"God created the world with words. What types of things can we create with words?"
“God created the world with words. What types of things can we create with words?”

Learning Group—Parshat Breishit

Breishit 1:1-6:8

Haftara: Isaiah 42:5-43:10

1. [1:1] “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” The most common way of translating the first pasuk in the Torah is, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” Rashi translates it, “In the beginning of the creation of the heavens and the earth, the earth was unformed and void…” What is the difference between these 2 translations? How do we see creation of the world differently according to each of the translations?

2. [1:3] “And God said, “Let there be light, and there was light.” God created the world with words. What types of things can we create with words? In what ways or in what situations are words not sufficient for us? Why does the Jewish mystical tradition attach so much power to words?

5. [3:22] “…man has become like Me knowing good and evil…” What did Adam and Chava lose by eating from the tree and what did they gain?

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 guarded , but is open to those who have developed morality and order. What other ideal qualities would be substituted for morality and order by other Jewish philosophies or movements (Chassidut, Mussar, religious-nationalism etc.)? What would an ideal Jewish society be for each of these philosophies or movements?

2. [4:9] “…am I my brother’s keeper?” The Torah does not have grammatical punctuation. In this pasuk, Cain could be speaking cynically or he could be speaking innocently. What is the difference to the story between these 2 ways of readings the pasuk, and how do each of the 2 different readings change our view of Cain?

Commentary

[Breishit 1:1] “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.”

This one verse is sufficient to teach us to see the world as God’s world and ourselves as God’s creatures, to prepare us for the demand that we are to recognize this world and ourselves as emanations of God, and therefore, as God’s sacred possessions, and that in this world of God, we are to use all of our energies—which also belong to him—solely for the purpose of doing His will.

–R. Shimshon Raphael Hirsch, 1808-1888, Germany.

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

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