We often take the first verse in the Bible for granted: "In the beginning G‑d created the Heaven and the Earth". (Gen. 1:1) Nevertheless, a careful reading reveals a deep problem. The word "bereishit", usually translated as "in the beginning" does not at all mean that, since it is followed by a verb, and in Hebrew grammar the word "reishit" is always found in the construct state, i.e. it is always connected to word which come after it. Therefore, the literal translation would have to be, "Bereishit (not G‑d), created G‑d, the Heavens and the Earth".

If the verse wanted to teach us the order of the Creation, it would have stated "BaRishona", which means "at first" instead of "Bereishit". (See the commentary of Rashi in 1:1)

The essence of every speck of Creation, is the vitality and spirit of the Torah

Rashi brings a fascinating Midrashic interpretation. The word "bereishit" is actually the word "reishit" preceded by the preposition letter "beit" which means "in", "with", or "for". Therefore, the translation of the verse is, "For 'reishit', G‑d created the Heavens and the Earth". G‑d created the world for the sake of the Torah, as it is written, "(Said the Torah:) G‑d created me as the beginning ("reishit") of His way, the first of His works of old." (Proverbs 8:22)

The Holy Zohar (I:24b) explains "Bereishit": "With (or by way of) 'reishit', G‑d created the Heavens and the Earth". "Reishit" means Torah. G‑d created the world with the Torah. G‑d looked into the Torah and created the world. (Zohar Terumah 161b)

R' Menachem Nachum of Chernobyl, in his book Meor Einayim, writes: "(Said the Torah:) G‑d created me as the beginning (reishit) of His way, the first of His works of old." (Proverbs 8:22) With the Torah, G‑d created the world. Therefore, the essence of every speck of Creation, is the vitality and spirit of the Torah. It is further written, "This is the (law of) Torah; (when) a man dies in a tent." (Num. 19:14) The essence and vitality of the Torah is also called 'man'. And G‑d and the Torah are themselves One (Zohar II 90b).

Therefore all of Creation is suffused with the vitality and spirit of G‑d, as is written, "...and You enliven all things." (Nehemia 9:6) Therefore G‑d diminished and contracted His vitality and His light in order that the world could exist, for His full influence is far too great for the limited capacity of the physical world to bear. This allowed even the lowest spheres to be permeated with and contain His light without risk of shattering.

The task left for us in our world is to raise up our awareness of, and to reveal as much of this light as possible.

[First published in B'Ohel Hatzadikim, Bereishit 5759]