Parshat Bereishit By: Rabbi Moshe Goodman, Kollel Ohr Shlomo, Hebron בס”ד
לשכנו תדרשו Inviting the Holy Presence in Our Holy Land
Happy are You Israel, Who is Like You!
On the culmination of Pesah we recite in the Song of the Sea, “Who is Like You among celestials O Hashem,” and at the culmination of Sukkot (Simhat Torah) we say “Happy are You Israel, Who is Like You!” Just as there is no power besides Hashem so too there is no People like Israel.
In a relationship between husband and wife we also see the term that a husband should make his wife happy for the first year of marriage. Similarly, all the three joyous festivals are based on miracles that occurred on the first year of Israel’s Exodus from Egypt, considered the event of Israel’s “betrothal” to Hashem (see Yirmiyahu ch. 2). Therefore, we can say that just as Hashem and Israel are likened to husband and wife in Shir Hashirim so too it is so natural that the fore-mentioned common exclamations of endearment mentioned both in the case of Israel towards and Hashem towards Israel, are both mentioned at the joyous festivals of Pesah and Sukkot (Simhat Torah).
This happiness and unity between Hashem and Israel is also the foundation of creation – “breshit” = “bara [created] sheet [foundation – see Tehilim 11, 3].” “Sheet” in Aramaic means six – “shesh”, which are the same letters as joy – “sas,” the joy between Hashem and Israel we just mentioned. Indeed, our Sages explain “bereshit” to mean for the sake of “reshit” which is Israel as it says “holy is Israel to Hashem the first [reshit] of His produce” (Jer. 2). Beautifully, Hebron too means unity and is also the “reshit” – the origin and beginning of all Jewish settlement in the Holy Land, the Land of Joy where the husband, Israel, and the wife, the Land of Israel (as explained at length in previous issues) are integrally one.
Real Stories from the Holy Land
Many years ago in the Synagogue of Avraham Avinu there were two aronei kodesh, one for sifrei Torah befitting to be read in the Service and the second housed old sifrei Torah that were invalidated for reading. Once, a guest, with a distinct countenance befitting a Torah scholar, arrived at the Synagogue of Avraham Avinu in Hebron. When this guest was honored to take out the sefer Torah, instead of taking the scroll from the ark of valid scrolls he, with a good deal of self-confidence, went directly to take the scroll from the old invalid scrolls. The rabbi told the guest that they cannot read from that scroll, since the scroll was invalid. Nevertheless, the guest insisted that, in order not to shame the Torah scroll and return it to the ark directly they should at least first do hakafot with it, customary on Simhat Torah, even though it was not Simhat Torah that Shabbat the guest was present. The community began to object, but the rabbi calmed them saying that perhaps the guest is right and they should do hakafot with the Torah scroll that Shabbat. And so they did, and the community danced with the Torah scroll singing “defeat our enemies etc.” (Tehilim 35, 1) After the prayers of Shabbat the community searched for the guest, but they found no one, for he had disappeared. The next day, on Sunday, it was known to the Jews that yesterday a mob had prepared a massacre on the Jews in the Avraham Avinu Synagogue, but when they suddenly saw the Jews singing and dancing in the hakafot thay made that Shabbat they were suddenly seized in great fear and they returned on their footsteps. The rumor passed in Hebron that that guest was no other than one of the Patriarchs… and in memory of the miracle the community made hakafot on that Shabbat every year.
Sefer Hebron p. 322