Weekly Portion

Parshat Bereishit (Genesis 1:1-6:8)

The Five Books of Moses begins with the Six Days of Creation, the Shabbat, the story of the Garden of Eden — the first transgression, consequences and expulsion; Cain & Abel, the ten generations to Noah, the Almighty sees the wickedness of man in that generation and decrees to “blot out man” (i.e. the flood).

One of the most profound verses in the whole Torah is “And God created man in His own Image.” Since God does not have a physical being, this means that we are endowed with free-will, morality, reason and the ability to emulate God Who bestows kindness. Also, if we really appreciate that we are created in the image of God, we realize that we have intrinsic worth. Therefore, there is no need to be depressed wondering if you have intrinsic worth!

* * *

Dvar Torah
based on Growth Through Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin

The Torah states that before the great flood:

“The Almighty saw that man did much evil in the land and all the thoughts of his heart were evil the entire day,” (Gen. 6:5).

The Sforno explains that “man did much evil” refers to the past, and “the thoughts of his heart were evil” refers to the future. They would not listen to anyone who would try to correct them and therefore there was no hope that they would do teshuvah, repent.

Regardless of how many faults a person has, if he accepts criticism there is hope that he will improve. The ultimate level is to love criticism. Loving criticism is the 35th prerequisite for acquiring wisdom as listed in Pirke Avos, Ethics of Our Fathers, chapter 6:6.

A person who loves criticism will be grateful to anyone who shows him ways to improve himself. As Rabbi Noah Weinberg taught, “Everyone is grateful to someone who tells him that in his carelessness he dropped his wallet with a large sum of money in it. That should be our attitude towards constructive criticism.”

Even if someone does not appreciate criticism, but he is nevertheless willing to improve himself when he is corrected, he will eventually become a better person. However, there is little hope for someone who refuses to listen to those who try to correct him. The person who criticizes you is the one who loves you and cares about you! Therefore, it is no wonder that children often receive so much criticism from their parents!