This page presents insights by Rabbi Tuvia Bolton on the weekly Torah portion.
The latest article is posted here once a week. You can search the archive for past articles.
Parshat Bereshit (5767)
Shortly after receiving the Torah at Mount Sinai 3319 years ago Moses instituted that it be read publicly at least once a week in order that it not be forgotten or changed.
And this week, Thank G-d, we begin doing it for the 3319th time.
The Torah begins by telling us that In the beginning of Creation the….. 'Spirit of G-d was hovering on the waters'. (Gen 1:2)
And the Rabbis explain; this is the 'Spirit of the Moshiach (Messiah)' (see Ber. Rabba 2:4, Tik. Zohar #30, Baal HaTurim 1:2) .
What is this 'spirit of Moshiach?' And why is it such an important issue in the beginning of creation?
First a short preface:
There is no book in the world even vaguely similar to our Torah.
Even the 'bibles' of the other religious that have inspired millions, even billions…. are, after all, only weak reflections of the Torah. For several reasons:
1) The Torah was given publicly and personally to each Jew. Millions of them saw and heard G-d at Mount Sinai. While the other 'bibles' were only revealed to one or a select few who passed it on to the faithful.
That is why Jews have kept the Torah for thousands of years through impossible obstacles.
2) The Torah was given by G-d, the Creator of the Universe (spiritual as well as physical) while the other bibles came from spiritual forces or angels.
That is why every word and even letter of the Torah is Divine and precise while the other bibles contain only inspiring ideas.
3) The Torah is concerned solely with sanctifying life in this world (here will be built the third Temple and will occur the Raising of the Dead) while the other 'bibles' deal with the afterlife; going to heaven and avoiding hell.
That is why The Torah is the only book that tells us exactly when and how this world began.
Not only that, but the Torah contains the key solutions to most of man's problems, including the most important of all: Why are we here and how can we find true joy and meaning in life.
To understand all this, here is a story I heard recently from the accomplished educator, writer and translator Rabbi Eli Touger.
This story occurred some twenty years ago in New York as Mr. Fogel (fictitious name) a middle-aged Chabad Chassid was listening to a tape of one of the Lubavitcher Rebbe's speeches while driving home late one evening from work. He had heard this one particular one tens of times but for some reason he liked it.
But suddenly one sentence really struck him. It was as though the Rebbe was speaking directly to him. :
"As is know, the Baal Shem Tov said that a soul can come into this world for seventy, eighty years just to do a favor for someone, especially a fellow Jew."
Suddenly Mr. Fogel became lost in thought. 'Could it be that I could live my entire life and never fulfill my purpose! Could such a thing really happen? After all who knows the secret ways of G-d if not the Baal Shem Tov?'
He became serious. His eyes even began to fill with tears and he began to pray. 'Please, HaShem, guide me to do what I'm supposed to do, I don't want to miss my purpose!'
Deep in thought he began to imagine the hundreds (today there are thousands) of Chassidim all over the world going 'out of their ways' to wake up Jews. Nothing is more important… nothing! But what about him?!
When he came out of his reverie he realized that he was in a strange place and it took him a few seconds to figure out what happened. He had passed his turn-off, gotten off the expressway several stops too late and now was in a different district of Brooklyn.
He was looking for a place to make a U-turn when something caught his eye. To his right, at the side of the road was an older man standing before the open hood of a stalled car.
The street was unusually empty so Mr. Fogel slowed down, opened his right side window and had a better look. The fellow looked up at him and signaled. It didn't look suspicious so he pulled over and asked what was wrong.
"Ahh! What rotten luck! I can't figure it out." The fellow yelled out. "The thing just died on me! Now I'm really stuck!! A tow truck stopped about ten minutes ago but they wanted six hundred dollars to tow me home! Six hundred! And I only live fifteen minutes away!"
Mr. Fogel pulled his car even closer and the fellow continued.
"And I'm stalled in a no parking zone. Look at this! Even if I caught a taxi… if I leave the car here … they'll tow it away."
"Fogel pointed to a spot about fifty yards ahead and said."Just don't worry. G-d will help. Here, look over there! About a hundred feet away is a place you can park. See! I'll push you. Get in your car and I'll push you. Then you can take a taxi home."
"Thanks!" he yelled back as he walked to open the door to his car. "But I've been waiting here for a long time and not one taxi has passed… look! The road is deserted. But I guess you're right. Worrying doesn't help."
Mr. Fogel was totally convinced that this fellow was telling the truth. So after pushing him to the parking place and the fellow locked his car up, he offered to take him home. After all it was only a fifteen minute ride.
The old fellow couldn't stop thanking him. He got into Fogel's car and kept talking. "Wow! Thanks a million! I really appreciate this!! Now all we have to do, my wife and I that is, is order a cab." He looked at his watch, "Whew! It's really late! I hope we don't miss our plane. We're flying to Florida to visit our daughter and the plane is leaving in an hour."
"Listen" said Mr. Fogel "It's no problem. You know what. I'll take you to the airport, after all it's only a half hour drive and my wife won't worry. Just don't ask questions. As soon as we get to your house get your wife and suitcases and let's go! You have no time to waste."
The old fellow tried weakly to protest but realized that this Chassid was right, so in no time he and his wife were in the car and before they knew it were at the airport.
"I can't thank you enough" said the old man as he pulled his suitcase from the trunk. "Listen, you got to let me pay you! Here, do me a favor.. take a hundred dollars." He pulled a bill from his wallet. "Nu! It's the least I can do. Just take it!
But Fogel would have no part of it. "Sorry, my friend! First of all thank G-d I don't need the money. Second, it was a favor so I don't want the money. And third it was no big deal; the whole thing took less than an hour and I enjoyed it, so I don't even deserve the money."
But the old man insisted, even took another hundred out and kept pushing it at Fogel saying "Just take it. Nu! Don't argue. Just take it."
Until finally Mr. Fogel said. " Excuse me but you're Jewish, right?" the fellow shook his head yes. "So, listen, if you really want to repay me then, you know what? Put on Tefillin. Do you put on Tefillin? Do it every morning for a month."
The man shook his head no. In fact it was exactly what he did not want to hear. Tefillin?! No way!! I'm not doing no mitzvos! No MITVOS! Not me!"
"Alright, so then don't put on Tefillin." Fogel replied. "You were the one that wanted to pay. As far as I'm concerned you don't owe me anything but if you want to pay, this is what I want. Nu? What do you say? Just buy yourself a pair of Tefillin and put them on when you can… Okay?"
The old fellow looked at Fogel with foggy eyes for a second, shook his head reluctantly and said …"All right. I'll do it!"
Then he half-heartedly shook Fogel's hand, looked at his watch and ran to get a luggage cart.
As soon as he was far enough away, his wife approached Fogel with tears in her eyes, dabbed them with a small kerchief and said. "Thank you! G-d just sent you!"
She spoke in a low voice, keeping an eye on her husband to make sure he was involved with the cart but, although she tried to hide it, she was obviously very emotional, her eyes were red from crying.
"You don't know what you just did. It was a miracle! We are holocaust survivors. We met after the war, got married, moved here to New York and agreed that we wouldn't do anything Jewish. Nothing. We were mad at G-d, you know." She started crying again.
"But as we got older I began to yearn for the things from my mother's house.. you know, like lighting candles before Shabbat. But each time I mentioned it my husband said 'NO MITZVOT!! Our children got married, we are alone in the house but he still says 'No Mitzvos'!!'
"So, yesterday I felt so bad … that …. I did something I haven't done since the war…. I prayed.
"I begged G-d to send some miracle to change my husband's mind. And now you came …. You are a miracle!!
"I'm sure that this Shabbat we will have Candles."
This answers our question. The Moshiach will be a great leader; a king that will awaken the soul connection of all the Jews to the Torah. Something like what Mr. Fogel did to the old couple.
This soul connection is called the "Spirit of Moshiach" and it was there before the world was formed.
It is the spark of identity in every Jew that makes us realize that we are the 'sons', 'servants' and 'chosen ones' of G-d and it is the reason the world was created. (See the first Rashi Gen. 1:1: The world was created for the Torah and the Jews)
It's called 'Spirit of Moshiach' because only Moshiach will be able to arouse it completely. This was the job of the Baal Shem Tov and the Chassidic Rebbes after him.
Indeed, the Lubavitcher Rebbe said many times that each of the leaders of the Chabad Movement was the Moshiach of his generation as Mr. Forbes discovered; the Rebbe directed him to his purpose in life.
So this is the message of Bereshit: the spirit of Moshiach is in each of us. And soon, very soon, the King Moshiach will awaken it. The Temple will be rebuilt so all the Jews can do all the Commandments and all mankind will see that G-d is creating the Universe and His Torah is the only true way to serve Him with true Joy.
It's up to us to do everything we can, like Mr. Forbes in our story, to bring…
Copyright © 1999-2018 Rabbi Tuvia Bolton. All rights reserved. No unauthorized reproduction or copying of this material shall occur without prior permission.