October 18, 2019 ~ Sh Hol Hamoed SUKKOT. M: BAYAT.

Shabbat Bereshit - שבת בראשית

Maqam RAST: Mandate Melodies

יום יום תמיד לך אתפלל נשמת
חסדך קדם על כל אדם נקדישך
מימים ימימה פזמון ספר תורה


ויאמר אלהים יהי אור ויהי אור - Light- In a world whose default state is confusion, darkness, and entropy, God's first action in Genesis 1:3 is to establish order by creating "light;" differentiating it from the existing "darkness." In Isaiah 42:6, the corresponding Haftara portion of Bereshit, this same word is used to describe Israel's mission; acting as a "light unto nations" (אור לגוים). There, we read that it is Israel's role to imitate God by "opening the eyes of the blind," (לפתח עינים עורות) and by "freeing those who dwell in darkness" (להוציא ממסגר אסיר מבית כלא ישבי חשך). How can Israel accomplish this? The vehicle to provide a source of illumination to others, as per Proverbs 6:23, is the Torah and the Misvot (כי נר מצוה ותורה אור). It is only through the internalization of the values of the Torah, the ultimate source of spiritual light, that one may serve as a source of hope, inspiration, and light onto those who dwell in the dark. Beth Torah Bulletin, October 14, 2017.

In God's Image

בצלם אלהים ברא אותו - After the creation of many different animals mentioned in Genesis 1, God singles out the human and declares that this species represents the "image of God." By doing so, God provides a template to how we should interact with one another. The late Rabbi Dr Ezra Labaton of Congregation Magen David of West Deal has been instrumental in constantly repeating that every person is created in God's image and is therefore entitled to be treated with a high level of dignity and respect. The implications of this should resonate and be applied to all of our interactions with any other person irrespective of race, ethnicity, or gender. This foundational concept of the Torah should also provide us with the moral incentive to help different groups of people around the world during their times of need and to fight injustices taking place whenever reasonably possible (Beth Torah, 10/29/16).  

Large ב and Small ה

בראשית / בהבראם - Throughout Tanakh, certain letters are written large while others are written small. In Perashat Bereshit, the 'Bet' in 'Bereshit' (Genesis 1:1) is large, and the 'Heh' in 'BeHibare’am' (Genesis 2:4) is small. Although there are no definite explanations for any large or small letter, R Jacob ben Asher (1269-1343), also known as the Ba’al HaTurim, teaches that the Bet of 'Bereshit' is written large, because the Torah wanted to start on a pleasant note with the letter ‘Bet’ hinting to ‘berakha’ (blessing) as opposed to the letter ‘Aleph’ hinting to ‘arur’ (curse). Regarding the small 'Heh' in 'BeHibare’am,' a Midrashic interpretation is that 'Heh' stands for 'Hashem' (God). Therefore, instead of opening this Creation story with the vague “when they were created,” one should translate it as “when God created them.” This brings God directly back into the Creation story of Genesis 1:1 when God began to create the world. Tiqqun Highlights, Beth Torah, 10/6/18.