Parshat Breishit

Breishit 1:1-6:8

Haftara: Isaiah 42:5-43:10

  1. [Breishit 2:9] “…the tree of life was in the garden and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.” One of the commentaries says that after Adam and Chava ate the fruit, they saw life in terms of pleasant and unpleasant–good and bad. Why would seeing life in terms of pleasant and unpleasant, take a person out of paradise?
  1. [Breishit 2:20] “And the man called names to all the animals.” In the Jewish tradition in general, names are very important. Aren’t names just an efficient way of organizing the world? Why are names so important to us?
  1. [Breishit. 3:7] “God knows that on the day that you will eat from it, your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” One of the commentaries says that after Adam and Chava ate the fruit, they knew that “good-and-evil” can be mixed together. A person can do good and something bad can result, and vice-versa. In other words, Adam and Chava lost their innocence and were no longer in Paradise. However, the messianic era (also paradise) is at the end of history. What is the world-view of a person who loses his or her innocence and is still in paradise?
  1. [3:24] “…to guard the way to the tree of life”. According to Rav Shimshon Rafael Hirsch, the way to the tree of life—to true life– is heavily guarded, but is open to certain people who really want true life. What is “true life”, and how does relationship to God fit into “true life”?
  1. [Haftara: Isaiah 42:6] “…for a light to the nations”. The Jews are supposed to be a “light for the nations”. Does being a “light” mean to be an example in terms of morality, behaviour, knowledge, religiosity, perception of people and life or some other quality? In what way are we supposed to be an example?

Commentary

[19:18] “…and love your fellow person like you love yourself “.

A learned but ungenerous man said to R. Avraham of Stretyn (mid 1800’s–Poland): “They say that you give people mysterious drugs, and that your drugs are effective. Offer me one that will give me the fear of God.”

” I don’t know any drug for the fear of God,” said R. Avraham. “But if you like, I can give you one for the love of God.”

“That’s even better!” said the man. “Just give it to me.”

“It’s the love of your fellow men,” answered the tzaddik.

This study page is dedicated to the memory of Gad Eliahu ben David and Kochava—Eli Zucker

And this study page is dedicated to the memory of Sarah Bella bat Yitzchak Kummer, Chaim Yosef Yechiel ben Eliyahu Kummer and Eliyahu and Margaret Kummer