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Parshas Bereishis - Finding New Inspiration in the Old     28 Tishrei 5781

10/16/2020 12:03:36 PM


Sponsored by Joel and Marlene Gerendash in memory of Marlene’s father, Yehoshua ben Binyamin A”H, on his Yahrzeit, 29 Tishrei.

Starting a new project is often wrought with anxiety, but at the same time it is also filled with a sense of excitement. Beginning something fresh does not require much motivation because the project itself is the motivating factor. In contrast, some motivation is required and necessary when it comes to revisiting a project that was previously tackled. This week, as I sat down to type out a message, I faced a double challenge. In general, after a break from the routine of writing messages for a few weeks,  it takes more effort to get back into it. Second, starting sefer Bereishis, going back to the beginning AGAIN, or as they say, “here we go again”, can be  challenging. A good motivational push often comes from positive feedback or flattery. The cliche “imitation is the highest form of flattery” is a truism. A few years ago a reader of my weekly message died and instructed her family to have me to conduct her funeral, despite never having met or spoken to her. That gave me inspiration to continue writing. Then it happened again only a few days ago…..

This week I received an email from a woman in Riverdale, NY. Here is what she wrote. “Rabbi Bogopulsky, allow me to introduce myself.  My name is ………… and this Shabbos is my son's Bar Mitzvah.  In preparing for his speech on Shabbos, I was looking for a way to connect the aspect of this Shabbos as Shabbos Bereishis as a transition from the Yomim Tovim to the rest of the year, and the Yom Hashishi reference to the 6th day of Sivan.  I was struggling, until I happened across your shul's website and found your dvar torah and your analysis to sports- regular season and post season.  It was so perfect because my son is super into sports and it brought the speech together.  I wanted to thank you! and let you know he plans to use this analogy in his speech (with a thank you and reference to you of course.)” This is all it took for me to be motivated and think of something unique that will touch someone or help them relate in some way. 

I started to think, asking myself, “What is the connection between the High Holiday season to Bereishis? Why does Bereishis come right after the Yom Tov season?” Earlier in the week my father-in-law discussed the very first Rashi of the parsha/Torah and asked a seemingly remarkable simple question. The first Rash states: ”It was not necessary to begin the Torah [whose main object is to teach commandments, mitzvos, with this verse]  but rather from ‘This month shall be unto you the beginning of the months’ (Shmos 12:2), since this is the first Mitzva that the Jewish people were commanded to do. And what is the reason that it begins with Bereishis? Because of the power of His works, He declared to His people in giving them the heritage of the nations. For if the nations of the world should say to Israel: “You are robbers because you have seized by force the lands of the seven nations of Canaan, Israel would say to them, ‘The entire world belongs to the Holy One, Blessed Be He. He created it and gave it to whomever was right in His eyes. Of His own will He gave it to them and out of His own will He took it from them and gave it to us.” 

Throughout the last two thousand years the world has declared the land of Israel is not ours. Country after country has occupied and dominated the land of Israel. Most noted, in today’s day and age,  the world delegitimizes Israel’s right to exist;  they would love to kick us out. Our adversaries consistently challenge our rights to the land ,even when we claim this Rashi to them! They are not upholding the mandate of the Torah, so what good is Rashi’s explanation in contrast to the Mitzvah of Kiddush HaChodesh?

The answer may be as simple as the message we, the Jewish People remember within our DNA - that the world was created by Hashem. This serves as a powerful reminder to  remind us, reinforcing all that we declared less than a month ago on Rosh Hashana: that Hashem created the world. It is due to the strength of Hashem’s actions and creations that He reiterated to Am Yisrael. Hashem needed to inform us how the Holy land became our inheritance and our place of dwelling. It is through this very statement, -God declaring that the land is His - that He commands the Jewish people with Mitzvos Teluyos BaAretz, Mitzvos that are dependent upon being in the land. This short story in the beginning of Bereishis is the precursor to the Jews being commanded and fulfilling the Mitzvos in the land of Israel.

 Rashi in Devarim 11:18 on the word"ושמתם את דברי אלא""Therefore, you shall place these My words in your heart”. Even after we have been exiled, we distinguish ourselves by observing the commandments: put on Tefillin, prepare Mezuzos so that they be not new to you when you return. “These words” are the words from the beginning of Bereishis; they come after the entire season full of Mitzvos.  As we now head into the long winter season, we are reminded that God created the world, described in detail so that His children do not forget to maintain and sustain the efforts of the past month.

We began the year declaring Hashem’s kingdom, once again returning to the historical period when it all began. The new year is not just the process of starting over again from the past year, it is the renewal, the beginning of something brand new. Creation was not a one-time occurrence; it happens on a daily basis. This is the nuance that should lead to our excitement and motivation of beginning afresh, not replaying last year once again, but of genuinely understanding the message of genuine renewal, refreshed and motivated to greeting our new year with deeper commitment and gratitude to Hashem for all the gifts and responsibilities He has given us.

Tue, October 19 2021 13 Cheshvan 5782