Bereshit – At the Beginning


bereshit.gifThis week we start reading very important parsha – parsha that talks about the creation of the Universe – both material and spiritual – Parsha Bereshit.I have no words to depict the complexity and richness of every single letter/punctuation/etc as a lot has been written on the topic and I’ll be definitely not a match. That being said, I do want to share with you my personal discovery, and though it is very small and probably insignificant, I feel tramendous joy as I finally resolved the issue that was bothering me for quite some time.

It is said: “Bereshit Bara Elokim at HaShamaim v-at HaAretz”, which roughly translates to “In the beginning G-d Created heavens and earth”. What bothered me the most was the fact that according to Kabbalah the whole creation was already completed on the forth word of the first sentence – “at” (which in Hebrew is a preposition and therefore isn’t translated  – one of many reasons why Torah and other holy scriptures lose their meaning once they’re translated to another language).

The preposition “At” consists from two Hebrew letters – Aleph and Tav, and since our corporeal/material universe (including cosmos and all galaxies that we know of or yet to discover) where created with 22 Hebrew letters (and the five spiritual wolrds where created with the five ending letters) the first occurrence of this preposition signifies the fact that it is the creation of Malcut – the last emination of Divine Existance. Moreover do note that it is the forth word in the sentence which hints to the world of Asiya – the last of four spiritual worlds that were created (i.e. Atzilut, Beriya, Yetzira, Asiya) and therefore the preposition hints to the creation of Malchut of Olam HaAsiya, in Kabbalistic language Malcut De-Asiya (each time preposition “de” is used it implies “part of”).

What I couldn’t figure out is how come after Malchut De-Asiya was created, and obviosuly everything which was part of it was created at that moment, the Torah keeps telling us about the creation of Heaven and Earth, vegetation and water and even human life, which is part of Malchut De-Asiya.

I found answer to my dilemma in Rashi. Rashi tells us that even though it is said that vegetation/water/man/etc was created on day X, what it really means is that this object was merely placed into existence, however the actual creation happened before the action of placement took place!

Now we can see that there is no conflict between Sod and Pshat – Kabbalah and Simple Meaning of Torah – even though the actual act of creation was completed at the forth word of Torah the actual placement happened in the sentences that follow.

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3 Responses to Bereshit – At the Beginning

  1. Malkhut de Assiya is a part of spiritual world Assiya, and Malkut deAssiya itself is devided into 10 Sfirrot when only the 10th one which is Malkhut deMalkhut de Assiya is “this” world, so 9th first sfirrot are the creativity center, and the 10th one is the exibihion Hall, and it is Erretz Israel, which is the only corporal part of the universe connected directly with the spiritual world Assiya. Erretz Israel ie the Ketter of Mallkut deMalkhut de Assiya, while 9th Takhtonot are in the rest of the Arretz.

    As Zohar explains that Berreshit is A”A de Atzilut, and trough the BY”A the Creation came in potential and them was matirealized in Malkhut de Malkut de Assiya by Hittcolelut ( through being included) into higher spiritual worlds, and so having potential of developing till their level.

  2. Maharal
    by Rabbi Shaya Karlinsky
    Chapter 1: Mishna 2: Part 1

    Shimon HaTzakik was of the remnants (last members) of the Great
    Assembly. He used to say: On three things the world stands. On Torah,
    on Service of G-d, and on deeds of kindness.

    What is the significance of Shimon HaTzadik being one of the last
    members of the Great Assembly? This is another indication that ethical
    reproofs are tailored to each generation, and prior to the Great
    Assembly these reproofs were not necessary. The generation of Shimon
    HaTzadik, the last survivor of the Great Assembly, was the first
    generation to have only select individuals able to transmit the Torah.
    His teachings were motivated by the anticipated limitations of the
    forthcoming generations, which would have a particular need for them.

    After the Anshei Knesset Hagedolah taught about rectifying
    deficiencies in state of the Torah in the world, Shimon HaTzakik comes
    to teach about the foundations of that world and how to ensure its
    continued existence.

    But why are these three elements singled out as being the foundations
    of the world? While these are wonderful things, aren’t there other
    things that also support the world?

    (This kind of question is important to ask when studying the words of
    our Rabbis. We are likely to superficially read this Mishna, and be
    satisfied to think that the Rabbis are just telling us how REALLY
    wonderful are Torah, service of G-d, and deeds of kindness. But that
    isn’t what they have told us. They have taught that these are the
    PILLARS upon which the world STANDS and is sutstained. That requires a
    deeper understanding than simply saying that these are wonderful
    things.)

    In the days of creation, the phrase “vayar Elokim ki tov” is repeated
    many times. After each species or group that He created, G-d saw “that
    it was good.” This indicates that everything that was created owes its
    sustained existence to the “good” that is part of its essence.

    G-d’s creations exist in this world for the good that they contain.
    Something that lacks any good cannot have an enduring existence. The
    Torah concludes each step of creation with the words “Vayar Elokim ki
    tov,” and G-d saw that it was good, as well as concluding the entire
    creation “Vayar Elokim et kol asher asah, v’hinei tov meod,” and G-d
    saw all that he made, and it was very good. This is because the good
    contained in every creation was a fundamental element in its creation
    process, and without this essence it has no enduring existence, doomed
    to extinction.

    (The word “tov” which is translated as “good” forces us to confront
    the definition of “good.” What is it? The root of the Hebrew word
    “tov” is tet-bet, which means to prepare something to receive. The
    classic example is “hatavat haneirot,” preparing the wicks of the
    candles/lamps in the Temple to be lit by the Kohen. When G-d saw that
    what He created was prepared and suitable to fullfil the purpose for
    which it was created, He said about it “ki tov,” that it was “good.”
    If something isn’t able to fulfill some purpose of creation, it is
    “rah” whose root word means unstable, with no sense of future and
    continuity. It has no basis for existence, and is doomed to
    extinction.)

    Individual creatures may not fulfill their potential and as
    individuals may be deficient and lack endurance. But every group that
    G-d created was good, in line with G-d’s ultimate purpose of creation,
    and as such every category of creation had endurance. On the other
    hand, when something doesn’t fulfill its intended purpose, it is
    considered “rah,” bad, and that is the source of its deficiency and
    ultimate disappearance.

    G-d created and sustains every element of the world in order for it to
    fulfill its purpose. And that purpose is built on providing an
    environment for MAN to fulfill his purpose. Every creation is
    dependent on man, in whose service it was created. If man doesn’t
    function as intended, the entire creation loses its purpose and
    becomes nullified. We are taught this from the flood, where it is
    written “And G-d said ‘I will eradicate man … from the face of the
    earth, from man to the animals to the crawling creatures to the birds
    of the sky.” (Breishit 6:7) How does the decision to destroy MAN
    entail destroying animals, birds, etc.? This question is answered in
    the Midrash which illustrates the destruction of the animals due to
    man’s failure. A king prepared a lavish wedding and fancy house for
    his son, only to have the son rebel against his father. After the king
    executed his son, he destroyed all that had been prepared for the
    wedding, bemoaning “My son (for whom all of this was made) is gone and
    this should remain?” (Breishit Rabbah 28:6; Sanhedrin 108a) Similarly,
    because of man’s failure, G-d destroyed everything that had been
    created for him. Only when man is good, fulfilling his purpose, does
    he have endurance, which then gives endurance to the entire world that
    was created solely for man and depends upon him.

    It should be noted the Torah does not state explicitly that man’s
    creation was tov. It is only alluded to in the summarizing verse
    “v’hinei tov meod”, where the Midrash teaches us that the letters of
    the word meod, mem, aleph, dalet, rearrange to spell Adam, man.
    Animals and other creations, fulfill their purpose by their very
    existence. Therefore G-d could write about their creation that it was
    “tov.” Man, on the other hand, is created in an incomplete and
    deficient state, as an undisciplined creature. He must WORK at
    perfecting himself, at fulfilling his potential and purpose, until he
    develops to the level of tov.

    In order to attain this tov, fulfilling his purpose and potential, he
    must perfect three different facets of his existence.

    He must fulfill his potential in relation to himself, as a uniquely
    human creation. He must fulfill his potential in relation to his
    Creator, implementing the will of G-d who brought him into existence.
    And he must fulfill his potential in relation to his fellow man,
    fulfilling his responsibilities to the people with whom G-d surrounded
    him.

  3. Maharal
    by Rabbi Shaya Karlinsky
    Chapter 1: Mishna 2: Part 2

    Shimon HaTzadik was of the remnants (last members) of the Great Assembly. He used to say: On three things the world stands. On Torah, on Service of G-d, and on deeds of kindness.

    (We concluded last class with the Maharal teaching us that for man to be the creation that G-d wanted him to be, he must choose to be “good,” fulfilling his potential, in relation to his own unique humanity, in relation to his Creator, and in relation to his fellow man. The multi- dimension of man’s “good” is demonstrated from a famous Gemara in Kiddushin, 40a.)

    “Imru latzadik, ki tov… Say about a righteous man that he has done good, and that he will enjoy the fruits of his good deeds” (Isaiah 3:10). Is there a good righteous man and a righteous man who is NOT good? Rather, the verse is referring to one who is good to G-d and good to his fellow man (tzadik tov). One who is good to G-d but not good to his fellow man is termed a righteous man who is not good (tzadik sh’eino tov).

    This Gemara indicates that for a man to be considered “good” he must be “good” in all areas: In relation to his own self (which is self evident – without that we can’t even begin referring to him as “good;” in relation to G-d; and in relation to his fellow man.

    (Please remember what we wrote in the part three of the Maharal’s introduction about the real meaning of “tzadik,” coming from the word “tzedek,” righteous, in contrast to “chasid,” pious. This will explain what may be bothering some of you: How can a person who is “good” to G-d and not good to his fellow man be termed a “tzadik.” Since he is doing everything demanded of him in his relationship with G- d, he can be termed a “tzadik” in his relationship with G-d. But he is appropriately termed a “tzadik sheino tov” a person who may be fulfilling the letter of the law in some areas, without being considered “tov,” a person who is fulfilling his purpose.)

    “Torah,” divine, spiritual wisdom, is what enables a person to perfect his humanity. It is what makes him a unique creation. Lacking this dimension, he is no more than a sophisticated animal, with a quantitative edge in intelligence (hopefully :-) ). (Is this different than what Darwinian evolution maintains about the human being?) His human wisdom is a function of his material being (neurological brain waves?) and this can’t be the justification for the existence of the entire creation. It is man’s acquisition of Torah which bestows upon him a unique spiritual dimension which justifies his existence and therefore the existence of the entire creation. It is exactly this idea that Chazal are communicating to us in the famous Gemara (Shabbath 88a) that teaches that the entire world was hanging in abeyance until that fateful sixth day of Sivan. The continuity of the six days of creation were conditional on the Jewish people accepting the Torah. Had they not done so, G-d woul d return the world to its pre- creation condition (tohu vavohu).

    If man’s existence in the world is an animalistic existence, even a sophisticated one, this is a denigration of creation. The unique virtue of creation is when man transcends his animal existence, something which is enabled exclusively through the divine, spiritual Torah. It is through this Torah that man elevates himself above the material (chomer), giving him true reality and existence.

    (The word “chomer” which occurs frequently in the Maharal has been translated here as “material.” Because it will come up so often, and it is so fundamental to understanding many of the ideas, I will elaborate a little. “Chomer” can be thought of as raw material, which needs to be fashioned in to some functional object. Doing so requires imposing a certain structure, purpose and direction (what is termed “tzurah”) on this material, something which, conceptually, raw material resists. It would rather remain “undisciplined,” leaving all possibilities open. The animal “chamor” donkey, is most representative of this concept of “chomer,” a point the Maharal finds frequently in Chazal. Another dimension of “chomer” is that it can be viewed as physical “matter,” the substance which composes the entire physical world. As physics has discovered, all matter exists in time and space, and is in a state of constant deterioration. This will have relevance in future Mishnayot.)

    The Torah enables man to transcend his limiting animalistic dimension to become the complete being G-d had intended. Torah, therefore, is one of the foundations upon which the world stands: Man in relation to himself. Without Torah, man could not achieve his potential in relation to himself as a human being, a reflection of the Divine.

    The next pillar, “Avodah,” refers to service of G-d and devotion to Him. This includes sacrifices, prayer, and ultimately all the Mitzvah acts we perform in serving Him. “Service” implies that we do it for the sake of serving, because we have the ability and inherent motivation to do so. This is our perfection in relation to our Creator, and without properly maintaining this relationship, we undermine the essence of our having been created. The second foundation upon which the world stands: Man in relation to his Creator.

    The third pillar is “G’milut Chasadim,” acts of generosity and kindness (that go beyond what is expected, as we have pointed out). When man does for others with no OBLIGATION to do so, and with no expectation of “quid pro quo” this makes man truly “good” in relation to to those with who he shares the world. This connection of man to his fellow man is the final pillar: Man in relation to others.

    With these three pillars — Torah, Avodah, G’milut Chasadim — man becomes complete, enabling to fulfill his the totality of his purpose in this world, giving a stable foundation to the world’s existence. On three the world stands.

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