Many of you who witnessed the reading of the final portion and then of the first chapter of the Torah on Simchat Torah must have wondered about the connection between the end and the beginning of the Chumash. Our great Sages gave us one of many explanations in the form of the following tale:

Once upon a time there lived a clockmaker. He was a very skilled craftsman who knew his profession thoroughly. In his spare time he worked on a clock which, if completed, would not have its equal in the entire world. After years of industrious labor his masterpiece was finished. The clock did not appear different from any other clock, for the secret of this miracle-clock was that it contained a hidden lever that made the clock go backwards. Many people heard bout the handiwork of this master and offered him much money for it. But the man would not hear of selling it. One day he wrapped up his masterpiece and brought it to the king’s palace. “None but the noblest of all the people shall possess this clock,” he told the king, as he presented him with the gift.

All visitors to the royal palace admired the precious clock, and its fame spread far and wide. One day another watchmaker saw it, and not knowing its secret, assumed that its only merit was its beauty and grace. “Why, I myself could have made it just as well,” he thought. He at once set out to claim that he was the master who had produced the famous clock, and that the man who had attached his name to it and had given it to the king was an impostor who had stolen his masterpiece. Rumors like this always find a willing ear. After a short while everyone, even the king himself, had heard about the claim of the second clockmaker.

The king was a righteous man who did not stand for any injustice. He sent for the craftsman who had made him the precious gift, and confronted him with his rival who accused him of the theft. The true maker of the clock was shocked by the suggestion. Concealing his anger and pain, he smiled and said to the king: “Your Majesty, if I may be granted the privilege of making a suggestion, you shall very soon know who was the true manufacturer of this clock.”

The king, who knew in his heart that the second clockmaker was the impostor, gladly gave him permission to speak.

“Who but the artist who made the clock should know its mechanism?” said the first clockmaker. “The secret that distinguishes it from other clocks is that it can be made to work backwards. If my colleague claims to have made the clock, he certainly should have no trouble performing this trick.”

The king agreed eagerly to this test, and ordered the impostor to step forward and make the clock go backwards. The man worked over the fine mechanism until perspiration broke out over his whole body. He nearly ruined the clock in a vain effort to discover the right lever that would do the trick. After a few hours he had to concede defeat. Then the true craftsman stepped forward, pushed the hidden lever, and the clock worked backwards.


Similarly, say our sages, G‑d attached a “hidden lever” to His creation of the universe. When He finds it necessary, He can reverse the laws of nature: Flowing waters stand still, and the sun reverses course. Iron floats on top of water, and the wolf plays with the lamb. This “lever” shows the Divine act of the creation.

The Torah begins with the words: “In the beginning G‑d created the heaven and the earth,” and ends with the words: “And all the signs and wonders . . . which Moses displayed before the eyes of all Israel.”

The entire Jewish people witnessed the miracles that Moses had performed through Divine assistance. They observed how G‑d put all laws of nature into reverse. They did not have to believe that G‑d was the Creator of the universe; they saw with their own eyes that He was the Master of the world, and knew indeed that “In the beginning G‑d created heaven and earth!” We cannot doubt what at least six hundred thousand Jews saw with their own eyes.

We, too, know that G‑d is the Creator and Master of the world.