Points to Ponder

Berashis 5777

Hashem saw the light that it was good (1:4)  - Rashi explains that this light was put away and is called the Or HaGanuz. Rav Schachter Shlita explained that like humans have clothing, a body and a soul, the Torah too has three layers. Tanach is the outer layer, the Gufei Torah add an additional level of interpretation and the soul of the Torah are those moments and bolts of inspiration that affect us from time to time and give us a taste of that Olam Haba. Only one who learns Torah Lishma gets a Zechus to experience that Nishmas HaTorah.

Hashem planted a Garden in Eden (2:8) – There is no trup mark  over the word Gan. Rav Nebenzahl Shlita explains why. He notes that Gan Eden was not any old Garden that happened to be in Eden. Rather, the secret to the Gan was that it was B’Eden near Hashem.

You will not die (3:4 ) – How did it happen that Chava was willing to listen to the Nachash more than to Hashem who said that if you eat from the tree you WILL die (or so she assumed)? The Alter of Novorhodok ztl. explained that evil and the desire to do it, do not always go hand in hand. Sometimes something is not good for us and the knowledge that it is not good for us makes us want to do it while at other times knowing something is bad for us does not make us want to do it. (inhaling drugs versus drinking hot tar). Prior to the Sin, Adam did not have to contend with desire, even when knowing things were bad for him. After the sin however, he was newly challenged with the challenges of desire for things that were not good for him and that he was not going to be able to overcome all things bad for him. This was part of the enticement of the Nachash who told Chava that she needed to give herself more credit and would always overcome her desire. Alas as we know too well, that does not always work.

Adam called the Woman Chava (3:20) – Immediately after this, the Torah tells us that the Malachim were worried that Adam could be like them and know both good and bad. What was their worry? And what is the connection to naming Chava? Rav Dr. Nachum Rabinovitz Shlita explains that after receiving his punishment, Adam dos not seek to lay blame. Rather he accepts responsibility and even goes out of his way to see good in and encourage Chava by naming her. Ergo, the episode show Adam not only how to know Ra but also Tov. The Tov is the positive value of Gemillus Chessed that becomes the Derech Eitz HaChaim that needs to be preserved.

Hashem listened to Hevel and accepted his Korban but he did not to Kayin and to his Korban (4:4-5) – Why the double language here? Sforno explains that Hevel offered a Korban that was acceptable as he was accepted. Kayin was not accepted and neither was his korban. Rav Wolbe ztl. adds that getting close to Hashem is not a ceremonial thing. One needs to understand that he is bringing a piece of himself when he brings a korban to Hashem. Thus, if the korban is not offered appropriately it is a revelation that the person himself is also not appropriately prepared.

Kayin had a child named Chanoch and he built a city which he called Chanoch like his child (4:17) – Rav Bernard Weinberger Shlita explains that Kayin didn’t need to build the city – usually that is done when someone does not have children (See Rashi to end of Parshas Matos  “Chavos Yair”) so he names a city in order not to be forgotten. Why would Kayin name a city after his SON? Rav Weinberger explains that Kayin gave up hope about his own future as a result of his sin. Therefore he sunk all of his Kochos into his son. The Torah is showing us that he was wrong – one must never give up hope on himself and should have started anew with himself as he did with Chanoch.

 Haftorah: To open blind eyes to remove a prisoner from confinement (Yeshaya 42:7) – Rav Shraga Feivel Mendelowitz ztl. once noted that the job of a Mechanech is to remove the stone from the hearts of the Jewish children covered by the spiritual darkness that blankets this land. Exposing our fellow Jews to the beauty of Torah learning, the Joy of Shabbos and Yom Tov and the study of the enlightening Torah, totally creates new vistas for people who did not see the light until then.