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The Torah's Weekly Portions
Bereshit - 102


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Bereshit I:1 From the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. 2. And this earth was once confused and tangled, and darkness was over the turmoil, and the Breath of God hovered above the waters. 3. The God spake: Let there be light! And there was light. 4. And God saw the light that it was good, and God divided the light from the darkness. 5. And God called the light: Day! and to the darkness He called: Night! And it became evening and it became morning: one day. 6. And God spake: Let there be a vault in the midst of the waters and let it divide between waters and waters. 7. And God made the vault and divided the waters which were beneath the vault from the waters which were above the vault, and thus it became. 8. And God called to the vault: Heaven! And it became evening and it became morning: a second day. This leads to a question. Which heaven did God create in the very beginning and which did He create on the second day? The Hebrew word "shamayim" is in both verses. Is it the same heaven? I believe that the heaven referred to in Verse 1 is the spiritual realm, and that the earth is the physical realm. The Heaven referred to in Verse 8 is the heaven as in the space around our planet. If we think about it, there is little wonder that when people attempt to conceive of "heaven" or "shamayim" where the soul returns, after the physical cessation of life, that they tend to look at the sky. Yet, clearly, the spiritual heaven is not of this, or anywhere within this, realm. When we read this Parashah, there is a lengthy discussion concerning three of the children of Adam and Chava: Hevel (Abel), Cayin (Cain), and Shayt (Seth). One point worth mentioning is that many people ask, "Where did all these other people come from?" Good point. There is nothing in the Torah that says these are the only children Adam and Chava ever had. So why does the Torah speak about these three in particular? With the murder of Hevel, Cayin gave up any and all spiritual being. Shayt is the child that continued that line, as we shall see in our next commentary.

VI:1 And it came to pass when men began to multiply on the face of the earth and daughters were born unto them. 2. That the sons of the godly race saw the daughters of men that they were fair and they took themselves wives from wherever they chose. 3. Then God said: My spirit in Man will not remain judge for ever as he is also flesh; his days shall accordingly be an hundred and twenty years. 4. There were giants (n'filim) on the eath in those days and also after that, when the sons of the godly generation came to the daughters of men and they bare children unto them; they are the mighty men who, from ancient times are the men of renown.

Who was the godly race? The descendants of Shayt. Who were the men? The descendants of Cayin. We see in Verse 2 above that the godly men were drawn to the daughters of Cayin's family. In Verse 3, God laments the situation and determines that a maximum lifetime thereafter will be 120 years. Yet, there is a great deal more here to consider. The phrase "beauty is only skin deep" seems to be an appropriate analogy. Sadly, we will see this theme repeated in other parts of the Torah. And here we have a lesson to consider. When we seek only the most superficial of qualities upon which to make the most important of decisions, we are destined for catastrophy. It is my belief that this section is providing us with a warning and advice on how to grow beyond the basic levels of spirituality and success in life.

Verse 4 talks about "giants." Who were the giants? That is an excellent question with few answers in the commentaries. Rav Hirsch asks the very same question. Then he draws an interesting parallel and conclusion. He suggests that the term giant does not refer to physical stature. Rather, as is tied to the end of the quote, it means "men of renown." And now Rav Hirsch discusses the root of the word n'filim. It is nun-fay-lamed - n'fal - oddly this is nearly the same as the English word - fall. In other words, as we look at the continuing of the thought concerning choices based on superficiality, we see that God's message continues. When we made good decisions and choose the right path, nothing will destroy that faster than becoming arrogant or self-righteous. After all, a quick glance through history shows how those of renown fell as a result of their overwhelming sense of self-importance and superiority.

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Translations in Torah Portions of the week are partially taken from the ArtScroll Stone Edition Chumash and from Rav Samson Raphael Hirsch Chumash

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