Creation Language

“The heavens declare the glory of G-d; and the firmament sheweth his handiwork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge. – Psalms 19:1-2

G-d’s creation is interactive, in the sense that we can hear His voice echoed across the ages since the beginning of time. His words are everlasting, having the effect of bringing us into “right relationship with Him.” Over the course of one’s lifetime, we hopefully grow more mature, and increase in our understanding of the world. Yet, the beginning of wisdom is fear (awe, reverence, and respect) towards the L-RD. Therefore, we may know much, yet comprehend little of the universe, and its designs for the benefit of our spiritual growth. Pray that you will be enlightened to the wisdom from Above. May your soul flourish in His grace and bask in the light of His Presence. Amein.

parasha Bereishis 5783

dvar for parashas Bereishis 5783

וְהָאָ֗רֶץ הָיְתָ֥ה תֹ֙הוּ֙ וָבֹ֔הוּ וְחֹ֖שֶׁךְ עַל־פְּנֵ֣י תְה֑וֹם וְר֣וּחַ אֱלֹהִ֔ים מְרַחֶ֖פֶת עַל־פְּנֵ֥י הַמָּֽיִם׃

“Now the earth was unformed and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the spirit of G-d hovered over the face of the waters.” – Genesis 1:2, JPS 1917 Tanach

“The throne of Divine Glory was standing in space, hovering over the face of the waters by the breath of the mouth of the Holy One, blessed be He, and by His command, even as a dove hovers over its nest.” – Rashi, sefaria.org

In the beginning of Creation, “when G-d began to create heaven and earth” (Genesis 1:1, JPSN), the earth was tohu vavohu (formless and empty). “At the beginning G’d created a minute amount of matter out of absolute nothingness. This contained within itself the potential and energy to expand into what we call “heaven and earth” (R’ Bachya on Genesis 1:2, sefaria.org). Prior to the 1950’s, science adhered to the Aristotelian belief that the Universe always existed. When scientists discovered that the universe was expanding, science proffered that there was a distinct beginning, ex nihilo – something out of nothing. So, it took several thousand years for science to “catch up” with the creation account in Torah, as R’Bachya explains (circa 1255 – 1340).

“With the beginning of the manifestation of the King’s will, that is, when the King desired to emanate and create the world, a hard spark made an engraving upon the supernal light. This hard spark [matter], which emanated from the most concealed of all concealed things from the secret of the Endlessness Light took a shapeless form. The spark was then inserted into the center of a circle [from here, it expanded outward]” (Zohar 15a, sefaria.org). That spark is called reishis (first).

His Glory Across the Heavens

“Thou art clothed with glory and majesty. Who coverest Thyself with light as with a garment, who stretchest out the heavens like a curtain.” – Psalms 104:1-2, JPS 1917 Tanach


In like manner that a tallis (prayer shawl) is draped over the shoulders, so are the heavens stretched out like a curtain. “Thou art clothed with glory and majesty. Who coverest Thyself with light as with a garment, who stretchest out the heavens like a curtain” (Psalms 104:1-2, JPS 1917 Tanach). What lesson can be learned from this? We are to reflect His kavod (glory), while draped in a tallis; and remind ourselves of His majesty each hand every day of our lives. The heavens are there to remind us.

G-d’s Architect

parashas Vayakhel 5782

“The Lord, by wisdom, founded the earth; by understanding He established the heavens. By His knowledge the depths were broken up and the skies drop down the dew” (Proverbs 3:19-20, JPSN). These three qualities, wisdom, understanding, and knowledge were imbued in the heart of Bezalel, “And I have filled him with the spirit of G-d, in wisdom, and in understanding, and in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship” (Exodus 31:3; Berachos 55).

The sages say of Betzalel that he was capable of using the letters of the alphabet of the Holy Tongue in a manner similar to the way G’d had used them when creating the universe (Sforno). How remarkable to note this comparison. The building of the Mishkan was like unto the creation of the world. And, how remarkable that the chosen craftsman for overseeing the construction of the Mishkan was given qualities inspired by the Ruach Elokim (G-d’s Spirit).

We should marvel at the construction of the Mishkan, as well as the Creation of the World. G-d’s Creation is a masterpiece beyond compare; yet, reflected in the Mishkan. Our appreciation of the Mishkan, although we only have the written account, should compel us all the more to appreciate G-d’s Creation. For, “the heavens declare the glory of G-d, the sky proclaims His handiwork” (Psalms 19:2, JPS 2006 Tanach). King David compares the orderliness of the heavens, and the sun in particular to the perfectness of Torah (Psalms 19:3-10).

“And in the hearts of all the wise-hearted, I have placed wisdom.” – Exodus 31:6

The builders of the Mishkan were also imbued with wisdom. Through Torah, we learn of the right ways to interact, harmonize, and build the world, bringing G-d’s perfection of creation into every part and parcel of our lives. May we continue this endeavor, in the face of adversity, chaos, and the imbalances currently found within societies around the world. H’Shem will grant us an assurance of tomorrow’s promises, when we focus on His Kingdom being established through Moshiach. And, the Torah will go out from Zion as is written:

“And it shall come to pass in the end of days, that the mountain of the L-RD’s house shall be established as the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. And many peoples shall go and say: ‘Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the L-RD, to the house of the G-d of Jacob; and He will teach us of His ways, and we will walk in His paths.’ For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the L-RD from Jerusalem” (Isaiah 2:2-3, JPS 1917 Tanach).

The Mishkan & Creation

parashas Vayakhel 5782

“And He hath filled him with the spirit of G-d, in wisdom, in understanding, and in all manner of workmanship.” – Exodus 35:31 JPS, 1917 Tanach

Moshe assembled B’nei Yisrael, reiterating what H’Shem had commanded to him, while on Mount Sinai, to speak to them that they bring an offering – willingly from the heart – to contribute materials to build the Mishkan (Tabernacle). Bezalel is chosen by H’Shem to oversee the entire project, that would amount to a great artistic endeavor; moreover, Bezalel is endowed by H’Shem with the Spirit of G-d (Ruach Elokim), in wisdom (chochmah), in understanding (binah), and in knowledge (da’as)” (Exodus 35:31).

The Talmud notes in Berachos 55a that these same qualities were used by H’Shem to create the Heavens and Earth (see also Proverbs 3:19-20). This comparison points towards the idea that the Mishkan (Tabernacle) itself is a reflection of Heaven on Earth. H’Shem’s Presence (the Shechinah) dwelt in the Mishkan between the two golden Cherubim on the cover of the Ark of the Covenant, from where H’Shem spoke to Moshe; in this sense, the Mishkan encapsulated a smaller rendering of H’Shem’s Glory in Shomayim (Heaven), where, according to the vision of the prophet Ezekiel (see Ezekiel 10:1), H’Shem is surrounded by Cherubim.

In consideration of the designation of the Mishkan as a place where the Shechinah would dwell, it is all the more understandable why its master craftsman was endowed with the same qualities that H’Shem used to create the Heavens and Earth: a microcosm of the whole (Akeidut Yitzchak), the Mishkan required more than artistic capabilities; rather, it called for divine intuition, in regard to making patterns found in the Heavenly Realm. That may be the reason that the most-used color of various components of the Mishkan was blue, denoting a similarity to “the sea that resembles Heaven, and Heaven resembles the Throne of Glory,” as mentioned in the Talmud, tractate Menachos 43a, based on Exodus 1:24, and Ezekiel 1:26.

“The L-RD by wisdom founded the earth; by understanding He established the heavens. By His knowledge the depths were broken up, and the skies drop down the dew.”

 – Proverbs 3:19-20, JPS 1917 Tanach

G-d’s Presence in the World

TANYA Insights: 11 Shevat (leap year) 5782

“By the word of the L-RD were the heavens made; and all the hosts of them by the breath of His mouth. ”– Psalm 33:6, JPS 1917 Tanach

A Chassidic perspective emphasizes the need for the continual maintenance of the universe – G-d’s Creation – through His will that constantly maintains the existence of the world. Without His continual presence as the force that sustains the world, the world would cease to exist. In reading today’s passage from the TANYA, I thought how this idea can be compared to an event in this week’s Torah reading. Namely, when “Moses held out his arm over the sea, and at daybreak the sea returned to its normal state” (Exodus 14:27, JPS 1985 Tanach).

Inasmuch that “the sea returned to its normal state,” this connotes the understanding that the normal laws of gravity were restored to the sea. For, two towering walls of water had formed a corridor for B’nei Yisrael to cross through the Sea of Reeds, to be safely ensconced on the other shore. As the Egyptians pursued the Children of Israel, these walls collapsed upon them, drowning Pharaoh and his army in the sea. The restoration to natural law, and the subsequent collapse of the sea walls was signaled by Moshe’s act of holding “his arm over the sea.”

At that point H’Shem relinquished His influence over gravity, thus causing the sea to be restored to its original natural state. The TANYA passage relates how that if H’Shem caused His Will to cease from maintaining the Universe, all would return to its former state of nothingness, before the beginning of time. Clearly, the example given above is a more comprehensible occurrence, whereas, mankind can hardly conceive of the world ceasing to exist. It would be like a computer without electricity – blank screen.

Metaphorically, this should help us to better appreciate the presence of G-d in the world, that animates all spheres of life, plant, animal and human, as well as inanimate objects such as stones, precious metals, and the different layers of the earth, not to mention the artistic beauty of the skies, especially at sunrise and sunset. Shiveesee H’Shem l’negdi tamid – I am ever mindful of the L-RD’s presence (Psalm 16:8).

Mishnah Insights: Berachos 6:2

Mishnah Berachos 6:2 – The Shehacol Blessing

The shehacol is the “catch-all blessing,” made before partaking of food. Although, the blessing specifically applies to certain foods such as eggs, cheese, and milk that would not fall under other categories, like prei ha’adamah (fruit of the earth) and prei ha’etz (fruit of the tree). So, if there is an understanding that by default, the shehacol blessing (shehacol nihiyeh b’dvarot – who creates all things through His word) seemingly covers all foods, then why are there so many particulars?

By analogy, the question may be asked, that if blue is blue, why are there so many shades of blue, or any other color? The rich diversity of G-d’s creation, whether His beautiful artwork, a tapestry in the sky, or a canvas at sunset, is such because of its inclusion of so many diverse elements that blend in harmony with His creation, and abide in accordance with His will. To ignore the various shades of the color spectrum, or fail to differentiate between so many types of foods is to diminish the grandeur of G-d’s creation. These are only my thoughts and not a halachic answer.

Aside from any discussion on the proper blessing to make before partaking of food, consider the following: proper awe, reverence, and respect towards the Creator Who provided the food. There is a story of a peasant who would like to thank the baker for the bread he ate. Upon thanking the baker, the baker said not to thank him, thank the miller who ground the wheat. The miller said to thank the farmer who harvested the wheat. The farmer said thank the earth. The earth said to thank the rain that replenished the earth. The rain said to thank the clouds that made the rain. The clouds said to thank the sun, because, without sunshine, the wheat could not grow. The sun said to thank G-d who made all celestial beings. And so that is one way to understand why we praise G-d with blessings over food and show gratitude towards Him for the food on our table.

In the Beginning

dvar for parashas Bereishis 5782

וְהָאָ֗רֶץ הָיְתָ֥ה תֹ֙הוּ֙ וָבֹ֔הוּ וְחֹ֖שֶׁךְ עַל־פְּנֵ֣י תְה֑וֹם וְר֣וּחַ אֱלֹהִ֔ים מְרַחֶ֖פֶת עַל־פְּנֵ֥י הַמָּֽיִם׃

“Now the earth was unformed and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the spirit of G-d hovered over the face of the waters.” – Genesis 1:2, JPS 1917 Tanach

“The throne of Divine Glory was standing in space, hovering over the face of the waters by the breath of the mouth of the Holy One, blessed be He, and by His command, even as a dove hovers over its nest.” – Rashi, sefaria.org

In the beginning of Creation, “when G-d began to create heaven and earth” (Genesis 1:1, JPS 1985 Tanach), the earth was tohu vavohu (formless and empty). As summarized by R’Bachya, “At the beginning G’d created a minute amount of matter out of absolute nothingness. This contained within itself the potential and energy to expand into what we call “heaven and earth” (R’ Bachya on Genesis 1:2, sefaria.org). Doesn’t this sound familiar?

Prior to the 1950’s, science adhered to the Aristotelian belief that the Universe always existed. Yet, when the discovery was made that the universe was expanding, science proffered that there was a distinct beginning, ex nihilo – something out of nothing. In other words, it only took several thousand years for science to “catch up” with the creation account in Torah, as R’Bachya so deftly explains. Incidentally, R’Bachya lived between 1255 and 1340 C.E.

A similar account is found in the Zohar:

“With the beginning of the manifestation of the King’s will, that is, when the King desired to emanate and create the world, a hard spark made an engraving upon the supernal light. This hard spark [matter], which emanated from the most concealed of all concealed things from the secret of the Endlessness Light took a shapeless form. The spark was then inserted into the center of a circle [from here, it expanded outward]” (Zohar 15a, sefaria.org). That spark is called reishis (first).

Rashi comments upon the Ruach haElokim (the Spirit of G-d), that hovered over the surface of the waters upon the earth, that this phenomenon was akin to “a dove hovering over its nest.” The primordial material, according to R’Bachya is called tohu, while the first formations of that material into something distinct is referred to as vohu. Yet, essentially, “the earth had been in a chaotic state,” and the Ruach haElokim hovered over the mayim (waters) that may have represented the so called primordial soup from where all life began. Thus, it is clear that a divine force was at work, in conjunction with the elements of the universe that would become all life on earth.

poetry: Concealment

B”H

Listen to other people’s truth, with a lower case “t;”
yet, abide in the Truth that was taught to thee.

From the revelation at Sinai, to the Temple in Yerushalayim;
from ancient Israel, to the diaspora throughout the world.

We will survive in a world inharmonious with the words of Torah,
because our sanctity is reishis – from the beginning of G-d’s creation.

A spark of truth can be found everywhere,
to remind us of the the promises of H’Shem.

Revealed in antiquity through the prophets,
and carried into effect throughout history.

Even today, we are witnessing the footsteps
that will pave the way towards redemption.

after Shabbat: weekly shpiel

B”H

motzei Shabbos shpiel:

It is interesting to note, that in Nesivos Shalom, a significant point is made in regard to the light of the menorah in the Mishkan. As is well known, this light represents the original light of Creation, that was hidden away after the Mabul (Flood). This same light is said to be revealed to the righteous at the time of Moshiach (Messiah).

Until then, we may glimpse that light on Shabbos, as well as receive its residual glow through observing the mitzvot (commandments), and diminishing the yetzer hara (evil inclination), not necessarily in that order. Rather “sur meira, v’asei tov – depart from evil and do good” (Tehillim [Psalms] 37:27). In this manner, according to Nesivos Shalom, we may enhance our sensitivity to the light.