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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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ויאמר אלקים נעשה אדם בצלמנו כדמותנו

And G-d said, “Let us make Man in Our image, in our likeness. (1:26)

We have the ability to perceive and study the most difficult subjects, to plumb the depths of the most intricate areas of science. When it comes to self-knowledge, however, some individuals still believe in the heresy of Darwinism. Horav Nissim Yagen, zl, explains it practically: “Because man thinks that he is himself a form of animal, therefore he believes that he descends from a monkey. If he would only recognize his actual inner essence, his extraordinary potential, he would be incapable of ever believing that he has descended from apes!” One who does not know or understand the value and…

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וישלחהו ד' אלקים מגן עדן לעבד את האדמה אשר לקח משם

So Hashem G-d banished him from Gan Eden to work the soil from which he was taken. (3:23)

The sin of Adam HaRishon had immediate and long-lasting repercussions. It was now impossible for Hashem to allow him to remain a guest in Gan Eden. Eating from the fruit of the Eitz HaDaas had changed him from a creation whose entire focus was spirituality – who had no inclination for anything but good – to a man who could now discriminate between good and bad. He was on a higher spiritual plane than animals, but was no longer on a level on par with angels. Man had now become unique among the terrestrial creatures, just as Hashem is unique among…

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בראשית ברא אלקים

In the beginning of G-d’s creating. (1:1)

Elokim is the Name of Hashem which denotes the attribute of Middas Ha’Din, Strict Justice. Rashi quotes the Midrash that posits that: Bitchilah, at first, alah b’machshavto, it entered “His mind” to create the world with Din, Justice; Ra’ah, He saw, that ein ha’olam miskayeim, the world under strict judgment cannot survive; He added Rachamim, the Attribute of Mercy, to temper the Din. Justice is the ideal state of the world, with man being treated as he deserves. If he acts inappropriately – he is punished. If he is virtuous – he receives reward. It is tit-for-tat, according to one’s…

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ולא יחבששו

And they were not ashamed. (2:25)

Prior to eating of the Eitz HaDaas, Tree of Knowledge, Adam and Chavah had no idea concerning the significance of tznius, moral modesty/privacy. Thus, they were not embarrassed by their lack of clothing, since, as Rashi explains, the concept of tznius allows a person to distinguish between good and bad. In other words, tznius is the barometer and medium by which one determines whether his actions are good or bad. By maintaining a tznius demeanor in thought, action and dress, one diminishes the opportunity for, and possibility of, improper temptation that can lead to sinful behavior. Guarding against a breakdown…

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