Pearls of Rashi – Parshas Bereishis

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In this week’s Parshah we begin reading and studying the Torah once again. It begins with the famous words[1] “In the beginning of God’s creation of the heavens and the earth.” Rashi cites the words “In the beginning,” and writes the following. “Rabbi Yitzchok said, “(it would seem that) the Torah should have begun from[2] ‘This month is to you the first month,’ which is the first commandment that the Jews were commanded. Why did the Torah begin with ‘In the beginning?’ Because of (the verse)[3] ‘The strength of His works He told His people, to give them the inheritance of the nations.’ If the nations of the world tell the Jews that ‘you are robbers, for you conquered by force the lands of the seven nations (of Canaan),’ they will reply, ‘The entire earth belongs to the Holy One, blessed be He; He created it and gave it to whomever He saw fit. When He wished, He gave it to them, and when He wished, He took it away from them and gave it to us.’”

We need to understand what sort of claim this is. Why should the conquest of the Land of Canaan be considered robbery? Granted, stealing is prohibited to all of the nations of the world. Nevertheless, we do not find any nation being punished for conquering land from another. The claim seems to lack any validity.

The explanation is that transferring an object from one person (or nation) to another does not change the essence of the object. This is true in whatever manner the transfer took place; whether it was sold, inherited, given as a gift, conquered, etc. The original owners can always take it back.

The one exception to this is the conquest of the Land of Israel. Once the Nation of Israel conquered this land, there was a change in its essence. It became the Holy Land, the land of Israel for the Nation of Israel. This is true even during the exile; when “we were exiled from our land[4].” It still remains “our land,” which can never truly be taken from us. We prevented them from ever being able to take the land back. This is the rationale behind the claim of the nations of the world.

Our commencing the Torah should mark the beginning of a blessed year. May we merit being in our land with Moshiach Now!

Rabbi Shmuel Mendelsohn

Adapted from Likkutei Sichos Volume 5, Page 2

Mr. Sholom Moshe Hacohen
ben Reb Shlomo Meir Hacohen ע”ה Cohen
Passed away Shabbos Parshas Beshalach, 13 Shevat, 5779
May His Soul be bound in the Eternal Bond of Life
* * *
לעילוי נשמת
ר’ שלום משה הכהן בן ר’ שלמה מאיר הכהן ע”ה כהן
נפטר ש”ק פ’ בשלח, י”ג שבט, ה’תשע”ט
ת. נ. צ. ב. ה.
יו”ל ע”י חתנו ובתו שיחיו
הרה”ת ר’ שמואל ורבקה שי’ מענדלסאהן

[1]. Parshas Bereishis, Bereishis 1:1.

[2]. Parshas Bo, Shemos 12:2.

[3]. Tehillim 111:6.

[4]. Liturgy for Pilgrimage Festivals.

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