פ’ בראשית תשע”ט
Volume 26, Issue 1
INSIGHTS from the SEDRA
Insights from the Sedra is a project of the Scholar’s Kollel of Great Neck. It aims to provide several questions and answers about the Sedra, culled from various commentaries, including the following: Baal Haturim, Darash Moshe, Vedebarta Bam by Rabbi Moshe Bogomilsky, Torah Treasures by Dov Furer, Wellsprings of Torah by Alexander Friedman, and Kol Dodi by Rabbi Dovid Feinstein, Great Torah Lights by Rabbi Yitzchak Meir Goodman, Something To Say by Dov Wasserman, The Vilna Gaon, and Growth Through Torah by Zelig Pliskin.
“Let us make man.” (1:26)
Rashi and other commentators ask the famous question: Why is this statement written in the plural? After all, G-d alone created man, without any assistance.
The Sfas Emes offers the following insights: Each individual is a partner in his own “creation.” Hashem creates each person with a wealth of potential –physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual – waiting to be developed. Like a blossom whose petals unfold slowly beneath a warm sun, every person can achieve true majesty if he reaches high and nurtures that which is within his abilities. G-d says to each person, נעשה” – Let us work together. I have created you. Now do your job; make yourself into the very best person you can be.” (Something to Say)
ויברך אלקים את יום השביעי ויקדש אתו כי בו שבת מכל מלאכתו אשר ברא אלקים לעשות
“G-d blessed the seventh day and sanctified it because on it He abstained from all His work which G-d created to make…” (2:3)
The observance of the Sabbath it itself an acknowledgement of G-d, an homage paid to the Creator of all. Indeed, he who rests on the Sabbath because the work of Creation was finished on this day acknowledges that the world had a beginning, and to recognize this beginning is to proclaim belief in G-d, its Creator. However, he who ignores the Sabbath falls prey to doubts of G-d’s eternity; he loses his faith in the existence of the Creator of the world. Thus, it is just this “stoppage of work” which gives the Sabbath all its meaning. On the seventh day G-d raised up the creation of the world from the constraints of material forces to the manifestation of Divine freedom which finds expression in “rest.” Rashi asks “What was the world still lacking?” The answer is “rest” – the Sabbath came and brought with it rest. Then the work of creation was completed. So the Torah records that G-d completed His work on the seventh day and not on the sixth. (Kol HaTorah)
לא טוב היות האדם לבדו אעשה לו עזר כנגדו
“It is not good that man be alone; I will make him a helper against him…” (2:18)
What does the verse mean when it states a “helper against him?” The verse in Mishlei (21:2) states כל דרך איש אשר ישר בעיניו – Every person thinks that the path he chooses is correct. How does he know if he is on the right path or not? Eizer k’negdo. If a person is on the right path, his wife should help him (eizer) along that path. If he is on the wrong path, his wife needs to oppose him (k’negdo) and tell him that he is on the wrong path. Why specifically is this one of the roles of a wife? A wife is the only one whom a man might listen to. She loves him like herself, yet she can be objective enough to see all his faults. (Netziv)
“In the midst of the garden…” (3:3)
Onkelos translates “at the center” and Rashi also finds it necessary to stress “at the center” (rather than within). Why? A doctor once asked the Chafetz Chaim, Rabbi Yisrael Meir HaKohen, what merits doctors might have to be worthy of life in the World to Come. He answered by referring to this verse: “Our Sages stress that the Tree of Life was situated at the center of the garden. This was probably because the central point is equally accessible from all sides, so we do not think there is just one path to arrive at the Tree of Life. It can be reached from all sides, that is, each individual, whether he is a Torah-scholar, scientist, or artisan, is capable of reaching it. ‘In all your ways, acknowledge Him and He will direct your path’ (Mishlei 3:6). And the Talmud (Ta’anit 21b) tells us of the merits of the doctor, Abba, which earned him a life in the World to Come.” For the same reason, the ohel moed, the tent of meeting, wherein the Torah was contained, was situated at the center of the camp of the Israelites in the desert. Likewise, the bimah is the central point of each synagogue. (Chafetz Chaim)
ונח מצא חן בעיני ה’
“And Noach found favor in the eyes of G-d.” (6:8)
There is a natural tendency to try to find favor in the eyes of other people. The need for approval from others is a very strong drive. For some people it is their main motivation in all that they do. In the positive sense it will motivate people to accomplish for the good. But the negative aspect of seeking approval is that it can cause you to do things that are improper if you want to find favor in the eyes of evildoers.
How is it possible to prevent the need for approval to cause you to transgress? The answer is: focus on gaining the Almighty’s approval. This is what Noach did. He lived in a generation of evildoers. If he wanted the approval of his friends and neighbors, he would have needed to compromise his ideals. But his focus was on finding favor in the eyes of the Almighty. Before doing anything, instead of asking yourself, “What will the neighbors think?” ask yourself, “What will the Almighty think?” (Growth through Torah)
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