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Beit Midrash Torah Portion and Tanach Bereshit

G-d’s Reign & Man’s Rain

Rabbi Stewart WeissTishrei 25 5780
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Chazal suggest that the first letter of the Torah is a Bet - as opposed to an Alef - because the letter Bet "opens up" to all that comes after it, implying that all the secrets of the world can be found in the Torah – particularly in this first parsha – if only we work hard to reveal them.

The layout of the Creation story is to first present the broad, general outline of the 7 days of creation, & only later provide the details. This is most obvious in the creation of Man, as the Torah "fills in the blanks" quite a few p’sukim after the initial subject is recorded.

This is also true regarding the creation of the Earth’s vegetation. The Torah first says that G-d created herbs, grass & fruit-bearing trees on Day 3. Hashem then tells Adam on Day 6, "I have given you all that grows to serve as food for you." This is all in chapter 1.

But it is only in chapter 2 that we find a slight, yet significant revision: Yes, says the Torah, the potential for growth was indeed there, but it had not yet been realized:

"Now all the trees of the field were not yet on the earth, & the vegetation had not sprouted, for Hashem had not sent the rain, nor was there Man to work the soil." (2:5)

The missing agricultural ingredient was humanity: Only when man came to understand that nothing would grow without rain - & rain would not fall until man prayed for it! - & that the crops would not flourish without man’s effort to nurture & grow them, did the earth finally begin to bloom & blossom. Adam - whose name actually means "soil" – was the engine for the land to yield its amazing bounty & sustain the world for evermore.

I suggest that this is why the word, "V’hibar’am – when they were created," that introduces this topic, is spelled with an unusually small "Hay." The letter Hay, of course, stands for Hashem; I think the Torah is hinting to us that Hashem’s role is somewhat diminished - by design - in that He will not do all the work by Himself – Man must also be an integral part of this effort by both planting & praying.

Of course, this lesson is not restricted to agriculture. In each & every field, we humans must perceive what is missing, what is needed, & then reach out to Hashem to help us perfect that part of the puzzle.

One of the many miracles of modern Israel is our high-tech industry, where we do precisely this. We identify innumerable areas where life can be improved – from medicine to micro-chips to motoring - & then we invent products that solve the problem. We have learned Adam’s lesson well & used our intelligence & initiative to make this world infinitely better than we found it.

And you can "Bet" we’ll make it even BETter tomorrow!
Rabbi Stewart Weiss
Was ordained at the Hebrew Theological College in Skokie, Illinois, and led congregations in Chicago and Dallas prior to making Aliyah in 1992. He directs the Jewish Outreach Center in Ra'anana, helping to facilitate the spiritual absorption of new olim.
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