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Shabbat Parashat Bereishit 5780

Parashat Hashavua: For the Purpose of Reishit

Harav Yosef Carmel

“In the beginning, Hashem created the heavens and the earth” (Bereishit 1:1). It is with these words that the Torah of Israel begins, and it ends with “before the eyes of all of Israel” (Devarim 34:12). The Torah, famously (see first Rashi of the Torah), did not begin with “This month is for you the head of the months” (Shemot 12:2). It also did not begin with the first stories of the patriarchs of the nation, Avraham, Yitzchak, and Yaakov. It begins with the beginning of beginnings – with the primordial void and with the “spirit of Hashem was hovering over the water” (Bereishit 1:2).

Hashem, whose spirit was over everything in the universe, will be described later as the G-d of Israel, in addition to the G-d of the entire universe. He is the same G-d before the world was created and after the world was created. Everything was created by His decree in a manner described as “indeed good,” through His good will and desire to bring good to His creations.

Within all of this, the crowning glory of the creation, man, was created “by the hands of Hashem.” This creation has a resemblance of sorts with his Creator, as the pasuk says: “In the form of G-d He created him” (Bereishit 1:27). As part of the initial creation, Adam was created, without any other titles – he was not a kohen, levi, or Yisrael. Just a simple Adam, and, as such, he acquired his status, his place in the Garden of Eden, and the merit of speaking with Hashem and being guided by Him.

Why was Adam created alone in his species? Chazal say that it is so that different families should not argue whose family was created first. There is equality within mankind – we all come from Adam, who was formed by “Hashem’s hand” in the form of G-d, which makes us all beloved (see Avot 3:14).

If we are to end up with an approach of “You chose us from among all the nations,” why does the story start with equality? The Torah wanted the approaches of equality and chosenness to interplay and complete each other. “In the beginning” and “before the eyes of all of Israel” do not contradict each other. “All humans are beloved” does not contradict “Israel are beloved, and are called sons of G-d.” After all, Chazal tell us that Bereishit means on behalf of reishit, which, in turn, is a reference to Torah and Israel, which are each called reishit in different places in Tanach. We are supposed to demonstrate what in the creation was supposed to make mankind worthwhile of all of that attention and show through which rules Hashem leads the world. While man, in general, can be described as being created in the “image of Hashem,” some are fit to be called “sons of Hashem.”

The expectation with which Israel was created was to give Adam his full significance and return nature to its fixed form, returning us to the lost paradise and thereby justifying creation. Bereshit, for the Torah, which was called reishit, and for Israel, which was called reishit. 

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