Genesis

Genesis

with commentary by Rabbi Tuly Weisz

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Introduction

The book of Genesis, Sefer Bereishit, is the first of the Five Books of Moses.  Bereishit begins with a detailed description of the creation of the world.  It continues with a brief history of the generations from Adam until Abraham, and then focuses on the lives of the Jewish patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, culminating with the Joseph story and the descent of the family of Jacob to Egypt.

 

Rabbi Shlomo Yitzchaki, the famed medieval commentator known by his acronym Rashi, asks a compelling question.  If the Torah is essentially a book of law, why did God choose to start it with the stories of creation?  Would it not have made more sense to begin with the first law commanded to the Jewish people?  Quoting the verse from Psalms 111:6, Rashi responds “The strength of His works He related to His people, to give them the inheritance of the nations.”  He explains that the Lord began His Torah with Creation in order to give the people of Israel a response to anyone who accuses them of stealing the Land of Israel.  Since God is the creator of the world, it is His to give it to whomever he chooses.  Though He initially gave it to the seven nations of Canaan, when they were no longer worthy He chose to take it from them and give it to the Children of Israel.

 

This theme of choosing is present throughout the Book of Genesis.  Bereishit is the book of creation.  Most obviously, it describes the creation of the world, but beyond that it is about the creation of a people; the nation chosen by God to be his representatives in this world and to carry out His divine mission of being a light unto the nations.  In every generation in the Book of Genesis, there is a person or group of people that stands out from the rest in the areas of morality and recognition of God, that is chosen by God.  Once a person is chosen, the continuation of the Torah focuses on him and his offspring, often emphasizing their positive qualities.  Seth is the chosen son of Adam, Noah is chosen to survive his entire generation, and the Bible then focuses on the descendants of Noah’s son Shem.  Ultimately, God chooses Abraham, his son Isaac and Isaac’s son Jacob.  With Jacob, the choosing is complete and a nation is born.

 

As Rashi implies, the Torah is much more than a book of laws; it is the legacy of the Jewish people.  It tells of the creation of a nation, chosen by God to be His emissaries of kindness, justice, goodness and recognition of the one true Creator.  And, it starts with the creation of the world so that there would be no question that the Land of Israel belongs to them.  From the very beginning of the world, God intended for the People of Israel to do His holy work from the holy Land of Israel, and that from there their light would emanate.  May our study of Sefer Bereishit strengthen the goodness within each of us and our appreciation for the Land of Israel.

Rabbi Tuly Weisz

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About Rabbi Tuly Weisz

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Rabbi Naphtali “Tuly” Weisz attended Yeshiva University (BA), Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (Rabbinic Ordination) and the Benjamin Cardozo School of Law (JD), and served as the Rabbi of the Beth Jacob Congregation in Columbus, Ohio. Upon making Aliyah, Rabbi Weisz founded Israel365 and serves as the publisher of Breaking Israel News. He is also the general editor of The Israel Bible.

Email: [email protected]

Courses:
Genesis/Bereishit
Exodus/Shemot
Ruth/Rut
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Comments ( 20 )

The comments below do not necessarily reflect the beliefs and opinions of The Israel Bible™.

  • Thank you very much for your learning tool(Tanakh).
    But it is very difficult for me because my english level is very law.
    So I do study diligent.
    Shalom!

  • I have just downloaded the Israel Bible and am looking forward to doing studies through it. The Irony is is that I have just finished reading the Book of Genesis and started studying Altars, Sacrifices and Name changes that God did with the early Fathers.

  • I have several editions of Holy Bible! And I had bought a new Hebrew-English edition from Israel while my last visit. But this experience is entirely different, that getting a GREAT edition of Holy Bible at fingertips.

    Thank you so much for making me to read it everyday. And congratulations for your effort!

  • When I read the question posed by the Rabbi below, I had to pause and take a deep breath. Do we interpret the Scriptures from our modern perspective looking backward or within the historical context that they were written?

    "Rabbi Shlomo Yitzchaki, the famed medieval commentator known by his acronym Rashi, asks a compelling question. If the Torah is essentially a book of law, why did God choose to start it with the stories of creation? Would it not have made more sense to begin with the first law commanded to the Jewish people?"

    When the Torah was written, there were no Jewish people………Judaism simply isn't that old. Hmm….
    Baruch Hashem.

    • God did give Adam and Eve the only LAW they needed at the time. "Do not take of the tree of knowledge."
      Jesus also ask one commandment "Love they neighbor as thy self which covers all the Ten commandments"

  • "Since God is the creator of the world, it is His to give it to whomever he chooses. Though He initially gave it to the seven nations of Canaan, when they were no longer worthy He chose to take it from them and give it to the Children of Israel."
    *
    I agree with this statement with the exception of one small perception. Certainly, it's Elohim's right to give the land to whomever He chooses. Yet, saying He first gave it to the "seven nations of Canaan" gives the perception this was Hashem's "Plan A", When they didn't measure up to His standards, He went to "Plan B" and gave it to Israel. In my understanding of Torah, Elohim doesn't have back-up plans. I don't understand His reasoning because He doesn't always confide in me. However, I believe Torah teaches Avraham was "Plan A" from the beginning.
    *
    Also, there is this misconception that the total Land grant to Avraham was the little strip of land we know as Israel today. The actual Land grant is enormously greater–from the Nile to the Euphrates and everything in between.

    • Very true! In fact I was just reading within the past 2 days that God took the land away from the Canaanites because of their terrible sinfulness and that was why Hashem gave it to the 12 tribes of Israel. Even though I am not Jewish but Christian, it was reading the Tanach and seeing the relationship between G-d and His people Israel that I came to love all of Israel and Hashem Himself. Israel was so human and yet had such great souls as Moses and others and G-d was and is so loving and so patient, yet His patience had limits. Even so, He has never deserted Israel and never will, and this gives me hope that He will never desert me either. Baruch Hashem.

    • I don't think that HaShem has a plan A and plan B. He is the Creator of Heaven and earth. It is , in my opinion an example of Greek thinking. We Hebrew think concentric in a repeating mode. Would the Creator not have known that He should choose His people ? Showing HIS impartiality HE let other peoples have a try out. Then His people showed HE was in the right.

  • So grateful for Genesis. In todays world where atheist and evolutionist force their beliefs on us and our children it is nice to find communities of believers in the word of God. The earth is not millions or billions of years old. Everything we are taught of space and even dinosaurs is to contridict the Bible and create doubt. The same gimmick the serpent used to trick Eve. He got here to doubt the word of God. The world also tries to trick us that there are not real consequence for sin… You will not surely die? Oh thank you Lord for your beautiful word to guide us and lead us into all truth.

    • Yes, Genesis is so important as are all the scriptures. And Atheist and evolutionist do force their views on us and our children. I am 73 y/o and went to public schools. But evolution was taught as a Theory and not as a fact. I love the scientific method because of it's logic but evolution is neither logical nor even grossly possible. It is certainly a devilish tool that is an attempt to in effect say that there is no God!

  • We should never bend the word to fit with science. Gods thoughts and ways are so much higher than ours.

  • So right, science is constantly changing and correcting its hypothesis to fit new interpretations of their observations. God's Word is constant and the only absolute truth. Given enough time science will catch up. New truths are found almost daily through archeologists. The Bible was written to help us learn Who God is.

    • I respectfully disagree about the necessity of science catching up with Hashem if they are given enough time. That is because the human mind does not have even 1 billionth of the capability of God's mind. Also, the Atheist scientists keep lying about how things are. The idea of species changing into other species ( an amoeba eventually evolved into a chicken, a cow, a Giraffe, an elephant. and finally into a human; all by accident. This idea is so preposterous according to the laws of science that it has to be a conscious fiction perpetrated by Atheist scientists to try to prove that Hashem neither created the world nor all the species of life on Earth.

    • If you do a search on Bing for that book there are numbers of booksellers that have it for a reasonable price and there is also a website that you can read it or download it for free,

  • One of the things that I have thought about in Genesis is the so called Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Satan wanted Adam and Eve to eat of the fruit of that tree after God forbid it. Now we know that God is all goodness and only makes commandments because they are for our best interests. We also know that Satan is the Father of lies, hates God and hates all humans. It is Satan's desire that all souls go to hell. Because of that I think that the fruit of that tree does not give actual knowledge of good and evil but instead gives whoever eats the fruit of that tree the illusion that by thinking, humans can tell what is Good or evil and so not have to obey God's Commandments. Satan told Eve that she would be like the Gods knowing good and evil, but the fact is that the human mind can not tell what is good or evil because we can never know what all the consequences of an action are down through Eternity. We hear the same lie and the same illusion now all the time. "I don't have to obey that commandment. It makes no sense in modern times, maybe it was ok thousands of years ago but we should not have to obey it today."

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