Parsha Bereishit

October 14th 2023

29th of Tishri 5784

One Must Do Just the Will of Hashem

Rabbi David Chananya Pinto

When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was tempting to the sight and appealing to the understanding, she took of its fruit and did eat, and gave also to her husband with her, and he did eat(Bereishit 3:6).

It is virtually beyond belief that Chavah was persuaded to eat from the tree. She did not have an inclination towards evil. How could she have been swayed by the worthless words of the snake?

The snake persuaded the woman with the argument that if she ate from the tree, she would be able to distinguish between good and evil. It is written in the Midrash (Tanchumah, Metzorah 2) that the snake told her she could become like G–d and have the capability to create worlds. How is it possible that Chavah entertained the thought that she could, G–d forbid, compare herself to G–d? Surely there is no shred of truth to that prospect. Therfore, what possessed the snake to convince her of that?

The key to understanding this is, as the Zohar (Bereishit) says, that the snake is really Satan. This is why the numerical value of the word snake ( נחש ) is 358. If we add an additional 1 to represent the entire word, it equals 359. This is also the numerical value of the word Satan ( .(שטן

Satan does not initially convince us to transgress HaShem’s command. On the contrary, he persuades us to fulfill specific acts that on the surface seem to be for the sake of Heaven. Once he has gotten us in his clutches, he sends us snowballing down the steep hill towards the lowest hell. The snake convinced Chavah to eat from the tree with the logic that thereby she would be able to distinguish between good and evil. She would then discover how to attach herself firmly to good and distance herself from evil. By remaining distant from evil she would be able to attach unwaveringly to HaShem, cause Him limitless satisfaction and create celestial worlds in His honour.

Thus, though she did not possess an internal inclination towards evil, since she thought her act was for the sake of Heaven and would cause HaShem infinite satisfaction, she was able to err. Adam also was led into error in the same way. At first he did not want to listen to her, but when she told him that eating from the tree was L’shem Shamayim and through it he would be granted great wisdom to discern good from evil and create worlds for HaShem’s honor, then he listened to his wife and ate.

When HaShem asked Adam if he ate from the tree, Adam was so certain he had acted properly that he told HaShem he ate and would eat again. Adam considered what he had done to be a positive act and not a transgression as he had intended to bring honor to HaShem through his consumption. This is often the way of the Satan to persuade us that a transgression is a good deed and thus capture us in his net forever.

I once saw a person speaking lashon hara about his friend. Immediately, I showed him that what he was doing was forbidden. He replied it was permitted because he was doing it L’shem Shamayim.

Thereupon, I demonstrated to him that not only was it not L’shem Shamayim but it was from the wiles of the Yetzer Hara, convincing him that it was truly L’shem Shamayim. When he gave the issue more thought, he admitted I was correct, and he was in fact motivated by personal concerns. Once Adam and Chava were able to distinguish between good and evil, they would be able to guard themselves from evil and attach themselves to good. This would bring immeasurable gratification to HaShem. Therefore, what was so reprehensible about their behaviour?

However, HaShem is not interested in the creation of celestial worlds and sacrificial offerings that come about through the violation of HaShem’s rules. The most important thing to HaShem is that we do what we are told and not cleverly add to the instructions. The source of their mistake was that Adam and Chava thought HaShem commanded them just one mitzvah. They wanted to fulfill many mitzvot, which would be made possible by discerning good from evil.

Why were Adam and Chava not immediately punished with death when HaShem came to discuss their behaviour with them? Why were they only banished from Gan Eden? They were exiled from Gan Eden because they had nothing left to do in Gan Eden. There was nothing left there for them to guard. Instead Adam and Chava were sent to this world. Now they were able to tell good and evil apart and were properly prepared for this world, to do battle with the Yetzer Hara. They were not punished with death straightaway because they had no intention, G-d forbid, to rebel against HaShem with their actions. Rather, their intentions were solely L’shem Shamayim.

Unfortunately, instead of taking this lesson to heart and avoiding what appears to be a mitzvah on the surface but is indeed a serious prohibition, we claim that no sin is being committed and we continue to disregard HaShem’s word.


Based on the teachings of Moreinu v‘Rabbeinu Hagaon Hatzaddik Rabbi David Chananya Pinto, shlita

Honoring Parents

“Then HaShem formed man, dust of the ground and breathed into his countenance the breath of life, and so man became a living personality” (Bereishit 2:7).

As part of the process of creating man, HaShem gathered earth from everywhere in the world, explains Rashi, so that anywhere that man might die, the earth would be prepared to absorb man’s body into itself. It is clear from this that already before man was formed HaShem knew he would sin and subsequently die. Therefore, even before HaShem created man, he was combined in such a manner that the ground would be ready to receive him anywhere.

Our Sages, z”l, (Kiddushin 30b, Niddah 31a) declare that there are three partners in the existence of every individual: HaShem, father, and mother. The parents provide the physical ingredients and HaShem breathes the soul into him. If HaShem does not provide the soul component, a living child will not be born. Sometimes in fact, a baby is stillborn, because HaShem did not install it with a soul. Adam did not have three partners in his creation, for he had no parents. He was the personal creation of HaShem. He was the choicest of creation, for HaShem chose him to be created without any other partners.

Therefore, Adam had an extra obligation to obey HaShem, since his love for HaShem had to be three times as great as that of any other man. Nevertheless, it is proper and obligatory for us to honor our parents for they brought us to this world. Without their efforts, we would not be here.

We can thereby understand why we are ordered to honor our parents even after they have passed on (Kiddushin 31b). After the death of a parent, HaShem does not dissolve the partnership He has with the parents. If he would, by retrieving His contribution, the soul, the child would die too. However, since that child remains alive, it is obvious that the partnership is still alive and well. For this reason, despite the death of the parents, their contribution is still extant, and thus they are still deserving of honor.


Tidbits of faith and trust penned by Moreinu v‘Rabbeinu Hagaon Hatzaddik Rabbi David Chananya Pinto, shlita

Parking One’s Faith with Hashem

On one of my visits to New York, I stayed at the home of Mr. Yitzchak Rachmani, a precious Jew with a generous heart, who hosted me with great honor.

While I was there, I received a call from Dr. Speigel, of the community Yad Avraham in New York. Dr. Speigel has a reputation as a top heart surgeon.

Dr. Speigel and I go back a long way. I knew him as a Jew with simple faith in Hashem and His servants. He recognized the power of prayer of the tzaddikim of old, who could bring salvation to the world. Whenever Dr. Speigel was scheduled to perform a complicated or dangerous operation, he would first send the patient to me for a blessing for a successful surgery. He would say, “The Rav will provide his blessing, and I will do the operation. Together, we will, besiyata di’Shemaya, bring healing to the sick.”

Additionally, Dr. Speigel had once asked me for advice regarding the purchase of a specific apartment in Manhattan. The asking price was quite steep, and he did not know if he would be able to resell it. I encouraged him to buy it against his hesitations. He did so. Within a year, the section of town where this apartment was located was transformed into the most upper-class area of Manhattan. He made a nice profit selling it. This was in the merit of accepting the Torah’s opinion without questions.

Back to the phone call. In a worried tone of voice, Dr. Speigel asked for my advice. His elderly uncle, who was almost ninety years old, had left his home a few days earlier and had not been heard from since. The police were notified and they sent out a search party. But until now, they still did not have a clue as to his whereabouts.

At first, I wanted to tell Dr. Speigel that I, too, had no solution to this mystery. But through years of friendship with the good doctor, and knowing his firm faith in Hashem, I very much wanted to offer him some sort of help. I asked for Hashem to put the right words in my mouth.

I asked Dr. Speigel where his uncle had been headed the day he went missing. He replied that, to the best of his knowledge, he had headed toward the city’s hotel section. “Is there a park nearby?” I pressed.

Dr. Speigel understood my question differently. “Yes,” he replied, “there is the Park Hotel which contains a lovely garden near it.” I continued, “Does the hotel have any type of stream running beside it?” Dr. Speigel replied in the affirmative. I recommended that he tell the police to search in the area of this hotel and b’ezrat Hashem, his elderly uncle would be found. He would either be found in good health in the hotel itself, or dead in the nearby stream. But the fact that their doubts would be laid to rest was a major factor in allaying his fears.

With the help of the police, the search parties concentrated their efforts on the premises of the Park Hotel. Indeed, Dr. Speigel’s uncle was found, safe and sound, inside the hotel. I am certain that the simple faith of Dr. Speigel in Hashem’s unlimited powers stood him once more in good stead, meriting the safe recovery of his uncle.


 To Choose the Correct Path

 “Kayin went out from the Presence of HaShem” (Devarim 8:10).

Kayin went out in a humble manner, thinking he had fooled HaShem (Rashi).

One of the issues that our minds have trouble grasping is the matter of free choice. We can choose between good and evil, yet since HaShem foresees everything and knows in advance everything that is to occur, it would seem we are compelled to follow a certain predetermined plan of action that HaShem knows will happen.

Kayin said to HaShem, “I did not know I would kill Hevel. I do not have foreknowledge of events. But You did know. Am I the one that should have protected my brother? You should have protected him from calamity. If I indeed succeeded in killing him, this means You so decreed. Why complain to me?”

HaShem answered, “What did you do? The act is connected to you because My foreknowledge does not affect your choice.”

However, Kayin did not want to listen and accept HaShem’s explanation. He seemed to humble himself. But he left HaShem’s Presence. He rejected HaShem’s design for the world. He refused to submit to HaShem’s authority. This is obvious from the wording in the Torah, that Kayin left HaShem’s Presence. Since HaShem’s Presence fills the world, it is really impossible to leave HaShem’s Presence. Kayin continued his life with the decision that HaShem’s foreknowledge does run counter to human free choice and therefore, there cannot be reward and punishment.

The following chilling story was told by HaRav Moshe Chayim Lau, shlit”a:

A young girl who survived the Holocaust by the skin of her teeth, travelled to Paris after the War with the idea of divorcing herself from the Jewish nation, to go astray and nourish herself in strange fields. She thought, “I will marry a Goy. Only in this way will I manage to overcome and forget the painful memories of the horrors I experienced.”

She chillingly recalled the minute that lasted an eternity, when the Nazi officer noticed her righteous father, crowned with Tefillin, learning Torah. The wicked officer raised his pistol and murdered the holy Jew. Six years had already passed and she had not forgotten. She desperately wanted to forget. She wanted to run away from this people and live like everyone else, far, far away from the horrors.

Her father had a learning partner, also a righteous Rav, and he heard about this last remaining child of his friend. This daughter was his friend’s Kaddish. If she abandons her faith, his holy friend will have no remnant on earth.

The Rav travelled from Belgium to Paris and succeeded in finding out where the girl lived. He knocked on the door, again and again. He was about to give up when he heard some movement near the door. He said, “I travelled a whole day to come here, can I have at least a cup of cold water?” The door opened a crack and a cup of water was passed to him. He pushed the door slightly and entered. She did not want to listen but he intended to speak anyway. He saw that she had a cold, cynical expression on her face. Crying internally, he prayed,

“Master of the World, grant me the correct words. Grant me this kindness to convince her to desist from assimilating.”

He asked her, “Tell me, you lived through the Holocaust, you saw horrible atrocities. Who was the worst wicked devil you encountered?”

She replied, “The vicious Nazi officer who killed my father.”

The Rav continued, “And who was the holiest tzaddik?”

She replied, “Father. My father was the greatest tzaddik, so good ...”

The Rav cried out, “Is that possible? Are you going to help that vicious lowlife of a German Satan defeat your father? You are about to marry a Satan and, G–d forbid, you will produce little Satans. If you marry a Jew like your father, you will merit to have righteous and holy children like your father. Such a pity!

Today, she is a proud greatgrandmother with tens of upright grandchildren and great-grand children.


 The blessings of Rabbi Chaim Hakatan were renowned throughout Morocco. Amram Zenou’s mother relates that her father worked as a fisherman for his livelihood. There was a period of time when he could not catch any fish, and he had no income. In his intense grief he fell ill. Imbued with faith, his wife went to Rabbi Chaim to request his blessings for success in their livelihood. Rabbi Chaim asked her, “What does your husband do?” She answered, “He is a fisherman.”

Rabbi Chaim blessed her that within the week, her husband would succeed in catching more fish than he had ever caught in his life. This is exactly what happened. Precisely in the place that he began to fish, he managed to catch a large amount, while his fellow fishermen had no luck. In this way he became considerably wealthy.

R’ Yosef Asseraf told Moreinu v’Rabbeinu that he once traveled from the city of Aka to Mogador with eight camels laden with furs. As was his custom, he first went to visit Rabbi Chaim Hakatan to receive his blessings and guidance.

R’ Yosef deliberated how he would be able to sell the merchandise he had bought, since he had invested all his money in the furs, but there was no market for them.

The Rav advised him not to sell his merchandise immediately, but to rent a storage place for the furs. Only in another two months, should he begin to market his stock. Rabbi Chaim explained to the merchant that then the price of the fur would go up. If he would wait a while, he would be able to gain a larger profit.

R’ Yosef Asseraf did as Rav Chaim instructed and consequently gained an enormous profit from the sale of his furs.

In addition, Rabbi Chaim also blessed him that he and his descendants should continue enjoying wealth, which should not cease for generations to come.

This blessing was fulfilled, and until today, his sons and grandsons support many Torah institutions.


Her Kidney Kept Shabbos

 An exciting popular story has been told involving the Charedi community in Bnei Brak. A non-religious woman declared that in the merit of receiving a kidney, she began to keep Shabbat.

Rabbi Nachum Appel z”l passed away in Bnei Brak. During the week of shiva, a woman, unknown to the family, came to comfort the mourners and had an amazing story to tell.

“I came to comfort you all because I received a kidney from one of the members of your family. Because of the donation, I have begun to keep Shabbat.”

The woman told a story of a strange occurrence where every time she committed an act of chilul Shabbat, she began to feel sharp pains.

“I turned on the stove or did some other Shabbatrelated transgression and suddenly began to feel terrible pains. I did not understand what was happening to me. According to the doctors I consulted, the pain should have subsided after a short period of time. But on the contrary, the pains continued and they began only when I committed chilul Shabbat.

“I consulted other doctors but they did not find anything special. They were emphatic that there was no medical cause for my terrible pains. One day, it dawned on me that maybe the pains are connected to my acts of chilul Shabbat. The kidney was from someone who kept Shabbat and this was HaShem’s way of telling me I must keep the holy Shabbat too.”

The woman said that she began to keep Shabbat. Lo and behold, the pains ceased immediately. She explained that she came to relate the story to cause a strengthening of the holy Shabbat and to bring about a sanctification of G-d’s Holy Name.


 To Learn or Support Torah Scholars

“From the beginning HaShem created the heaven and the earth” (Bereishit 1:1).

The world was created for the Torah and for Yisrael that are both called “the beginning” (Rashi).

Rabbeinu HaOr HaChayim HaKadosh lays down a fundamental principle. If someone does not occupy himself in the study of Torah, or at least support Torah scholars, he is forbidden to derive benefit from this world. The world was created only for Torah learning. If he does not study Torah or help those who do study, he has no permission to derive benefit from this world.

Who Has Made Me in Accordance with His Will

“HaShem spoke: Let Us make Adam” (Bereishit 1:26).

Before creating man, HaShem consulted with the angels. However, before creating the woman He did not consult with anyone. Therefore, women thank HaShem for creating them in accordance with His will, i.e. His will alone, without the inclusion of the will of another (Y’shuat Yaakov).

Who was Created for Whom?

“Let Us make Adam” (Bereishit 1:26).

Why was man created last in the order of creation?

Our Sages z”l taught, if man is meritorious, everything was prepared for him. If not, even the mosquito, being more important, preceded him.

Rabbi Yitzchak zt”l of Worke explained it with a nice parable: There are two types of wagon drivers. One, HaShem wants to supply him with a livelihood. Therefore, HaShem sends him a horse and a wagon. The other, well, HaShem sustains the entire world, and He wants to sustain this horse. Consequently, HaShem sends the horse a wagon driver to supply all his needs.

The two wagon drivers are taken care of similarly. But what a difference between them. The first one, the horse works for him. The second one works his whole life for his horse. That is what our Sages meant. Man was created last. If he is not meritorious, the mosquito was created first. The person was created to feed his blood to the mosquito.


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