Torah Weekly

For the week ending 9 October 2004 / 24 Tishri 5765

Parshat Bereishet

by Rabbi Yaakov Asher Sinclair -
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In the beginning, Hashem creates the entire universe, including time itself, out of nothingness. This process of creation continues for six days. On the seventh day, Hashem rests, bringing into existence the spiritual universe of Shabbos, which returns to us every seven days. Adam and Chava - the Human pair - are placed in the Garden of Eden. Chava is enticed by the serpent to eat from the forbidden fruit of the "Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil," and in turn gives the fruit to Adam. By absorbing "sin," Adam and Chava render themselves incapable of remaining in the spiritual paradise of Eden and are banished. Death and hard work (both physical and spiritual) now enter the world, together with pain in childbirth. Now begins the struggle to correct the sin of Adam and Chava, which will be the main subject of world history. Cain and Hevel, the first two children of Adam and Chava, bring offerings to Hashem. Hevel gives the finest of his flock, and his offering is accepted, but Cain gives inferior produce and his offering is rejected. In the ensuing quarrel, Cain kills Hevel and is condemned to wander the earth. The Torah traces the genealogy of the other children of Adam and Chava, and the descendants of Cain until the birth of Noach. After the death of Sheis, Mankind descends into evil, and Hashem decides that He will blot out Man in a flood which will deluge the world. However, one man, Noach, finds favor with Hashem.


The Sun And The Moon

And G-d made two great luminaries (1:16)

You could hardly find two objects that are more different than the Sun and the Moon.

The Sun is the most prominent feature of our solar system, containing approximately 98% of the solar system's total mass. One hundred and nine Earths would be required to fit across the Sun's disk, and its interior could hold over 1.3 million Earths. The Sun's outer visible layer has a temperature of 11,000 F (6,000 C). This layer has a mottled appearance due to the turbulent eruptions of energy at the surface.

Solar energy is created deep within the core of the Sun. Here, the temperature (27,000,000 F; 15,000,000 C) and pressure (340 billion times Earth's air pressure at sea level) are so intense that nuclear reactions take place. Every second, 700 million tons of hydrogen are converted into helium by nuclear fusion. In the process five million tons of energy are released.

The Moon is the sole satellite of the planet Earth. It is an inert body 238,857miles from the Earth. Its diameter is 2,160 miles. Both the rotation of the Moon and its revolution around the Earth takes approximately 29 days, 12 hours, and 43 minutes. This synchronous rotation is caused by an asymmetrical distribution of mass in the Moon, which has allowed Earth's gravity to keep one lunar hemisphere permanently turned toward Earth.

The Moon has a crust 37 miles thick at the center of the near side. If this crust were uniform over the Moon, it would constitute about 10% of the Moon's volume. It has a maximum surface temperature of 123 C, and a minimum surface temperature of -233 C.

Almost the only thing that the Sun and the Moon have in common is that they are both roughly spherical celestial bodies belonging to our solar system.

However, there is another similarity that is rather strange. It's everyday knowledge, but when you think about it, there's no ostensible reason why it should be so.

Take a piece of cardboard and make it big enough that if you were to hold it up to the Sun - the Sun would be obscured. Now with that same piece of cardboard, hold it up to the full Moon. That same piece of cardboard will cover the Moon and the Sun.

In other words, from our perspective the Moon and the Sun are almost identical in size.

Isn't that strange? That of all the places our planet could be located in space, we happen to be exactly where the Moon and the Sun look the same size to us.

In the Talmud (Chullin 60b), Rabbi Shimon ben Pazi poses a contradiction in a verse in this weeks Torah portion: It says both that"G-d made two great orbs of light, and "the great orb of light and the small orb. (1:16) How can it be that first there are two great orbs of light and then only one?

At the dawn of Creation, G-d created the Sun and the Moon of equal size and brightness. Said the Moon before the Holy One Blessed be He: "Master of the World, is it possible for two kings to use one crown?" G-d said, "Go and diminish yourself."

Those who seek honor, like the Moon, are brought low, while those who bear insult in silence, like the Sun, will be rewarded. However, because the Moon accepted the verdict without complaint, G-d added the stars to the nightscape to give the Moon a retinue of light.

When we look up to the sky, the Moon and the Sun look the same size to us. We know that one is millions of times the size of the other. But they look the same size. Isnt that strange that we, the dwellers on this planet, are standing in a place in space where these two totally dissimilar orbs appear the same size?

When we look up at this celestial anomaly, we are looking at a cosmic hint. A hint to a time that was. A hint to a time to come when the lacking and the blemish of the Moon will be filled; when it will be restored to its former glory and the radiance of the Almighty will fill the world as it did in the six days of Creation.


  • Talmud Chullin 60b
  • Midrash Rabba
  • Rabbi Reuven Subar
  • Calvin J. Hamilton

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