Lord created the heavens and the earth?" So ask the major commentaries on the Bible (most notably Rashi and the Ramban), each providing his particular response.

Rav Soloveitchik takes the approach of the Midrash, which, assuming that we understand the importance of imitating Hashem, phrases it this way: "Just as Hashem created worlds, so you must create worlds."

Rav Soloveitchik then explained the manner in which we are to copy Hashem. During Maaseh Bereishit, Hashem created the first human being by taking a clod of dirt, representing the fragile and physical in the world, and infusing it with His own divine breath of eternity and creativity. In a similar manner, each of us must take the raw material within each of us, the animalistic drives and genetic pool which make up our individual personalities and infuse ourselves with spirituality. This is the basic process of Teshuva, in which the individual demonstrates his most divine quality of creativity by re-creating himself.

To deepen our understanding of this concept, Rav Soloveitchik takes us into the intricacies of the Rambam's interpretation of repentance. In Hilchot Teshuva (1:1), he states that the first, and seemingly main, part of Teshuva is Vidui, a verbal confession. However, verbal confession is different from inner repentance!?

If this were the consistent view of Rambam, it would be strange, but acceptable, that he highlights Vidui. Yet, when the Talmud (Kiddushin 49b) forms a case in which a wicked individual proposes marriage to a woman, presenting her with a ring in front of two witnesses, stating that she is engaged to him on condition that he is a Tzaddik, she is considered engaged; As Rambam rules in his Laws of Marriage: "If he says on the condition that I am a righteous man, even though he may be thoroughly wicked, since it is possible that he has thoughts of repentance, she is considered married (Ch.8 Hal.5)." But a thought in one's mind is hardly a confession on one's lips! If indeed Rambam requires Vidui, the aforementioned case clearly lacks the necessary verbal formulation.

Rav Soloveitchik explained that according to Rambam there are two aspects to repentance. External, verbal confession (Vidui) which is in the realm of Kappara, and internal repentance (Teshuva), which belongs to realm of Tahara. A sin has a double effect. First of all, it sullies the world, and the society. That damage has to be removed; that black spot has to be covered over. Kappara literally means to cover, as in the Kaporet covering the Aron. Things such as monetary restitution in sins between people, sacrifices in sins towards Hashem, combined with a verbal and external confession restores the upset balance which the sin brought into the world - serving as a Kappara. This a necessary first step, and so Rambam discusses repentance in his first chapter.

But, continued Rav Soloveitchik, there must follow a second stage. After all, sin not only sullies the world, it also sullies the soul of the sinner! The human being must re-order his priorities, cleanse his soul from impurity, and recast his personality. For this, external confession and external covering over (Kappara) are not sufficient. This requires an internal change, a transformation, and a personality re-formation. This is Teshuvah or inner repentance, and leads to Tahara, or purification.

Hence, in the second chapter of the Laws of Repentance (Ch.2 Hal.2), Rambam speaks of a sinner leaving sin and turning away from his old thoughts, accepting upon himself new conduct. He gives himself a changed identity, a new name, declaring that he is not the same one who committed the transgression. In this way, as a result of this re-creation of self, yesterday the individual may have been alienated and despised by Hashem while today he is a beloved and intimate friend of the Divine as the Ramabam describes in the seventh chapter of Hilchot Teshuva. The greatest and most majestic expression of our creativity is when we re-create ourselves.

 

A Lesson for "Us"
by Eitan Rapps

In Parshat Bereishit, 1:26 it says: "And Hashem said let us make man in our image…." The Midrash learns that the "us" in the Pasuk, according to one opinion, refers to the Malachim. If they did not really assist Hashem with the creation of man, why does Hashem "ask" their opinion on it? It seems that this phrase can be used to disprove that there is only one god in the world, so why is it here?

The Midrash answers that this Pasuk is here to teach us a lesson. Hashem teaches us the concept of humility. Even the greater one (Hashem) should consult the permission of the lesser ones (Malachim). Since it writes, "let us make," and not "I will make," we can learn that He actually consulted the consent of the Malachim. This lesson is a very important one in the sense that no matter how great you are, even the smallest minority has a say in the matter, and everyone's opinion is important.

 

A Man Needs a Wife
by Chaim Cohen

In this week's Parsha it says Lo Tov Lihiot Adam Livado, "It is not good for man to be alone." (2:18). Cassuto points out the difference in terms that Lo is a definitive no, while Ain is not necessarily bad or good. Why must the Torah use such strong words here? What is really so bad about man being wrong? The Gemara in Yevamot (63a) says, "How does a woman help a man? The man brings the wheat, but he cannot eat it raw. He brings the flax, but cannot wear it. He has no one to direct him." The Seforno expands saying that a man cannot reach his full potential alone, not spiritually nor in the physical world. He needs a woman to reach his full potential. If man is created in Hashem's image it is not good at all because he cannot fulfill his full potential, and walk in Hashem's way. We should all be Zocheh to fulfill our potential and walk in the ways of God.

 

Halacha of the Week
One who has been honored with an Aliya should take the shortest route to the Torah and a longer route when he returns to his seat after his Aliya (Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 141:7).

 

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