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

The Torah enumerates the generations that descended from Adam Ha’Rishon.   In his inimitable manner, Horav Moshe Swift, zl, suggests a homiletic interpretation of this pasuk.  “The book of life is the generations of man.”  There are all kinds of books. Some are worth reading, while others  are nothing more than trash.  Some books teach valuable lessons with profound meaning, while other books leave no lasting impression.  We are pages in the book of life written by our parents.  They are the cover, the binding that holds the pages together.  We write the pages based upon the way that we act…

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Hashem turned to Hevel and to his offering…But to Kayin and to his offering He did not turn…This annoyed Kayin exceedingly…And Hashem said to Kayin, “Why are you annoyed?” (4:4,5,6)

Hashem is questioning Kayin about the source of his depression.  Does not the Torah, however, in the preceding pasuk clearly state the reason for Kayin’s annoyance: Hashem’s rejection of his offerings.  Is that not enough reason for one to be despondent?  Horav Chaim Brisker, zl, gives a practical explanation to the query.  Hashem asked Kayin, “Why are you really upset? Is it because your korban,offering, was not accepted, or is there a deeper reason, the fact that your brother’s korban was accepted?”  Quite possibly Kayin’s dejection was not due to his own rejection by the Almighty.  Perhaps the real problem…

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Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and cling to his wife. (2:24)

Is this really the way it is supposed to be?  For what purpose do parents spend their lives raising children, enduring hardship, frustration, and at times, pain? When their son grows up, should he reject them in order to cling to his wife?  This cannot be the Torah’s intention.  Radak says that the pasuk only implies a physical separation.  His attachment to his wife requires him to move out of his home of origin in order to establish a new home with her.  This writer once heard an explanation for this pasuk that sets the tone for marriage.  While one…

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And Hashem made the two great luminaries, the greater luminary to dominate the day and the lesser luminary to dominate the night. (1:16)

Chazal tell us that originally the sun and moon had been  the same size.  The moon complained, asking, “How can two kings rule simultaneously?”  In other words, the moon felt that one of the luminaries should be diminshed in size.  Hashem, thereupon, told the moon to diminish itself so that the sun would be the dominant luminary.  Chazal characterize the moon’s remark as  inappropriate.  The moon receives its light from the sun.  Thus, the sun is the mashpiah, source of light, and the moon is the mekabel, reflecting the light it receives from the sun.  This was unacceptable to the…

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Hashem saw that the light was good, and Hashem separated between the light and the darkness. (1:4)

If the light was so “good” and the darkness less positive, why did Hashem merely separate them?  Why did Hashem not banish darkness to some abyss, permitting “light” to shine all day?  Why do they have equal time?  Horav Yosef Chaim M’Bagdad, zl, explains that darkness increases our appreciation of light.  He recounts an incident involving  the Baal Haflaah,  who was in need of a minyan at his home.  After he was able to gather ten men, he realized that one of them was not  desirable for a minyan.  Thus, he sought another person.  The individual in question  was no…

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

  We can translate the first pasuk of the Torah in a number of ways. Homiletically, the word “bereishis” can be translated as “bishvil reishis,” “because of the beginning.”  This implies that the world was created as a result  of things that are called “reishis,” things that are of such prime significance that the Torah refers to them as reishis.  Chazal accord two entities this distinction: the Torah and Klal Yisrael.  Using this hypothesis, Hashem created the world so that Klal Yisrael would accept and observe the Torah.  The Ohr Hachaim Hakadosh adds by inference that one who studies Torah,…

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