“The Best of Parashat HaShavuah” Articles taken from list subscriptions on the internet, edited, reformatted and printed for members of Kibbutz Sde Eliyahu




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בס"ד

B PARASHAT HASHAVUA B

PARASHA : Bereshit

Date :24 Tishrei 5765, 9/10/2004

“The Best of Parashat HaShavuah” Articles taken from list subscriptions on the internet, edited, reformatted and printed for members of Kibbutz Sde Eliyahu (Editor: Arieh Yarden)

Dedicated to the loving memory of Avi Mori

Moshe Reuven ben Yaakov z”l

Please respect the Holiness of these pages

These pages are also sent out weekly via the internet in MS Word format. Anyone interested in receiving them, please feel feee to contact me at the following email address: yarden@seliyahu.org.il - Arieh.

HhHhHhHhHhHhHhHhHhHhH

1 - SHABBAT B’SHABBATO (Tzomet)

Extract from SHABBAT-B'SHABBATO, published by the Zomet Institute of Alon Shevut, Israel

STARTING POINT: "That It Is Good" Two Times

by Rabbi Amnon Bazak

In the first part of the description of the creation of the world (Bereishit 1:3-10), five key elements of the foundation of the world are encountered - day, night, heaven, earth, and the seas. The key phrase in this section is "He called..." - repeated for each of these basic elements. "And G-d called the light day and He called the dark night... And G-d called the firmament heaven... And G-d called the dry land earth, and He called the gathered waters the seas." In fact, these elements existed before the process began, but they were intermingled with each other. The process of creating them was basically an act of separation. "And G-d separated between the light and the dark... And He separated between the water under the firmament and the water over the firmament." The earth and the sea were created in a similar way: "Let the water under the heaven be gathered into one place, so that the dry land will be seen."

As opposed to this, in the next section (1:11-31), the phrase "He called..." no longer appears, and the focus changes to creation of objects to fill the basic elements that came into existence in the first part of creation. The five main elements continued to serve as a basis for the rest of creation. On the fourth day, "Let there be lights in the heaven in order to separate between day and night... There were lights in the heaven, providing light on the earth." On the fifth day, "Let the water bring forth living creatures, and let birds fly over the earth, before the firmament of the heaven... And G-d blessed them, saying, be fruitful and multiply, and fill the water in the seas, and let the birds multiply on the earth." And on the sixth day, "Let the earth give forth every species of living creature: animals, crawling creatures, and animals of the earth, every species separately." In the end, the role of man is defined as being linked to the five basic elements: "Let us make a man in our image, and let him rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the heavens, the animals and all the earth, and everything that crawls on the earth."

What is remarkable about this change in focus is that it occurs in the middle of the third day. There are two separate acts of creation on this day (the phrase "G-d said" appears twice). The first one refers to giving names to the earth and the heaven, and it is part of the activity of the first two days of creation, while the second one, "let the earth give forth grass," is related more to the actions of the last three days. Why did this change in focus take place in the middle of the third day?

Evidently the third day is indeed an expression of the "borderline" between the first and last days of creation. The fact that the transformation between the two approaches takes place on a single day in two parts - giving the earth its name and commanding the grass to grow from the earth - emphasizes that neither part of creation can stand on its own. The basic elements can be created but they have no meaning if they do not have a practical application. The land is "earth" only if it is a basis for the growing of fruit trees, the sea and the heaven have meaning only if they serve as the sites for sun and moon, as well as for the birds and the animals. This is evidently also the meaning of the double appearance of the phrase "it was good" on the third day - the combination of basic creation and practical use of the results for the appropriate goal is the ultimate objective of creation.

POINT OF VIEW: A Festival of Kabbalah

by Rabbi Yisrael Rozen

"One should not teach... the acts of creation to two people, or the heavenly combinations to an individual" [Mishna Chagiga 2:1]. "The secrets of the Torah - such as the heavenly combinations and the Book of Creation, or the actions of creation" [Rashi, Chagiga 13a]. "The acts of creation - Rabeinu Tam explained, This refers to the holy name of forty-two letters, which can be derived from the first and second verses of Bereishit" [Tosafot, Chagiga 11b]. "Why was the letter beit chosen from all the other letters to begin the creation, with the word Bereishit? This is because G-d said: I will create two worlds, this world and the world to come. I will create heaven and earth - two corridors." [Otiyot D'Rabbi Akiva].

For Modest People Only

The last Midrash quoted above emphasizes the duality built into our world. The acts of creation are characterized by a combination, introduced by the letter "beit". Another element that can be added to this duality is the two aspects of the Torah: overt and hidden, related to earth and heaven. The goal of the noble people of mankind has always been to "reach the heavens," and ever since the Torah was given the great sages of Yisrael have been involved with understanding its deepest secrets, while they attempted to solve the mysteries of the hidden places, studying "the acts of creation, as individuals." Even now that the restrictions on studying the secrets of Torah have been relaxed by the ARI and his disciples, believing as they did that "the time has come," a strong limit remains: "This is to be revealed only to the modest ones."

The meaning of "Tzanua," modest, is double: (1) privately, not in public; and (2) the "secrets" are to be taught only to those who truly fear G-d, those who have modest traits and who avoid all effects of pride. Such matters of mysticism and secrets cannot be linked in any way to those whose very essence is a lack of modesty. So much the more so in the case of actions which contradict the basic concept of modesty.

The Fashion of Mysticism

On Rosh Hashanah we were visited by a Hollywood personality, who treated us to an unconventional Kabbalistic show: the first international conference in Israel on the subject of Kabbalah, accompanied by 3000 participants from abroad. The one good point that might be noted is that the dust settled quickly, and the Kabbalistic tornado has left no trace. This was probably because of how the guest made sure to keep her distance from the cameras.

I am not sure exactly who are the Jews that led this campaign, specifically who was responsible for the lavish production. According to reports, the Jewish head of "The Kabbalah Center" was not present, although his spirit could undoubtedly be felt. I do not know the man or his approach, but as one who is familiar with the world of Chassidic and general Jewish thought, I remain very skeptical about the authenticity of the phenomenon in general and this specific event in particular.

There can be no doubt that the spreading phenomenon of mysticism in the western world is remarkable. In looking at the greatly increased interest in such effects as holism, spiritual energies, meditation, scientology, eastern philosophies, voodoo ceremonies, and many other similar approaches, one may well wonder if these are "good for mankind" or not. This goes beyond the questions of "truth or falsehood," or whether some of these are simple idol worship. Do people with a mystical approach or those who read coffee or tea leaves help the world more than the more rational approaches? Are we to expect a slogan in the future, "Make Kabbalah and not war"? Perhaps the opposite is to be expected. Is there a possibility of beheadings or illicit sexual acts that will be performed as a result of mystic devotion?

My gut feeling is that indeed mysticism is to be preferred over a purely rational approach. Meditation is preferable to dangerous logical ideologies. However, we must be wary of exaggerated permissiveness which can sometimes be confused with mysticism. In the past we have seen more than one movement of false messianism which led to licentiousness and destruction of the values of family life. Could it be that our famous Hollywood personality is an example of yet another such link? Might the same be said for the group of young women who waited for hours to catch a glimpse of her lofty presence?

Extroverted and Publicized Internalism

The fashion that disturbs me has brought about an incursion of "Kabbalah" in the open public. The concepts of the world of Jewish mysticism have become matters for laughter, fun, mirth, and insincere declarations, and the innermost world has become the ultimate example of externalism. I do not know what is taught in the fashionable courses on Kabbalah (especially to women - this is worth checking out!). But I cannot rid myself of the conviction that they cheapen the very fabric of true mysticism in order to make it palatable to those who thirst for some sort of knowledge, while the true knowledge of the secrets of the Torah remain far removed from their experience and from their ways of life.

Our sages wrote long ago that anybody who has not filled his entire being with the whole Talmud and the relevant halachic decisions should not come near this subject, and should not dare to sample the "internal" secrets of the Torah. In addition, there is a covenant with Yisrael that the mystic parts of the Torah are a secret between the Almighty and Yisrael alone (see Bamidbar Rabba 20), and they are not to be shared with foreign matrons from Rome. The only things that can be found in a "Kabbalah Center for the Masses" are "shells", perhaps the worst and most corrupt examples of all.

Kabbalah Based on Riches

The ultimate proof of the fraud involved in this phenomenon is the amount of money involved. It is true that the parables of mysticism are filled with sparkling castles and precious jewels and stones that adorn the dwelling place of the Almighty. But in this case, we have grandiose Kabbalah palaces in Los Angeles and London, tickets for entrance that cost $1,000 each, the glitter and glow of famous stars, projects involving the expense of public relations experts and experienced producers. All of this shows as nothing else that it is no more than a bluff, a passing trend that will soon disappear. The "outside ones" (the forces of Satan and evil) have shown time and again that Kabbalah that is outside of the established traditions is nothing more than external and false.

SERMON OF THE WEEK: Both Together and Each One Separately

by Mrs. Shlomit Rozen, Senior Lecturer in Midreshet Emunah

"And G-d said, it is not good for man to be alone" [Bereishit 2:18]. Is it really so bad that a man is alone? We have seen many people who have done great and worthy accomplishments in spite of - or perhaps because of - the fact that they were "alone." What is meant by, "it is not good"? As is well known, within the context of the Torah the phrase "it is not good" implies that something was not created in a complete and perfect way. We will try to understand the meaning of this verse.

In his essay "The Jewish Woman" Rabbi Shimshon Rafael Hirsh explains that "if the goal of mankind would have been left in the hands of individuals it would have been impossible to achieve. The goals to be fulfilled by man in the world are too numerous for any single individual. What is needed is that two creatures share the load and complement each other. 'I will make him a helper to be with him' [Bereishit 2:18]. A man cannot take the place of a woman, and a woman cannot replace a man... They help each other and complement each other." Completeness is achieved when the two are attached to each other. The same idea is seen in the commentary of the Sforno: "The ultimate good that exists in the image of G-d will not be achieved if a man is himself directly involved in obtaining all the needs of his life... 'a helper to be with him' - she must be equal to him in form and image."

In her summary of commentaries, Nehama Leibowitz quotes the Maharal: "The good that is achieved by the combination of a man and a woman, which is able to cancel what is 'not good' if a man is alone, is not an absolute good in itself but rather depends on choosing good." That is, man must expend an effort so that good for mankind and the whole world will be accomplished.

On the other hand, in his commentary on Pirkei Avot the Maharal explains that "from the point of view of the world it would be best if man had been created alone, for an individual man is an entire world, and this is not true for the other creatures... From the point of view of the world, a single individual would have been sufficient, and a second entity was not needed." The same idea was written by Rabbi Nachman of Bretzlev: "Every single person is something new in the world, and it is best that he becomes complete based on his own unique traits."

These two seemingly contradictory approaches can be reconciled by noting that with respect to serving G-d every individual is an entire world, as is noted by Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Kook in Orot Hakodesh. "Every person must realize that he has been called upon to serve G-d according to his own unique feeling, corresponding to the root of his soul." Our sages tell us that the reason the Ten Commandments were given in the singular is so that every person will feel that there is nobody else in the world except for him. He must study and observe all the commands of the Torah. (See Sifri

TEACH THE YOUNGSTERS: One Hundred Years of Mizrahi Education

by the Department of Education, World Mizrahi

This year the educational institutions of religious Zionism mark one hundred years of activity, which includes fifty years of the national religious educational system. The development of this broad and varied system brought about a great revolution in Eretz Yisrael and in the State of Israel, and its effect has been felt in all walks of life in the country.

It is very significant that the Mizrahi movement, which began its activities in the field of education, had decided to return this year to the topic of education through the Education Department, which has renewed its activities in Israel and in the world, providing a unified address for educational problems and for strengthening religious schools in general. The world center of Mizrahi has added an educational section to its website, where the Israeli and worldwide activities will be described. In honor of this change, the name and byline of this regular column has been changed, to take into account the renewed activity of the world center of Mizrahi in this field.

Many events are being planned within the framework of 100 years of religious education. This includes seminars, weekend gatherings, local conventions, an essay competition on the subject of 100 years of religious education, publication of a special bulletin, publication of a memorial book, stronger contacts with educational institutions abroad by sending them background information about the history of religious education, and publication of special study books on the subject of "Continuing with Faith" - about Torah, the nation, and the state - to be used in enrichment studies in schools abroad.

(Note: the seminar that was originally scheduled for 26/10/2004 has been postponed to the fifth of Kislev, 18/11/2004.)

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