Torah Weekly

For the week ending 10 October 2015 / 27 Tishri 5776

Parshat Bereishet

by Rabbi Yaakov Asher Sinclair -
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In the beginning, G-d creates the entire universe, including time itself, out of nothingness. This process of creation continues for six days. On the seventh day, G-d 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 G-d. 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 G-d decides that He will blot out man in a flood which will deluge the world. However, one man, Noach, finds favor with G-d.


Dressed In White

“…and that every product of the thoughts of his heart was but evil constantly” (6:5)

When I was growing up in London, you could go to one of two shuls. A major difference between them was that at one people drove to shul and parked around the block, and at the other, they drove to shul and parked in the forecourt.

At one shul they knew what was right but they just didn’t want to do it. At the other, they had changed the definition of “right.”

There are two ways a person can do an aveira (transgression). He can do something that he knows is wrong and have sufficient embarrassment about it to try and conceal it, or he can come out of the closet and proclaim that there was no reason to be in the closet in the first place.

One of the major casualties of our generation is embarrassment. Virtually nothing is a cause for embarrassment anymore because almost everything is okay.

The Talmud (Mo’ed Katan 17b) says that if someone has an overpowering desire to commit an immoral impropriety, he should first go to a place where no one knows him; he should garb himself in ‘plain-clothes’ by wearing black and should wrap his head in black.

Why, if he dresses in black, should he also drape his head in black?

To change your clothing is to prevent a desecration of Gd’s name by being easily identified as Jew; to drape your head in black is to remind yourself that what you’re about to do is terribly wrong. And if that is not sufficient to deter you, at least you should know that you cannot rewrite the rule book.

What’s wrong is wrong – you can’t dress it up in white.

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