Weekly Reading Insights:
Simchat Torah/Shemini Atzeret 5783

Shabbat Bereishit 5783


Overview of the Torah Reading

To be read on Simchat Torah/Shemini Atzeret (in Israel) of 22 Tishrei 5783 /October 17

Torah Reading: Deut. 33:1-34:12; Num. 29:35-30:1; Gen.1:1-2:3
Haftorah: First Chapter in Joshua


Shabbat Bereishit 27 Tishrei 5783/October 22

Torah: Genesis 1:1-6:8; Haftorah: Isaiah. 42:5-43:10 (begins with reference to Creation)

Shabbat Mevorchim
- Blessing the New Month

Bereishit is the 1st Reading out of 12 in Genesis and it contains 7235 letters, in 1931 words, in 146 verses

The Torah opens with G-d's creation of the world in six days - plus Shabbos. G-d planted a garden in Eden, with the Tree of Life in the middle, and the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. G-d told Adam that he may eat from every tree except for the Tree of Knowledge. The serpent persuaded Eve to eat from the tree, and she gave some of its fruit to Adam. G-d punished each of the three, then clothed Adam and Eve, and banished them from Eden. Eve gave birth to Cain and Abel. Cain killed Abel, and subsequently Eve gave birth to Seth. The Torah then lists the ten generations from Adam to Noah. When Noah was 500 years old, he fathered Shem, Ham and Yapheth. G-d then decided that man should live only to 120. G-d saw that the world was evil, and decided to obliterate it, except for Noah and his family.


An essay from Rabbi Shaul Yosef Leiter, director of Ascent

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The Jewish people are towards the end of 7 weeks of intense spiritual immersion. We are after Rosh Hashanna, Yom Kippur, and towards the end of Sukkot and close to Simchat Torah. After all this what else can be said or done? What else does G-d expect from us?

The Chabad Rebbes said there is one more level, the remaining divine opening, another opportunity for all the people who rose above their limitations and a last chance for all those who were asleep till now (and everyone in-between…). The Rebbes taught, "How a person behaves on Shabbos B'reishis is how the whole year will go." Maaseh - action-simple doing of Gd's work in this world -is everything and the ultimate indicator. What a person DOES during the 25 and a fraction hours of this Shabbos will be the blueprint for his coming year.

Is there the one most important message to take with us into this crucial Shabbos? I can not say. I discovered one message that resonates
One of the most recognizable verses in the entire Torah are the first verses we say each Friday night during Kiddush. "And G-d completed the heavens and the earth and all of their hosts. And G-d completed on the seventh day all of the work that He had done. And G-d rested…"

Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai taught (Talmud Tractate Shabbos 77b), a flesh and blood person who does not know the difference between day to day and minute to minute has to add time on to Shabbos, taking from the mundane and making it holy (as we do each week by starting the Shabbos early when we light candles at least 18 minutes before sundown) as a protection against desecrating the Shabbos. Not so for G-d who as the Creator, know the difference between day and day and minute and minute. G-d can continue until a hairs breadth before Shabbos so that it even appears that He actually finished His work on Shabbos. This is what the verse means, "and Gd completed on the 7th day all the work that He had done…".

There is something hard to understand here. Why did the Almighty do His work in such a way that it appeared that He finished on Shabbos?

Even though undoubtable G-d knows the difference between each day and each minute, and there most certainly was no work done on Shabbos, still G-d could have completed his work a measurable time before Shabbos began and provided his people with a good example of how we should and can protect the Shabbos. Why did He specifically complete His work at the very last instant of Friday so it appears that He actually completed it on Shabbos?

Because there is an incredible lesson to be learned between man and G-d that is pertinent all the time but especially on the very first Shabbos of the Torah cycle.

The Talmud teaches (same source as above), G-d did not create anything in His world without a purpose. Every single thing and even every single moment that G-d created, even something small or a very small amount of time has a purpose and a goal for which G-d created it. Therefore, even if a person learned Torah with the best intentions for 23 hours and 59 minutes and he has just one more minute to learn, G-d forbid, he should not waste the last minute because that minute too has its purpose and goal for which purpose G-d created it. And how sad it would be to take a part of G-d's creation, even this seemingly insignificant bit of created time and waste it.

And this was the reason and the lesson that the Holy One Blessed Be He rescued this infinitesimally small moment just before Shabbos to finish His work, to teach us how each and every tiny moment we have is so very precious and has to be rescued in its entirety. And similarly, when we find a spare moment we should also use it out to the best of our ability and make the world a better place, a dwelling place for the Almighty. (Likutes Sichot vol. 5, page 33)

A community activist from Berlin visited the Lubavitcher Rebbe for Simchat Torah. As the Rebbe was dancing with the Torah scroll, the Rebbe turned to him and said, "See to it that Berlin becomes a place filled with the Chassidic warmth!"

"Amen" he replied enthusiastically
The Rebbe continued circling the bimah. To the man's astonishment, as the Rebbe passed him again, smiled and demanded, "Nu, what have you done to implement our recent discussion?"

The next morning, on his way to services, the Rebbe again spotted the individual and said, "At this point an entire night has gone by! So tell me, what have you accomplished so far?" (From Seeds of Wisdom vol. 2 page 68)

May Gd help us to use every minute of Shabbos in the best possible way
Shabbat Shalom and may it be a shana tova, Shaul Leiter

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For last year's essay by Rabbi Leiter on this week's Reading, see the archive.


Specifically, for an overview of the recommended articles in the columns:
Holy Zohar, Holy Ari, Mystic Classics, Chasidic Masters, Contemporary Kabbalists, and more,

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one sample:
Contemporary Kabbalists

A Crown of Supernal Joy

From the teachings of the Lubavitcher Rebbe; adapted by Yehoshua Metzinger

The main concept of Simchat Torah is simcha, or joy, as is indicated by the name of the holiday. It is from this special day that we derive all our happiness for the entire year, as it is on this day that the Jewish People brings down a higher aspect of Torah within the Torah itself, a joy which crowns the Torah from the aspect of keter.

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