Parshat Bereshit

By: Devorah Goldson | Merekezet Tochniot, Bnei Akiva of the US & Canada

We just finished celebrating the Chag of Sukkot and Simchat Torah, when we rejoice and dance to celebrate the precious gift Hashem gave us!

Now we come to the very first parsha in the Torah – Bereshit; a new book, a new sefer, and a year of new beginnings. In Bereshit (1:31), we see it written, “And Hashem saw all that He made and behold, it was very good.” Since there is no extra or unnecessary word in the Torah, what is added by informing us that Hashem’s work was very good and not simply good?

Rabbi Avigdor Miller explains: When one does not know what he possesses, he is poor. Imagine that you purchased a vacant lot and built a house on it. You live there for the next thirty years. Then, one night, the telephone rings, and you hear a quavering old voice saying, “I am the last survivor of a group that buried a chest of precious gems on the lot where your house now stands. Since I am about to die, I wish you to know.”

Now you are so joyous that you cannot sleep. You are wealthy! But really, what has changed? For the last 30 years you already possessed the unclaimed treasure. But even though the treasure was only a few inches beneath your feet, it was of no benefit to you until you knew what you possessed!

The knowledge that you now have – that is your true wealth. Without knowing the value of what you own, you really possess nothing at all.

Therefore, when Hashem created the world and gave it to us, He informed us that all He created was very good. The Creator declares: “My children, be sure to use the gift I gave you in a way that will bring you true happiness, for I give you that which is very good!”

How do we make the most of Hashem’s gift to us? Do we give or do we take? It’s a choice we all face. And it’s sometimes hard to know what to do. This week’s Torah portion, the first of the entire Torah, teaches us that G-d created the universe and everything in it. But we also have to understand why.

G-d didn’t “need” the world. He only created us in order to be able to give us the priceless opportunity that live in this world provides. When we act as “givers” we are doing something great and acting b’tzelem Elokim – in the image of G-d. This is what gives our lives meaning and makes us truly happy. It’s a wonderful feeling when we can choose to give to one another and fully share the wealth that we have been given ourselves!

Shabbat Shalom L’Kulam