Parshat Bereishit is not only the first parshah of the Torah. It is also the first parshah of the year. Following all the holidays, we leave sanctity and closeness that is attained during the holidays and enter the mundane days of the year. There is a Chassidic tradition to announce after Simchat Torah, "V'Yaakov halach l'darko,1 which means, "And Jacob went on his way." "Jacob" is the Jewish people, and the "way" is our mission to make this world into a home for G‑d.2 The holidays provided the rejuvenation and the spiritual fuel to accomplish our mission in the darkness of the physical world.

There is a Chassidic expression,3 "The way you set yourself up on Shabbat Bereishit, so goes the whole year." Shabbat Bereishit is super important to our mission in transforming the world, and it is pivotal in taking the energy of the holidays and applying it to our service to G‑d all year round.

Since we read parshat Bereishit on this Shabbat, there must be messages here to us to set the foundation and the tone for a meaningful and productive year.

In parshat Bereishit we read about the first sin that was committed: Adam and Eve eating from the tree of knowledge.

From the Midrash4 we know that the prohibition of eating from the tree of knowledge was to end after three hours. Daylight is divided into 12 hours. In the ninth hour5 G‑d commanded Adam not to eat from the tree, and as the 12th hour on that day, which was Friday, was to come to an end, it would be Shabbat and the prohibition would be over.

It begs the question: Adam was the holiest and greatest of all men; G‑d Himself formed him. Couldn't he contain himself for three hours? And even though there are reasons given, explaining why he had to eat from the tree and the benefits that we have because of it, the simple fact is that the prohibition was for three hours, and he couldn't resist the temptation. Why not? (It wasn't even chocolate.)6

The one and only purpose of the evil inclination is to get a person to go against G‑d's will, either by committing a sin or not doing a mitzvah.

Therefore, the more necessary it is for the mitzvah to get done (whether for the person, for the place or for the time), the more the evil inclination tries to stop it from getting done.

This is why we find that sometimes it is a struggle to do the simplest mitzvah, and when you think about it, it doesn't make sense to you. "Why am I struggling with this?" It is because it's so important that you do the mitzvah, that the evil inclination puts in extra effort to make it difficult for you.

The Talmud7 has a discussion based on the question, "What [mitzvah] was your father most careful with?" Since every one of us has a mitzvah that we specifically were created to fulfill more than any other, and because it is so important for you to do that mitzvah, the evil inclination makes it hardest for you to do, even if it is the smallest and simplest thing.

This is how you can figure out what mitzvah is most important for you to do. The thing you struggle with most is probably your mitzvah. And it doesn't have to be one of the 613 biblical commandments. It could be a rabbinical enactment or even a tradition. It is all G‑d's will, and it could be the thing that you were sent here to do.

This is also one of the explanations of the adage of our sages, "Whoever is greater than his fellow, his (evil) inclination is greater."8 Because he is greater, his mitzvot are more powerful, therefore, the evil inclination puts up a greater fight.

Another explanation is that in order that there be true free choice, there must be a balance between good and evil. So when a person is given a great soul, great abilities and an important mission, he is given a powerful evil inclination and, therefore, greater challenges.

Now we will understand why Adam couldn't withstand the temptation. He was the greatest man to ever live, formed by G‑d, and his actions would have the greatest impact, affecting all the generations, until the present one. We can only imagine how powerful the evil inclination was, and how much effort he put into getting Adam to stumble. He came in the form of a snake9 and simply wouldn't give up until Adam ate from the tree.

When G‑d wanted to give the Torah to the Jewish people, He said to Moses, "So shall you say to the house of Jacob [the women10], and speak to the children of Israel [the men11]."12

Why were the women to be told first? It was so that the situation that happened with Eve wouldn't repeat itself.13 She didn't hear the commandment not to eat from the tree of knowledge directly from G‑d, and therefore, she was able to make the mistake of telling the snake that "it shouldn't be touched,"14 which G‑d didn't say, and that led to eating from the tree.15 Had Eve (who was also formed by G‑d, as it says,16 "And He built the tzela [from the side17 of Adam]") been told directly from G‑d not to eat from the tree, she certainly wouldn't have eaten from the tree, and would have made sure that Adam would not as well.

Now that G‑d was giving us the Torah, He made sure that the women were first. That way it is certain that it would be kept, and they would use their womanly wisdom to make sure that their husbands and children do the same.

As we strive to make our homes into a "small Beit Hamikdash," a place of Torah and mitzvot, a place where G‑d will feel at home, the importance of the Jewish woman, the backbone of the home, can't be stressed enough. If the wife is connected and a living example of this, the whole home will be a place where G‑d will feel at home.

Every husband should put in the effort to connect with his wife with understanding and in a peaceful way, striving to be on the same page, making their home into a Torah home.

If you are on the same page, she will surely be a "help"18 to you. She will use her womanly wisdom, as the Talmud19 tells us, "Extra wisdom was given to the woman," to influence the whole home, including the children and the husband, to follow in the ways of G‑d, and the home will certainly be a "small Beit Hamikdash."

I am blessed to see this in my home. Were it not for my wife Dina, I don't know if I would be half the man I have become. She knows just how to get me to be a better father, to learn more Torah and be a better person. She is always pushing us to be better and to do more. And she simply won't tolerate anything that is inappropriate. A Jewish woman is a true blessing.

This is also the meaning of the wedding blessing, said under the chuppah and at Sheva Brachos. We ask G‑d to make the bride and groom joyous, "as You made joyous [Adam and Chava whom] you formed in Gan Eden, mikedem [back then] ."

Why does it say mikedem? isn't it obvious that it happened back then?

Rather, mikedem refers to the way they were in the beginning, before they ate from the tree.

If your home will be a small Beit Hamikdash, we will certainly merit to see the third Beit Hamikdash, and experience the Garden of Eden, the way Adam and Chava experienced it, before the sin, with the coming of Moshiach. The time has come.20