Join our weekly Peninim on the Torah list!

Category

Back to Home -> Bereishis ->


ויבא קין מפרי האדמה מנחה לד' והבל הביא גם הוא מבכורות צאנו ומחלביהן

Kayin brought an offering to Hashem of the fruit of the ground… and as for Hevel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and from their choicest. (4:3,4)

Kayin brought his offering, followed by Hevel’s offering. Hashem turned (listened/accepted) to Hevel’s offering, but did not respond to Kayin’s offering. On the surface, the disparity between Kayin and Hevel’s offering was quality. Hevel offered his finest, choicest, while Kayin brought what he did not want for himself. The inferior crops were designated for offering. So begins the first tragic story of brother killing brother. We understand that the Torah’s narrative is replete with powerful messages and lessons. How do we understand this incident between history’s first two sons? First and foremost: Why did Hashem not accept Kayin’s korban, offering?…

Continue Reading

ותרא האשה כי טוב העץ למאכל וכי תאוה היא לעינים... ותקח מפריו ותאכל

And the woman perceived that the tree was good for eating and that it was a delight for the eyes… and she took of its fruit and ate. (3:6)

A horrible tragedy occurred in Telshe, Lithuania, during the tenure of Horav Yosef Yehudah Leib Bloch, zl, as Rosh Yeshivah and Rav (about one hundred years ago). A secular Jewish student with no ties whatsoever to religion rented an attic apartment in town and succumbed to the severe depression that plagued him. Following the incident, the owners of the house in which the deed was done would hear and then see plaster fall from the ceiling. The owner of the house was himself also not an observant Jew, so, at first, he ignored it. (A religious Jew takes nothing at…

Continue Reading

וירא אלקים את כל אשר עשה והנה טוב מאד

G-d saw all that He had made, and behold it was very good. (1:31)

It was not just “good” – it was very good. Each of Hashem’s creations was good in its own right. When combined together as part of the greater creation, the totality was even better, explains the Meshech Chochmah. Horav S. R. Hirsch, zl, views this alternatively. Can we say that all of Hashem’s creations were good? Are suffering, pain, grief, temptation and death considered to be good? Surely, we could do without any of these. Rav Hirsch explains that, indeed, isolated and viewed in a free-standing context, these challenges to life do not come across as being good. As part…

Continue Reading

והארץ היתה תהו ובהו וחשך על פני תהום...ויאמר אלקים יהי אור ויהי אור... ויבדל אלקים בין האור ובין החשך

When the earth was astonishingly empty, with darkness upon the surface of the deep. (1:2) G-d said, “Let there be light,” and there was light, and G-d separated between the light and the darkness. (1:3,4)

In what must be the most interpreted, but yet remains the most enigmatic, ambiguous pesukim, the Torah commences with the story of Creation. It is a topic which can be studied for a lifetime and its interpretation still remains elusive, because its profundity is far above our mortal cognitive limitations. Just to give the reader snippets to think about, I cite from Kol HaTorah by Horav Eliyahu Munk, zl, concerning the phrase v’choshech al pnei sehom; “with darkness upon the surface of the deep.” The Ramban explains that darkness is not to be thought of as an absence of light,…

Continue Reading

ולא ידע איש קברתו עד היום הזה

And no one knows his burial place to this day. (34:6)

Rashi quotes Chazal (Sotah 14a) who say that Hashem buried Moshe Rabbeinu. Rabbi Yishmael contends that Moshe buried himself, since the Torah writes, “No one knows Moshe’s burial place.” If this is the case, another person could not have buried him, indicating either that he was either buried by Hashem or that he buried himself. The Zohar HaKadosh adds that Moshe’s “burial place” is not only a reference to his physical burial place in this world, but also to his exalted place of repose in Olam Habba, the World to Come. No one/no other soul is permitted access into his…

Continue Reading

ויקבר אתו בגי בארץ מואב מול בית פעור

And (he) they buried him in the valley, in the land of Moav, facing Beis Peor. (34:6)

The Talmud (Sotah 14a) explains that Moshe Rabbeinu was buried opposite the Peor idol in order to atone for the sin of Peor. What does the Peor idol have to do with the Jewish People? Indeed, if it had been Heavenly decreed that Moshe would be buried opposite Peor, could there not have been a more positive way of describing the location? Secondly, why was our quintessential Rebbe and leader buried in such an ignominious location opposite such a degenerate idol? Chazal seem to be addressing these questions when they say that Moshe was buried there in order to atone…

Continue Reading

וזאת הברכה אשר ברך משה ... את בני ישראל לפני מותו

And this is the blessing with which Moshe blessed… Bnei Yisrael before his death. (33:1)

Rashi notes the apparently unnecessary phrase, lifnei moso, before his death; obviously, this took place prior to our leader’s passing from the world. After all, could Moshe Rabbeinu bless the people after his death? We understand this phrase to mean “immediately before he died.” The Maharal m’Prague comments that Moshe blessed the people at the last possible moment, to teach us that the primary role of a leader is to rebuke and guide his people. He should wait until his task is complete before blessing them. Rashi alludes to the urgency of Moshe’s blessing. Moshe knew that his death was…

Continue Reading

זה ספר תולדות אדם

This is the account of the descendants of Adam. (5:1)

The Midrash (cited by Yalkut Shemoni Bereishis 5:41) relates that Hashem passed all forthcoming generations before Adam HaRishon. When Adam saw that David Hamelech had been allotted only three hours of life, he asked, “Hashem, is there no remedy for this? (Is there not some way to lengthen David’s life?)” Hashem replied, “This is, indeed, what I had in mind (accept the three hours without question). Adam then asked, “How many years of life have I been allotted?” Hashem replied, “One thousand years.” Adam asked, “May I give a gift?” Hashem said, “Yes.” Adam then bequeathed seventy years of his…

Continue Reading

ויקם קין אל הבל אחיו ויהרגהו

And Kayin rose against his brother Hevel and killed him. (4:8)

The world consisted of four human beings. Kayin killed his brother Hevel. They were reduced to three people. Kayin was the world’s first murderer. Hevel was the world’s first victim. Without question, Kayin deserved to be punished for wiping out one-fourth of the world population. What about Hevel? One does not become a victim just because he was in the wrong place at the wrong time. We do not believe in coincidence or chance. If Hevel was designated to be the victim, there is a reason. Nothing occurs in this world unless it has been Heavenly-decreed. Hevel must have acted…

Continue Reading

לא טוב היות האדם לבדו

It is not good that man be alone. (2:18)

This most telling pasuk defines the role of a wife in one’s life, ie, tov, good. When one is alone, he is missing that ingredient that transforms his life to “good.” The commentators, each in his own inimitable manner, offer their understanding of the word tov and how it affects – and is realized in – marriage. Years ago, I was privy to a conversation between a gadol, Torah giant, and a distinguished lay leader. The lay leader was sitting shivah, mourning the untimely passing of his wife, and the Rosh Yeshivah, who had sadly undergone a similar tragedy a…

Continue Reading

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join our weekly Peninim on the Torah list!

You have Successfully Subscribed!