Past Weekly Shabbat Message
Rabbi Dovid Saks
(Torah Portion Beraishis) It's Very Good!
As we are set to begin the new yearly cycle of the weekly Torah reading, one may wonder what is the purpose of reviewing the Torah again and again? Is there more to Torah then the average book that is read once, maybe twice and then put away with no need to review?
Taking a moment to reflect on the following point may shed some light. Which other book is read and studied by a child barely the age of six as well as by the greatest of our elderly scholars? This fascinating phenomenon shows that there is indeed something unique about Torah and its study.
The truth is Torah is a Divine communication from G-d. Thus its value, instruction, laws, accounts and information is limitless, timeless and ageless. It transcends all worldly and scholarly limitations and each person is able to perceive it on his own level of intellectual maturity.
The Torah begins with describing the pattern of G-d’s creation. At the end of the first day, the Torah states, “G-d saw it was good.” However, on the second day of creation, the Torah does not state, “it was good.” This was because on the second day G-d parted and divided the waters, with some water remaining on earth while some were elevated to the heavens. This parting of the waters represents division and strife therefore G-d did not say “it was good.” In addition, because some of the second day’s creation were not fully completed until the third day, the Torah states, “G-d saw it was good,” twice, on the third day.
Incidentally, because of the double blessing of ‘Good,” on the third day, there are those who choose Tuesday, to begin a new endeavor.
On the fourth, fifth and sixth days of creation the Torah also states, “It was good,” however, on the sixth day after the creation of man – the ultimate purpose of all creation – the Torah tells us, “G-d saw that all He created was very good.”
All the elements and ingredients of creation meshed and functioned perfectly and in unity, establishing a faultless perfection in G-d’s creation where everything was balanced and was very good.
When man and woman sinned by eating the forbidden fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Bad, man acquired imperfection, and death was introduced in the world.
The function and mission of man from then on became to strive to reach the greatest levels of perfection possible.
Even things that seem to be evil, such as - suffering, death and temptation - appear so only when viewed in isolation, but when viewed in the full context of existence they will be seen as good and even very good. Rabbi Samson Rafael Hirsh o.b.m. points out, “If we could but perceive at one glance the entire picture of G-d’s management of intertwining events, we would agree with this conclusion.”
Every day throughout the course of the Holiday of Succos, we recited the Hallel – the prayer of praise. In this prayer, the congregation recites six times, “Give thanks to G-d, for He is good; His kindness endures forever.” Abarbanel points out that no matter what occurs, G-d is always good, and everything He does is for the best, although this may not be immediately apparent to man.
The Portion of Beraishis spans the first 1500 years of creation. During this era it was common for people to live eight, or even nine hundred years, but their longevity did not promote productive and good qualities. On the contrary, they became complacent and idle and began worshiping idols with their moral and ethical conduct spiraling down to the point that G-d decided to bring a massive flood to erase mankind and animal life, which were affected negatively by man’s misconduct.
One righteous person was left and that was Noach. Through Noach and his family the human race was kept alive and through their extraordinary efforts the animal kingdom was spared as well.
The Talmud tells us that Noach had acquired precepts and concepts of Torah, and he studied Torah. Thus we see that the study of Torah teaches us to live righteously and infuses one with spiritual elevation and has the awesome power to save an entire world from doom!
Wishing you a restful, peaceful
and inspirational Shabbos!
Rabbi Dovid Saks