Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Parsha - Bereishit

I'm going to try and put up a d'var Torah each week (bit bli neder). Mainly they will be taken from things I wrote many years ago when I was in Edinurgh.
Here is the beginning of the first one:

(click here to download the pdf file)

(Blogger keeps cutting the end of this d'var Torah off, so this is only the first few paragraphs. Click on the link to see the whole thing. Does anyone have any suggestions as to how to post a long blog here, or why it isn't working?)


“By ten Divine utterances was the world created. But what does the Torah mean to tell us by this? Could not the world have been created by one single utterance? It teaches us that G-d will exact severe punishment from the wicked who destroy a world which was created by ten Divine utterances, and that He will richly reward the righteous who preserve this world which was created by ten Divine utterances.” (Ethics of the Fathers 5; 1). The S’fas Emes explains that with each utterance of creation G-d created more laws of nature, and thus made it more difficult to perceive Him directly within the creation. Had the world been created with only one utterance, G-d’s Presence would be directly perceived, which would leave no opportunity for free choice, and hence no reason for reward for the righteous or punishment for the wicked. This is why the Hebrew word for world, olam, is related to the word for hidden, he’elem. The creation of the world was an act of G-d hiding Himself, and each further act of creation made G-d less revealed in the world.

At the end of our Torah portion there is a list of the ten generations from Adam to Noach. Anyone studying the portion would usually skim read this part, as it is repetitive, and doesn’t contain anything interesting except construct a timeline of Jewish history. There is a similar section at the end of next week’s portion, Noach, which again simply lists the generations from Noach to Avraham. It seems that even the Mishna considers these sections unimportant parts of the Torah, as it states, “From Adam to Noach there were ten generations, to show the extent of G-d’s patience...” (Avot 5; 2).

... Continued on the pdf file - click on the link.

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