1. A Great Time to Farbreng. Chassidim1 in bygone years used to farbreng vigorously on Shabbos Bereishis. Until the year 5654 (1893), my revered father used to pay a visit to his relative, R. Shilem Reich, every Shabbos Bereishis.

2. Reliving the Creation. As is well known, the Alter Rebbe personally read the Torah in shul. He used to stand to the right2 of the individuals being called up to the Reading of the Torah, with his tallis covering his head as far forward as his eyes.

The venerable chassid, R. Pinchas Reizes, told my great-grandfather, the Tzemach Tzedek, that one Shabbos Bereishis, after the Alter Rebbe had read the first three words, Bereishis bara Elokim – “In the beginning G‑d created,” he fell forward with his face on the sefer Torah. After remaining for some time in a state of dveikus, he eventually raised his head and completed the verse, es hashamayim ve’es haaretz – “the heaven and the earth.”

Hearing this, the Tzemach Tzedek commented: “My grandfather, the Alter Rebbe, was probably meditating upon the teaching of the Baal Shem Tov on that verse. When I was still very young, my grandfather used to tell me teachings of the Baal Shem Tov and of the Maggid of Mezritch which he had heard while studying in Mezritch – until I became a fit receptor.”3

One of those teachings was the following [mystical and non-literal] interpretation of the verse, by the Baal Shem Tov:

Bereishis “The beginning of one’s avodah should be…

bara Elokim to reveal4 the Divine Name Elokim…

es hashamayim ve’es haaretz in the heaven and in the earth.”

3. Kabbalistic Queries. [In this section, the Rebbe Rayatz responds to intricate queries raised by the erudite elder chassidim who had been invited to join him at his table.]

4. A Yearlong Aura. The Alter Rebbe states in a maamar that the aura of Shabbos Bereishis lights up all the Shabbosos of the forthcoming year.

5, 6, 7. [These three sections, too, consist of expositions of Kabbalistic terminology that are equally untranslatable.]