Thursday, October 27, 2016

Dvar Torah for Parshas Bereishis

       We once again begin a new cycle of Torah reading this week with Parshas Bereishis. While we learned the story of Creation at a very young age, this parsha is not at all a simple children’s tale. It is without question, the most esoteric portion of the entire Torah. It gives us a glimpse into the framework of the World, and how Hashem meant for things to be when He first set it up. Even though it is practically impossible for us to penetrate all the parsha’s meanings, by examining it as thoroughly as we can, we can begin to understand the meaning of Creation.
       An example of this is the creation of woman. The Torah explains that originally man was created alone, without a mate. Then Hashem decides to change that.[1]וַיֹּ֨אמֶר֙ יְהֹוָ֣ה אֱלֹהִ֔ים לֹא־ט֛וֹב הֱי֥וֹת הָֽאָדָ֖ם לְבַדּ֑וֹ אֶֽעֱשֶׂה־לּ֥וֹ עֵ֖זֶר כְּנֶגְדּֽוֹ“And Hashem Elokim said, ‘It is not good that man is alone; I shall make him a helpmate opposite him” (Bereishis 2:18). Why was it so bad that man was alone? What was the real purpose behind creating a mate for him? The various commentaries discuss this question.
       Rashi, the classic commentary on all parts of the Torah, explains that the creation of woman was not just for the good of man. All the other animals in the world had mates; if man had no mate, that would leave just two beings without mates, man and God. Hashem was worried that the other beings would look at man as being equal with Him, because if man doesn’t have a mate, it must be he doesn’t need one, just like Hashem! Therefore, He created woman to save the world from confusion and heresy.
       The Ramban first clarifies that the reason Hashem created woman had nothing to do with reproduction. If He originally created man alone then obviously there was some way for him to produce progeny as a single being. However, if created alone, man might begin to think that it would be better for him not to produce progeny and remain alone forever.
       By each day of creation, Hashem looked at His work and declared it to be ‘good’. The Ramban explains that this ‘good’ means that it was fit to remain perpetually. So if man had no desire to reproduce, he couldn’t be called ‘good’ since he would not perpetuate. By creating him a partner, Hashem showed man the benefits of not being alone and thereby giving him a desire to have children. Only then could man be truly ‘good.’
       The Kli Yakar offers a different explanation for this phrase. He explains that ‘good’ is connected to togetherness and cooperation. Wherever there is controversy, ‘good’ cannot survive. Controversy stems from separation, the opposite of togetherness.
        As we see later on in the parsha, woman was created from a piece of man, meaning, man and woman come from the same source; they are made of the same material. If man and woman had been created from two totally separate material sources, then they would be naturally separate and prone to controversy. This is unacceptable for, more than any other creation, it is vital for human beings, especially spouses, to be able to trust each other and work together. So when Hashem said it’s not good for man to be alone, what He meant was that it’s not good for man to be of one source material and woman to be of another; the best way for them to function is for both to be of the same source, thus allowing them to love and trust each other and be for each other עֵ֖זֶר כְּנֶגְדּֽוֹ.

Shabbat Shalom!

[1] The fact that Hashem seemingly ‘changed His mind’ is a subject discussed in the various commentaries and is beyond the scope of our discussion. The issue is, since Hashem is perfect, if He changed His mind, it would seem to indicate that He made a mistake which He now had to fix. This obviously is not the case.

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