14 Oct 2020 Bereishis: The Seal of Creation & New OU Parsha Podcast, Link to Sign Up!
5781. A new year. New beginnings. A new cycle of Torah reading and learning. Bereishis.
בְּרֵאשִׁ֖ית בָּרָ֣א אלקים אֵ֥ת הַשָּׁמַ֖יִם וְאֵ֥ת הָאָֽרֶץ – In the beginning, G-d created the heavens and the earth (Bereishis 1:1).
Parshas Bereishis: The creation of the world; the formation of man and woman; the primordial serpent; the first sin; banishment from the Garden of Eden; the first murder; the generations of man; the degeneration of mankind; G-d’s resolve to destroy the world which He had created.
The Sages (Shabbos 55a) teach that חוֹתָמוֹ שֶׁל הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא אֱמֶת, the seal of Hashem is emes, truth. Rashi (ibid) comments: חותמו של הקב“ה אמת – אמצעית לאותיות וראשון ואחרון: the seal of G-d is truth: the middle, first and last letters of the alef beit (alef, mem, tav) spell emes – which is the seal of G-d, על שם אני ראשון ואני אחרון ואני הוא, For I, G-d, am First, I am last, and I am He [aside from Me there is no other – cf. Is.44:6].
Embedded into the very beginnings of our Torah, and woven into Ma’aseh Bereishis, is this seal of G-d.
On the words בָּרָ֣א אלקים אֵ֥ת, the Ba’al Ha’Turim (Bereishis 1:1) teaches:
סופי תבות אמת, מלמד שברא העולם באמת, כמו שנ׳ ״ראש דברך אמת״ – the final letters spell emes (truth). This teaches that G-d created the world with truth, as the verse states: The beginning of your word is truth (Ps.119:160).
Furthermore, the Ba’al Ha’Turim continues:
וַיַּרְא אלקים אֶת – and G-d saw the light (that it was good) (1:4); the final letters spell emes;
וַיִּבְרָא אלקים, אֶת – and G-d created (1:21 and 1:27); the final letters spell emes;
וַיַּרְא אלקים אֶת – and G-d saw (1:31) – the final letters spell emes;
בָּרָא אלקים לַעֲשׂוֹת – G-d created to make (2:3) – the final letters spell emes.
Throughout every stage of creation, G-d threaded His seal of Truth into our existence.
In a world where truth seems to have disappeared from the world stage, it is a message and lesson that we, bnei Torah, would do well to remember.
Not for naught do the Sages teach that: רַבָּן שִׁמְעוֹן בֶּן גַּמְלִיאֵל אוֹמֵר, עַל שְׁלֹשָׁה דְבָרִים הָעוֹלָם קַיָּם עַל הַדִּין, וְעַל הָאֱמֶת, וְעַל הַשָּׁלוֹם – Rabbi Shimon ben Gamliel would say: Upon three things is the world sustained: upon justice, upon truth, and upon peace (Mishnah Avos 1:18).
Comments the Bartenura (ibid): וְעַל הָאֱמֶת. שֶׁלֹּא יְשַׁקְּרוּ אִישׁ בַּעֲמִיתוֹ – that a man should not lie to his fellow. Rabbeinu Yona (ibid) teaches that as we are commanded to walk in G-d’s ways, שנאמר והלכת בדרכיו [Deut.28:9], we too must walk always along the path of truth.
The seal of Hashem is truth, the Torah of Moshe is truth, and we must always strive to speak, teach and live by the truth. It is a lesson and way of life embodied by our greatest leaders and teachers.
“R’ Moshe’s (R’ Moshe Feinstein zt’l, 1895-1986) commitment to truth in his everyday life was unwavering; nothing in the world could ever cause him to stray from it. Undoubtedly this attribute was another important reason why Hashem, Whose seal is truth, granted him the help needed to arrive at the truth in halachah.
“His passion for truth went to unusual lengths. He always insisted on paying for the breakfast he ate in Tifereth Jerusalem. While the yeshiva administration felt that he was entitled to the breakfast – and a great deal more – R’ Moshe would not hear of it. He received a salary from the yeshiva for his services and he would not accept a penny more than had been agreed upon. Of course, when it came to making appeals, attending functions, or doing anything else to raise funds for the yeshiva, R’ Moshe was always ready to be of service, without the slightest notion of accepting payment for such voluntary services” (Reb Moshe, 25th Yahrzeit Edition, Artscroll, p.195).”
“Once, when judging a din Torah, R’ Moshe caught someone offering testimony that was clearly false. He reprimanded the man and asked him to leave the room.
“While judging a dispute, R’ Moshe stated a halachah that was not to the liking of one of the parties involved. The man had the audacity to accuse R’ Moshe of falsifying the law so that the case would be brought to a speedy conclusion. R’ Moshe rose to his full height and emphatically declared: ‘My name is Moshe Feinstein. True, I do not know how to learn. But go in the streets and ask if I am a liar!’” (ibid, p.438-439).
L’havdil, Abraham Lincoln (1809 – 1865) famously said: I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The great point is to bring them the real facts.
Would that we merit that the ultimate truth will be revealed to our people, our Land and our world, וְהָיָה ה’ לְמֶלֶךְ, עַל–כָּל–הָאָרֶץ; בַּיּוֹם הַהוּא, יִהְיֶה ה’ אֶחָד וּשְׁמוֹ אֶחָד – and Hashem will be King upon the entire earth, on that day Hashem will be One and His Name will be One (Zechariah 14:9).
בברכת בשורות טובות ושבת שלום,
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