Friday, October 16, 2009

Why Start the Torah With Bereishis?

In the Ramban's Toras Hashem Temima he discusses the difference between Reishis and Techila, both words mean in the beginning, however, their implications are completely different. Without referencing the Ramban, I am going to hit on the same idea.

The question here is why did the Torah start with Bireishis instead of techila? If we are talking about the beginning of a project it seems like techila is a more appropriate word. The word techila denotes the beginning of an action, whereas Reishis refers more to the importance of something. This is why the head is referred to as the Rosh, because it is the most important part of the body, but techila only refers to a sequence of events.

This can teach us something about the idea of Breishis bara elokim. Does it mean that the first thing G-D created was the heavens and earth? Maybe. However, if this was the only thing G-D was tring to convey then why not say Bihatchala? The reason is that G-D is teaching us that the most important parts of creation are the heavens and earth, not necessarily that they were created first.

But now we can ask, "Who cares?" Who cares that the heavens and earth are the most important creations. What is that going to teach me? This is the question that I really want to answer.

The fact that G-D tells us that the HEAVENS and EARTH are the most important creations tells us a tremendous idea. One needs to realize that this world and the next world are both important. It did not say the heavens were created bireishis, nor did it say that the earth was created bireishis, rather the Torah tells us both were created bireishis. G-D is telling us that they are both important.

With this in mind, one can understand why G-D started the Torah with bireishis. Before one can appreciate anything in the Torah they have to understand that Heaven and Earth are of equal importance. If one thinks that heaven is more important, they can not properly understand the Torah. If one thinks earth is more important, they have missed the boat. Only if a person can find the proper balance can they truly appreciate the Torah.

This is a nice idea, but how can we put this in to practice? The way I see it is that one must see the commandments of Bein Adam lamakom (between man and G-D) as of equal importance as the bein adam lichavairo (between man and man) and vice versa. To think one is more important than the other is to miss the whole point of the Torah. The Torah teaches of the relationship between man and G-D, but it also teaches of the relationships between men. Throughout the Torah is a mixture of relationships and they are examples of how to act and how not to act, on top of the relationships between man and G-D that teach one how to act and not to act in that arena.


Dan - Israeli Uncensored News said...

According to Shoher, Bereshit has an added connotation of "principally". In fact, this is the main meaning, while "in the beginning" is derivative sense. So the chapter lists principal action by God rather than merely the first ones. Thus bereshit instead of tchila.

E-Man said...

Who or what is Shoher? Sorry for my ignorance.