Lag B'Omer 5779
Shabbos Bereishis 5777 - Summary by Chuna Silverman
It is the new beginning of placing a foundation stone and building an edifice. When the foundation stone is strong, you have a strong building. What is the stone we are placing and the building we’re building? A Jewish home.
Usually something that is built can be destroyed. But The Torah says that “in the Beginning, Gd created” Gd making something negates any possibility of the item being destroyed. Hashem created what? A world of Jewish homes.
It's Mine, Really
The parsha says that we are to “fill the Earth and conquer it.” In truth, we each own the entire world. The first Mishna in Baba Metzia says “two enter holding a tallis enter both claiming all of it”. They are each mandated to swear that they don’t own less than half of the garment and then the value is split between the two of them. What is this oath saying exactly? It is not that the oath gives them rights to the garment. The garment, and everything in the world, has been given to man from Gd. The oath just shows that each person really thinks it belongs to him. This is enough to possess it. If you really think a certain part of the world is yours, then it’s yours. Go serve the Creator with it.
Gd created many things in the first five and a half days of Creation. The whole world was there, except man. If you went back then and looked at the world without man, would you be impressed to say, “Wow Hashem, this is some amazing world!” Man is the Creation. His presence is what makes the world worth creating because he brings the Creator into the world. We are invited here by Gd to do that. Gd gives us a right to be here and interact, build and own the world.
The world is only 6000 miles wide and yet it can accommodate any and everything. There was a time where only millions of people populated the world and there was concern that the resources of the world were going to run out. They made a mockery of themselves. There is no limit to what the world can produce. In fact, currently, half the Earth’s food is thrown into the ocean to control the prices because there is way more food than the population needs. Daniel then pointed out that there are many starving people. Rabbi answered that ‘yes’ that’s true and it is the responsibility of administrators to get the food to the needy people and added that The Rebbe spoke about this many times. But our machinations are not the point. Gd says that “I have Gdliness enough for everybody.” Gd’s heart, so to speak, has place in it for whoever enters the world.
When you are invited into someone’s house and you sit down, do you have a right to sit down? Does someone else have the right to come over to you and say, “Hey, why are you sitting in that chair?!” No, because you are a welcome guest, and the host’s chair is given to you to sit in. No one can challenge that right. As well, you aren’t going to start throwing chairs of the host around, but not because you respect the chair, but because you respect the host. (chuna’s note: I recently hurt a cat during a move. I felt bad. But I realize that if I understand that it’s not about the cat, but about Gd’s command to not hurt animals, it accurately lifts the experience from an emotional one to an intellectual one.)
Rabbi: Who says “bien venue?”
Daniel: The Frenchees.
Rabbi: The host.
When someone is invited to a wedding, there are two ways to give your guests food. A buffet or a waiter serving. Which is more welcoming? The waiter is slower to deliver (and perhaps you get less food) but the serving gives a much more welcoming atmosphere. You feel much more like an invited guest.
When you go into a home, what impresses- the table cloth, or the host? The guest doesn’t get impressed by the tablecloth upon entering. We all relate to this. And we have to see the world and our being here in the same way. Gd is inviting us to be here. We happily agree to acknowledge our host.
Yona: So we are saying that the world is a reshus hayachid (private space) and not a reshus harabim (public space)?
Rabbi: Indeed, it is a reshus hayachid, Gd’s private space, but it is a reshus hayachid that can provide for the rabim. Anyone can find their place here. (Chuna’s note: Don’t imagine the world as you would a finite home. It is Gd’s infinite home.)
Man's Greatness and Limit
When Adam was created he was given a job of naming the animals. Naming means to see the essence of a thing with chochma and call it out. And Adam was able to do that. Afterwards, Adam realized that he had no partner, no match, including the monkey by the way, nothing enticed him. This is a supreme ability of man. But with all of what he was able to do, there were some things that Gd did not leave up to man to name. Day is one of them. This shows us that there is a limit to our chochma, our insight and our ability. (And we accept this too).
The scientists say that the sun’s heat is more important than its light. That seeing is an inadvertent byproduct of the heat. But what is the most valued sense of man? To see! We don’t subscribe to this chaos perspective of scientific thought. Everything is created. That means there is intent. And we are to live with this. The sun rises and sets, the moon and stars come out; this is all with the purpose of us serving the Creator. We look at the world not as a haphazard chance event. We see the world as the stage that Gd has given us to participate in with Hm.
Jewish homes are of our prime interest. This is where we are anchored. We go back and put all our energies into creating a peaceful and vibrant home. In the past Soviet Union, Jewish education was a criminal offense. If you study a little about the Greeks, or the Romans, you see that the Russians were more vicious than any previous enemy we had. And so it took mesiras nefesh to educate your children. For the boys, this was done diligently. Underground classes were common for the boys’ education. They needed to know how to learn and daven. But for the girls, their obligation to daven and learn was less so and as such, not as much effort was concentrated on their education. As a result, many girls were illiterate.
Nevertheless, the role of the Jewish mother was extremely valued. The Jewish mother when coming over to America…she would encourage the husband to learn and farbreng. Often at a farbrengen, the women would send to the table another kugel, another salad, another… because she wanted the farbrengen to continue. This is the spirit that thrives in a Jewish home and sustains the family. We have to know this. Sometimes our classes or farbrengens run late- like . And so you’re late coming home. But it’s because you’re in shul davening and learning, not somewhere wasting your time. The Jewish woman understands that type of being late and in the family wouldn't even consider making Kiddush without the Tati home. They will wait because it's not just a bracha on a cup of wine. That they can do without the Tati. It's Kiddush and the Tati's presence after learning brings the sanctity of Shabbos. and the Mommy is our partner in this. Her words of encouragement: "Gezunta heit!" Keep learning, and then bring that spirit back to the home!" It’s our privilege and responsibility to bring that spirit back. (Yes, this means everyone needs to pay attention.)
Rabbi encourages couples to learn together. Whatever level the couple is holding at, there is something they are able to learn and we really need to make that time. In the past, there would be a chosid who would read Yiddish stories out of Tzurena Re'ena, and the women would just sit and listen. This is what they soaked up. Now, maybe chitas is too hard to learn together, but there is something, a midrash, stories of tzaddikim…something. Build your home by bringing the Heaven, the inspiration, the chochma, into the Earth, into our actions and welcome Hashem in.