Insights on the Torah reading: Breishit

G-d created beginnings.

Rabbi Dr. Raymond Apple,

 Raymond Apple
Raymond Apple


We never finish a mitzvah without starting on the next one.

We have hardly completed Yom Kippur when we begin the building of the sukkah.

When we end the Torah readings we start again with B’reshit.

Though only a year has passed since last time we always find something new in the ancient text. The Vilna Ga’on said that he never failed to find a “chiddush” in the familiar words.

In our case let us look at a well known passage from B’reshit – “veru’ach E-lokim merachefet al p’nei hamayim”, usually rendered, “and the spirit of God hovered over the surface of the waters”.

The Bible has no superlatives, so if it wants to say something is immensely great it says it is big even in God’s terms. Jonah says that Nineveh was “a great city unto the Lord”, indicating that even God thought it was great.

So “the spirit (or wind) of God” is “a mighty wind”, one that even God notices.


Two types of interpretation address the beginning of the Bible – the prosaic and the poetic.

Amongst the poetical interpretations, d’rash, one can say that “B’reshit bara E-lokim” means “God created 'B’reshit' (the beginning).”

The sages say that God created many other worlds first but was not satisfied with any of them. Eventually He created this world and decided to let it continue in existence.

He began His real work of Creation with this world. The other attempts were defective and were not allowed to continue.

What was so good about this world? One can’t be certain, but the big difference appears to be that the earlier worlds did not contain a human race whereas ours did.

What won God’s approval was His making of Man.

What quality did Man have that Creation swung in his favour? He was certainly not a perfect being, but he was perfectible. Making something of himself was man’s privilege.

There would be rough times when God would regret creating man, but God always decided to let man live and improve himself. It would take time. But time is relative.

When the Psalmist says, “A thousand years in Your sight as are like yesterday” (Psalm 90:4), it indicates that what we think takes millions of years is only like a second in God’s terms.