• Dvar for Bereishit (Genesis 1:1-6:8)

    Parshat Bereishit recounts the creation of the world, including plants, animals, humans and marriage. At first glance, it seems that G-d includes Adam’s marriage to Eve in order to highlight how man contrasts to animals. Apparently contradicting this theme, however, is that the biblical concept of marriage is described as an “acquisition” of a wife (Kedushin 2a), seemingly equating Adam’s control over Eve with his ownership of the animals he named.

    Rabbi David Fohrman addresses this question by comparing the concept of “acquiring” a partner to the idea of acquiring Torah. Rabbi Fohrman explains that acquiring Torah doesn’t involve control or ownership, but rather that it completes us only when we actively treasure, appreciate it and work on it. The same applies to marriage:  Men and women complete each other when they appreciate each other and continually work on their relationship, differentiating us from animals, and establishing a union worth treasuring. By appreciating the Torah, our partners and everything else in life that we have, we differentiate and complete ourselves, a goal worthy of the very first Parsha in the Torah.

  • Dvar for Bereishit (Genesis 1:1-6:8)

    In the beginning, starts the Torah in Bereishit, G-d created the heaven, earth, and everything in between, all by Himself. Then, when it came time to create man, G-d asked his council about it, as it says “Let US make man in our image, after our likeness” (1:26). Just as we see a problem with the idea of G-d needing to confer, Moshe noticed the same problem as he was dictating the Torah from Hashem. The Midrash goes on to explain that G-d insisted on the text, accentuating the importance of conferring with others regarding all major aspects of life (as Jews, a spouse and a personal Rabbi is especially emphasized), and that those who wish to  misunderstand the sentence will do so. Rav Wasserman raises a good question, though: Although the lesson is a good one, is it really worth the risk? Doesn’t the potential for negative (people thinking there are multiple gods) outweigh the potential for positive?

    Rav Wasserman answers that there really isn’t any potential for negative. After all, generation after generation of children and adults have learned this verse and have understood it correctly. The only ones that will err are the ones that want to. Should we be deprived of an important lesson on account of those who want to find a fault? In a way, we just learned two lessons out of one. Not only is it important to listen to the advice of our peers, but it’s equally important to separate ourselves from the advice of those that aren’t our peers. Listening to others is the hardest thing to do, especially when you know you should, or when you know they’re right. It’s our own ego that rejects it, yet we’re the ones that would gain from it. We should take the advice of the Parsha, and rather then just agreeing with its insight, actively start seeking and listening to others’ worthy advice.

  • Dvar for Bereishit (Genesis 1:1-6:8)

    In the beginning, starts the Torah in Bereishit, G-d created the heaven, earth, and everything in between, all by Himself. Then, when it came time to create man, G-d asked his council about it, as it says “Let US make man in our image, after our likeness” (1:26). Just as we see a problem with the idea of G-d needing to confer, Moshe noticed the same problem as he was dictating the Torah from Hashem. The Midrash goes on to explain that G-d insisted on the text, accentuating the importance of conferring with others regarding all major aspects of life (as Jews, a spouse and a personal Rabbi is especially emphasized), and that those who wish to  misunderstand the sentence will do so. Rav Wasserman raises a good question, though: Although the lesson is a good one, is it really worth the risk? Doesn’t the potential for negative (people thinking there are multiple gods) outweigh the potential for positive?

    Rav Wasserman answers that there really isn’t any potential for negative. After all, generation after generation of children and adults have learned this verse and have understood it correctly. The only ones that will err are the ones that want to. Should we be deprived of an important lesson on account of those who want to find a fault? In a way, we just learned two lessons out of one. Not only is it important to listen to the advice of our peers, but it’s equally important to separate ourselves from the advice of those that aren’t our peers. Listening to others is the hardest thing to do, especially when you know you should, or when you know they’re right. It’s our own ego that rejects it, yet we’re the ones that would gain from it. We should take the advice of the Parsha, and rather then just agreeing with its insight, actively start seeking and listening to others’ worthy advice.

  • Daily Aliya for Bereishit, Shvii (7th Aliya)

    Aliya Summary: The next three generations are chronicled in this Aliya — concluding with Noach, the tenth generation from Adam. At this point in time, the wickedness and immorality of the people on earth reached such proportions that G‑d regretted creating man. G‑d gave the world 120 years to clean up their act or be destroyed. Noach, on the other hand, was an exception. He was righteous and found favor in G‑d’s eyes.

    The Midrash Rabah records the following important story/lesson: A gentile asked Rabbi Joshua ben Korchah, “Do you not admit that the Holy One, blessed be He, foresees the future?” Rabbi Joshua replied to him, “Yes.” He retorted, “But it is written: and He became grieved in His heart!” Rabbi Joshua replied, “Was a son ever born to you?” “Yes,” the gentile replied. “And what did you do?” Rabbi Joshua asked. He replied, “I rejoiced and made everyone rejoice.” “But did you not know that he was destined to die?” he asked. The gentile replied, “At the time of joy, joy; at the time of mourning, mourning.” Rabbi Joshua said to him, “So is it with the work of the Holy One, blessed be He; even though it was revealed before Him that they would ultimately sin, and He would destroy them, He did not refrain from creating them, for the sake of the righteous men who were destined to arise from them.”

  • Daily Aliya for Bereishit, Shishi (6th Aliya)

    Aliya Summary: Lemech accidentally killed his great-great-great-great-grandfather Cain in a hunting accident; the blood of Abel was finally avenged. Adam and Eve gave birth to a third son, Shet. This Aliya then chronicles the first seven generations of mankind, from Adam to the righteous Enoch.

    Lemech’s wives knew of the impending flood, and that almost everyone would be killed, and therefore stopped having kids. Lemech complained about them to Adam, and Adam argued that “You perform your commandments, and He will do His”, meaning that we do what we’re supposed to do, and let G-d deal with the consequences. The wives countered that Adam should take his own advice, to which he stood corrected, and proceeded to have Shet, of whom Noach was a descendant, who did survive the flood, and who led the new world!

  • Daily Aliya for Bereishit, Chamishi (5th Aliya)

    Aliya Summary: The sixth generation descendant of Cain was Lemech, who fathered several children — seventh generation descendants of Cain.

    This Aliya contains the story of Lemech, the great-great-great-grandson of Kayin and his accidental killer, Lemech’s two wives Ada and Tzila. The Torah mentions more descendants of Kayin and their roles as the “firsts” in various fields of human activity. This portion also contains Lemech’s lament for having killed Kayin.

  • Daily Aliya for Bereishit, Revii (4th Aliya)

    Aliya Summary: Adam and Eve were then expelled from the idyllic Garden of Eden. Eve gave birth to two sons, Cain and Abel. When Abel’s offering to G‑d was accepted, while Cain’s was rejected, Cain murdered his brother in a jealous rage. G‑d punished Cain, designating him to be a lifelong wanderer, but postponing his ultimate punishment for seven generations.

    It may be no coincidence that as soon as Adam lost his innocence by eating from the Tree of Knowledge, he had children, who are born with that same initial innocence. As children are raised, their parents try to shelter their innocence by protecting them from the harsh realities of life and the world around them. In a way, we all try to get back to the bliss of the Garden. In a world filled with information on demand, we often forget that in reality we should always have a filter in place – not everything is meant for us to see and understand. We must know our place, our role, our limitations.

  • Daily Aliya for Bereishit, Shlishi (3rd Aliya)

    Aliya Summary: G‑d caused Adam to fall into a deep slumber and formed a woman, Eve, from one of his sides. Adam was delighted with his new mate. The serpent, at the time the wisest of all animals, sweet-talked Eve into eating from the fruit of the forbidden Tree of Knowledge. Eve shared the fruit with Adam, and imbued with a new sense of knowledge and awareness, they were ashamed of their nakedness and clothed themselves. The fallout was quick to come: G‑d cursed the serpent, Eve, and Adam too, with various maledictions.

    Why did G-d have to make Adam fall asleep to give him Eve? The Gemara explains that had Adam seen where Eve came from, she would have been repulsive to him. The question is what would have been so repulsive. Is it because he is no longer whole, and requires a partner to be complete? Is it because he understood that the process of courtship would be difficult for some, impossible for others? Was it because the process would create so much heartbreak in the world? All because he wanted an external partner? Interesting points to ponder.

  • Daily Aliya for Bereishit, Sheni (2nd Aliya)

    Aliya Summary: This section discusses the events of the sixth day of creation in greater detail. After Adam was formed from the earth, G‑d placed him in a garden just east of Eden. G‑d permitted Adam to eat from any tree in the garden, with the exception of the Tree of Knowledge. Adam named all the animals and birds, and G‑d decided that Adam needed a mate.

    In the first account of Creation, Man was the final act of Creation, but not so much the purpose and focus of creation. In this second account, Man seems to be the focus of creation. We have to see things both ways. The accounts of Creation are very cryptic. Why have them at all? Perhaps it is to challenge each of us to understand some tiny point in this whole grand portion of the Torah that can make our existence more meaningful.

  • Daily Aliya for Bereishit, Rishon (1st Aliya)

    General Overview: In the Torah’s opening reading, Bereishit, G‑d creates the world in six days and rests on the seventh. Adam and Eve eat from the Tree of Knowledge and are expelled from the Garden of Eden. Cain slays Abel and is punished accordingly. Enumeration of the ten generations between Adam and Noach, the birth of Noach, and the degeneration of mankind.

    Aliya Summary: This Aliya recounts the story of creation in six days. On the first day G‑d made darkness and light. On the second day He formed the heavens, dividing the “upper waters” from the “lower waters.” On the third day He set the boundaries of land and sea and called forth trees and greenery from the earth. On the fourth day He fixed the position of the sun, moon and stars. Fish, birds and reptiles were created on the fifth day; land-animals, and then the human being, Adam, on the sixth. G‑d ceased work on the seventh day, and sanctified it as a day of rest.

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