The Condition of Creation
By Rabbi Pinchas Winston
In the beginning, G-d created the Heaven and the EarthŠ (Bereishis 1:1)
BEREISHIS: In the beginning.
But not really, as Rashi explains, because the correct word for that
interpretation would be 'b'rishonah.' Therefore, elucidates
Rashi: BERESHIS, that is, B-REISHIS, "for the sake of 'Reishis'" - Torah
and the Jewish people, both of which are called 'Reishis' - G-d made Heaven
and the Earth, and EVERYTHING ELSE for that matter.
While we're at it, 'Bereishis' (bais-raish-aleph-shin-yud-tav) can also be
broken into two words, 'bara' (bais-raish-aleph) and 'shees' (shin-yud-tav)
which, in Aramaic (there are a few Aramaic words in the Torah) means, "He
made six." Indeed He did, as the Ramban and other commentators point out,
for at the very first moment of creation, G-d created, in potential, all
that would EVER be necessary for the SIX days of creation, and the SIX
millennia that would follow them.
That is because at that very moment of 'Tikun Olam' - World Rectification -
G-d 'built' the SIX sefiros of Chesed, Gevurah, Tifferes, Netzach, Hod, and
Yesod, the spiritual DNA for our six thousand years of history. That is
the Sod of the very first word of the Torah. If you want to know the other
69 interpretations of this SIX-letter word, look at the beginning of the
There is something equally mysterious that Rashi says on this seemingly
non-mysterious first verse of the Torah:
IN THE BEGINNING: Rebi Yitzchak said: The Torah should have begun with,
"This month shall be for you the first of the months" (Shemos 12:1), which
is the first commandment given to the Jewish people. Why does it begin
with creation? Because of [the posuk], "He declared to His people the
strength of His works, in order that He might give them the heritage of the
nations" (Tehillim 111:6). For, should the peoples of the world say to
Israel, "You are robbers, because you took by force the lands of the seven
nations," Israel can reply to them, "All the earth belongs to The Holy One,
Blessed is He; He created it and He gave it to whom He pleased. When He
wanted to, He gave it to them, and when He wanted to, He gave it to
Maybe the problem today is that Rashi was never translated into Arabic. On
the other hand, Rashi has since been translated into English, French,
Spanish, and even Russian, and they're still yelling at us from all four
corners of the earth, "Stop! Thief!" Maybe we should send a Sefer
Bereishis to all the members of the United Nations, with Rashi. Would it help?
I find it to be a remarkable stroke of Hashgochah Pratis that the key issue
towards the end of history is the basis of the very first Rashi, implied
from the very first posuk about creation. For thousands of years the only
issue was, do the Jewish people have a right to survive at all? However,
though there are still plenty of hard-core anti-Semites still out there who
vote "NO!" (one e-mailed me last week asking for my vote to help him
re-implement the 'Final Solution'), the world at large seems primarily
focused on our right to Eretz Yisroel, if not the whole land, then at least
parts of it.
Perhaps being forced to give back key sections of Eretz Yisroel is a more
'civilized' form of Amalek's Final Solution. After all, everyone knows how
much more vulnerable an already vulnerable Israel will be once the Land is
carved up like a Thanksgiving turkey and served up to the Arab nations
(that's right, Arab nations, because the Palestinian people are just one
thread attached to a sleeve that reaches back to Lebanon, Syria, Jordan,
Iraq, Egypt, etc.).
After all, going back a little more than half a century, we find the
British ignoring the mandate of the League of Nations to implement a Jewish
homeland, and instead handing the land over to the Arabs. Previously, the
land had been barren of any humans, until Jews came and began settlements
at the risk of their lives. Jewish success led to Arab jobs, and an influx
of Arab immigration, but that didn't stop the British from turning back the
clocks and pretending as if the Arabs had always been there. And, when
they left the country, they also left all of their artillery - in the hands
of the Arabs. Meanwhile, Harry S. Truman imposed a boycott on the
floundering Jewish settlement, barring the sale of any weapons to Jews
defending THEIR land. Seems fair, no?
How did we survive? How have we ever survived? Miracles. However, the
screaming and accusations are not letting up; just the contrary, they're
becoming so constant and loud that we are being forced to hand over land
that really belongs to us, just to buy off the rest of the worldŠ as if
that can ever be done.
A lot of good Rebi Yitzchak's commentary is to us!
There is a similar idea in the Talmud that seems to work along the same
lines as Rebi Yitzchak's, and with great success:
The Africans summoned Israel before Alexander of Macedonia, claiming that
the land of Canaan belonged to them, as it is written, "The land of Canaan
according to its borders" (Bamidbar 34:2), and that Canaan was their
ancestor. Gevihah ben Pesisa said to the Chachamim, "Permit me, and I will
enter into judgment with them before Alexander of Macedonia. If they
defeat me, then you can say, 'You merely defeated a simpleton from amongst
us!' If I succeed, then you can say, 'The Torah of Moshe has defeated
you!' " They gave him permission and he went to argue with them.
He asked them, "From where does your evidence come?"
They said, "From your Torah."
He told them, "In defense, I will also bring evidence from the same
source. It says, 'And he said, 'Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants he
shall be to his brothers'. (Bereishis 9:25) Now, to whom does the
property of a slave belong, if not to his master? Not only this, but I
summon you before the king for the many years you have not done any service
King Alexander said to them, "State your argument against him."
They said, "Give us three days," and he granted it to them. ,However, they
could find nothing to reply, so they left their fields which were sown, and
their vineyards which had been planted. That year happened to be a
Sh'mittah year. (Sanhedrin 91a)
If only it was so simple today! However, there is still a question to ask
here on Gevihah ben Pesisa's argument, namely, why did he not use Rebi
Yitzchak's argument instead of the one he himself proposed?
After all, Rebi Yitzchak' argument states that even though Eretz Yisroel
may once have belonged to Canaan and his descendants, it no longer did
since G-d gave it to the Jewish people, His right as Creator of the
world. Gevihah's argument only went so far as to say, "Even if it was your
land, and even STILL is, it is ours by virtue of the fact that you are our
slaves, and the property of slaves belongs to their masters!" - an argument
that today would not wash with the League of Arab Nations.
A second question might be, why did Gevihah offer the Chachamim a back door
out in the event that Alexander didn't accept his argument? That itself
could be taken as an admission of weakness regarding the Jewish people's
right to Eretz Yisroel, or, at least, the futility of trying to convince
gentile leaders of the validity of the Jewish claim to Eretz Yisroel
The answer to these questions is in the first Rashi quoted above, about how
the word 'Bereishis' really means "for the sake of Reishis," which is
Torah. For, the underlying meaning of Rashi's words is that creation was
built upon a condition, that condition being that creation exists for the
sake of Torah. If not, if we don't fulfill our part of the bargain, then
G-d doesn't have to fulfill His, and creation tends to take on a life of
its own, subject, seemingly, only to the laws of nature.
This requires more discussion.
In other words, Rashi is saying, Rebi Yitzchak's words, though always true,
only helps when the Jewish people are fulfilling the mandate of creation,
living by Torah and being the light unto the nations they were redeemed
from Egypt to become. When that is the case, then all the pieces fall into
place - without a single spear being thrown as should have been the case in
Yehoshua's time, or a single shot being fired, as should, ideally, be in
(For all we know, the SIX-Day War represented an aspect of this idea, for
historical reasons we cannot yet appreciate. Perhaps this was why SO few
Jews were SO successful against SO many well-equipped and extremely
determined enemies, in SO short a time - SIX days in all.)
After all, how many Jews in power today would even think of presenting the
Torah as a realistic document to decide the dispute? Why not? Because
they know they would be laughed away from the negotiating
table? Why? Because we would look like the biggest hypocrites of history
if we stood behind a document that our very lives contradictŠ a document
that we ourselves accept as being what it truly is: G-d's opinion about
EVERYTHING for all of history!
Thus, the loss of our Torah idealism has resulted in the loss of the
historical ideal, and everything is forced to follow a pattern that
resembles a G-dless world far more than it does a Torah world. Bad guys
succeed, good guys get battered, and truth just about disappears from the
ideological landscape - just as the Talmud predicted it would over a
thousand years ago! (Sanhedrin 97a)
Now we can appreciate Gevihah's argument and his fail-safe approach to the
Greek times were less than ideal for the Jewish people. True, there were
some great Torah scholars at the time, but there were also large amounts of
Jews who knew little or no Torah at all. True, there were some converts to
the Jewish people, but there were also large amounts of Jews going in the
opposite direction, even pursuing the Greek lifestyle. It was not a good
time for the Jewish people and Torah, and certainly the condition for
making creation was not being fulfilled.
Hence, Gevihah, knowing the reality and state of the Jewish people and the
world at the time, could not count solely on Torah logic and reason to win
his argument. Therefore, he provided the Chachamim with a simple 'out'
from any disaster he might not be able to avoid, or even create.
Nevertheless, he decided to test the waters of Divine
Providence. Therefore, he asked the Africans first, "From where does your
evidence come?" Once he heard their answer, that Torah was the basis of
their argument, then he took it as a Divine sign that, however bad the
situation was, there was still enough of a merit for the Jewish people to
use Torah as the 'document' to maintain a claim to Eretz Yisroel.
Nevertheless, this is why Gevihah did not rely upon Rebi
Yitzchak. (Obviously, he did not see the comments of Rebi Yitzchak or
Rashi, since they came after his time. However, we can assume the idea
itself pre-dated both of them, and was a part of the Midrashic tradition
going back to Moshe Rabbeinu's time, if not earlier.) For, had the Jewish
people been holding on THAT level, then, not only would Gevihah be able to
maintain the right of the Jewish people to Eretz Yisroel, but no one would
even have challenged it in the first place!
Adah gave birth to Yaval" (Bereishis 4:20)
I chose this d'var Torah, not so much because it will really mean that much
to most readers, but because it is a phenomenal example of how something
can seem so insignificant in the world of Pshat, yet so much in the world
of Sod. And that is no small matter, but a fundamental of fundamentals of
Torah and life in this world.
Who was Yaval? He was a descendant of Kayin, about whom we no very little
other than the fact that "he was the first of those who dwell in tents and
breed cattle." Why should the Torah spend much time talking about someone
so seemingly insignificant, a real nobody, apparently, in the annals of
Rabbi Chaim Vital reveals something the Written Torah does not:
The level of Kayin in Zehr Anpin is Kayin himself, the son of Adam
HaRishon. The level of Kayin within the partzuf of Ya'akov is Yaval, the
grandson of Kayin, as it says, "Adah gave birth to Yaval" (Bereishis
4:20). Therefore, Yaval worked with bronze and metal because he came from
the Gevuros of Kayin which come from Imma (Binah), and which is called
"Yovel," the "fiftieth year." Therefore, he was called "Yaval." The level
of this Yaval is hinted to in the posuk, "along a brook (yuval) it spreads
its root" (Yirmiyahu 17:8), because within him are all the roots that are
within the Kayin of Zehr Anpin. This Yaval must be rectified, lest
Moshiach come quickly in our time, and this is the sod of "gifts (yovilo)
to the Awesome One" (Tehillim 76:12). This Yoval will be rectified by
Moshe Rabbeinu in the future, b'sod the ibur that will be in him. For, in
Moshe there are also some sparks from the root of Kayin, even though his
root is from Hevel, and specifically in the last generation close to the
time of Moshiach's arrival, which is called in the name of "Bais Ya'akov;"
that generation is called "Bais Ya'akov." Therefore, this Yoval, which is
in the partzuf of Ya'akov, is being rectified now by Moshe Rabbeinu, as we
have mentioned. This is the sod of, "G-d was angry with me because of you"
(Devarim 3:26), whose head-letters spell "Yoval." (Sha'ar HaGilgulim,
It is talking about the system of the Sefiros, and their subsystems of
Sefiros, which are the spiritual mechanisms that make all of creation
work. And, somehow, a very important part of that system has a part called
'Yaval' (or 'Yoval'), and it possesses spiritual roots of Kayin, which come
from the side of the system based upon a light that constricts the light of
G-d, called 'Gevuros.'
Because of its central role within the overall system, it needs
rectification, a high-powered rectification, one that only Moshe Rabbeinu
himself can carry out, and will carry out when he reincarnates into
Moshiach. Furthermore, though we were unaware of it, this whole
rectification process represents a very central undercurrent of history,
effecting creation to this very day, perhaps a major reason for all that is
going on around us, especially the Gevuros part.
Isn't Torah deep?
This is important to know, especially as we head into the month of
Cheshvan, G-d willing, the month in which the world was flooded in Noach's
time. According to tradition, the rain fell from Heaven for 40 days and
nights to symbolize the Written Torah, which was given to Moshe Rabbeinu on
Mt. Sinai over 40 days and nights.
The waters surged from below the earth's surface for 150 days symbolizing
the Oral Law, the part of Torah that comes from G-d but spoken by Torah
scholars who apply the law in every new situation and who reveal aspects of
Torah previously known and unknown. This requires the level of the 'Fifty
Gates of Understanding' on the levels of soul, Nefesh, Ruach, and
Neshamah. Fifty times three is 150, and together they made a VERY deep Flood.
If only they had come to learn Torah from Noach instead of mocking him, as
he followed the command of G-d and continued to build the Ark, up in the
mountains where floods never occurred. However, it is bizarreness that
makes direct Divine Providence stand out so much, so that we can notice and
change for the better.
That was one of the redeeming qualities of Noach, and will be one of the
redeeming qualities of those who survive the War of Gog and Magog, if one
becomes necessary. For, it is through learning and understanding the
depths of the water of Torah that we can hear G-d's message, and respond
Have a great Shabbos, and a great month of Cheshvan,
Copyright © 2002 by Rabbi Pinchas Winston and Project Genesis, Inc.