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Parashat Bereishit

by Rabbi Yitzchok Luria

Apples from the Orchard

  

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Creation – Hidden and Revealed

In the beginning, G-d created the heavens and the earth.
This is the first verse of the Torah. It begins with the letter beit, the second letter of the alphabet, rather than with the letter alef, the first letter of the alphabet, which would seem more appropriate. The mystical significance of this is as follows:

Likutei Torah, Parashat Bereishit
The Torah does not here speak about the world of Atzilut, but rather, about the world of Beriah. The Torah in general is therefore called “the Torah of Beriah.” Therefore the Torah begins with the letter beit, for the alef (which is the first letter of the alphabet) alludes to Atzilut, which is the first world and which begins with the letter alef, while the letter beit (which is the second letter) alludes to Beriah, which is both the second world and begins with the letter beit. The verb in this verse, “to create,” refers to the second of the four worlds—Atzilut (“emanation”), Beriah (“creation”), Yetzirah (“formation”), and Asiyah (“action”). This fact puts us squarely in the world of Beriah; in the words of our sages, “all is according to the beginning.” This is also alluded to by the first letter of the Torah. This letter, beit, refers to the world of Beriah both because its numerical value is 2 and because it is the initial of the word Beriah.

It is also known that “Ima nests in the world of the chariot.” This is another reason why the Torah begins with the letter beit, for beit is the first letter of binah.

It is stated in the Zohar that Abba nests in the world of Atzilut, Ima in the world of the chariot, Z’eir Anpin in Yetzirah, and Nukva d’Zeir Anpin in Asiyah. Beriah is called here “the world of the chariot” because the Divine chariot that figures in the vision of Ezekiel is identified with this world. The partzufim referred to here are the partzufim of Atzilut, meaning that Abba of Atzilut nests in Atzilut, while Ima of Atzilut descends and rests in Beriah, and so forth. All this simply means that although each world possesses its own array of ten sefirot (in the form of their respective partzufim), each world is nonetheless pervaded by an overall consciousness that is an expression of one of the partzufim of Atzilut. Abba is the partzuf of chochmah, which is the consciousness
of bitul (“self-nullification”); a person experiencing a flash of insight is not aware of himself but is rather absorbed totally in the experience of the revelation. This, overall, is the general consciousness of the world of Atzilut; the revelation of G-d in this world is so great that it leaves absolutely no room for self-awareness. Ima is the partzuf of binah, which is a consciousness of self-awareness. A person involved in understanding the implications, applications, and ramifications of an insight he has received is very aware of himself and the way he perceives the world; it is precisely this selfawareness that he uses to evaluate the effect of his insight. This self-awareness is what distinguishes the world of Beriah from the world of Atzilut. In Beriah, for the first time, there is such a thing as self-awareness or self-consciousness; the beings that exist in this world are aware of themselves as
entities distinct from G-d. The same paradigm applies to Z’eir Anpin with regard to Yetzirah and Nukva d’Zeir Anpin with regard to Asiyah.

This is why the world was created in Tishrei, which is an expression of the idea contained in the verse “His left hand is under my head.” For Abba is always associated with the right side, and Ima the left. The letters of the word for “in the beginning” may thus be rearranged to spell “on the first of Tishrei.” “In the beginning,” bereishit: beit-reish-alef-shin-yud-tav. “On the first of Tishrei,” be-alef Tishrei: beit-alef tav-shin-reish-yud. Although the world was created on the 25th of Elul, the crown of creation, man, was created on the sixth day, the 1st of Tishrei. The whole six-day creative process may thus be viewed as a preparation for what was to happen on the 1st of Tishrei, and therefore the world may be spoken of as having been truly or fully created in Tishrei. Tishrei is the beginning of the cold half of the year, in contrast to Nisan, which is the beginning of the warm half of the year. The holidays of Tishrei emphasize human effort: to crown G-d king (Rosh Hashanah); to achieve atonement for man’s sins (Yom Kippur); to rejoice in G-d’s protection, to achieve joy in His service, and unity in His people (Sukot); and to elicit Divine revelation through the study of the Torah (Shemini AtzeretSimchat Torah). In contrast, the holiday of Nisan—Pesach—emphasizes G-d’s initiative in taking us out of bondage. Thus, the cold half of the year (which we have to “warm up” on our own) is characterized by human effort ascending heavenward, while the warm half of the year is characterized by G-d “taking over” and our simply being open and receptive to His leadership. This dynamic in our relationship with G-d is alluded to in the verse, “His left hand is under my
head, and His right hand will embrace me.” The left hand signifies gevurah, the Divine attribute of judgment and justice, while the right hand signifies chesed, the Divine attribute of loving-kindness.


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