1. There are two aspects in Shabbos: 1) Its connection to the preceding week, as our Sages said “Whoever toils on Erev Shabbos eats on Shabbos,” meaning one’s work before Shabbos enables one to enjoy Shabbos properly; 2) Its connection to the following week, whose days are blessed from the Shabbos. It follows then that Shabbos joins together the days preceding and following it.

Shabbos Bereishis in particular joins together the month of Tishrei with the rest of the year. It is always at the end of the month of Tishrei, and therefore the days of the preceding week are all days of Tishrei. Simultaneously, we bless the month of Cheshvan on Shabbos Bereishis, meaning that (at least part of) the following week are days of Cheshvan. Thus the function of Shabbos Bereishis is to join together Tishrei and the rest of the year beginning from Cheshvan. That is, by joining them together, the concepts of Tishrei are extended over the entire year. This is seen in the “blessing for the new month” made on Shabbos Bereishis, which is the idea of effecting blessings for Rosh Chodesh Cheshvan and the rest of the month — and thereby for the rest of the year.

The above lends understanding to the greatness and precious nature of a farbrengen held on Shabbos Bereishis. A farbrengen at any time is a lofty thing, for, as the Alter Rebbe said, it has the power to effect more than the angel Michoel can. In addition, at a farbrengen on Shabbos Bereishis, one is given special strength to increase in the good resolutions undertaken during Tishrei — for that is the idea of Shabbos Bereishis: to join together and extend the concepts of Tishrei to the whole year.

Extra emphasis to this is given by the adage of the Rebbeim that “the way a person conducts himself on Shabbos Bereishis, so goes one the entire year.” That conduct on Shabbos Bereishis affects that of the entire year, applies to both spiritual and physical matters. Although the above adage was said in regards to Torah, nevertheless, Torah is the conduit through which everything flows to this world, as our Sages said: “He looked in the Torah and created the world.” It is the “Torah of light,” meaning that it illuminates all a Jew’s matters, even non-Torah matters — “all your deeds should be for the sake of heaven” and “in all your ways you shall know Him.”

Moreover, Torah affects a person’s conduct even at a time when the service of “in all your ways you shall know Him” does not apply. The beginning of Shulchan Aruch states “I place G‑d before me always” — not just when learning Torah and fulfilling mitzvos (including “in all your ways you shall know Him”) — but as soon as a Jew awakes from sleep. Although a Jew is then in a state of impurity (i.e. a spirit of impurity is on his hands, and therefore he may not mention G‑d’s Name until he washes them), Torah nevertheless compels him to meditate on the idea of “I place G‑d before me always” — and this in turn affects his actual conduct. That is, upon awakening from sleep, a Jew is not permitted to learn Torah before washing his hands and reciting the appropriate blessings; nor can he perform mitzvos; nor can he even serve G‑d in the manner of “all your deeds should be for the sake of heaven.” Nevertheless, even in such a situation, Torah effects that he should know and contemplate that “I place G‑d before me always” — and such that it affects actual conduct. Such is demanded of a Jew at all times. This is the effect of Torah on all Jews: In every situation he must fulfill Torah’s directive of “I place G‑d before me always.”

So too in our case: Shabbos effects the entire year although the adage was said concerning Torah — for Torah affects all matters, even physical things. Consequently, the time of Shabbos Bereishis is precious indeed.

Although any deficiency in one’s conduct on Shabbos Bereishis can be rectified in the rest of the year, for “nothing stands in the way of teshuvah,” the time of Shabbos Bereishis must still be utilized to its full. The Yetzer Horah (Evil Inclination) may try to convince a person that it is more important to utilize this time for Torah study rather than thinking of one’s conduct for the rest of the year — and when the time for actual conduct comes, then a person will consider how to act. Why waste the time of Shabbos in thinking of one’s future conduct (in the rest of the year) when it could be used for Torah study now?!

Moreover, claims the Yetzer Horah, the Talmud Yerushalmi is of the opinion that Torah study is greater than fulfillment of mitzvos. Certainly then, it is more worthwhile to engage in Torah study on Shabbos Bereishis than on thinking of fulfillment of mitzvos at a later date!

The answer to this is that our Rebbeim have taught that conduct on Shabbos Bereishis affects and influences the entire year. This time must therefore be utilized to strengthen and increase in good resolutions for service in the coming year, enabling that service to be on the loftiest level.

An example of this is the Talmudic statement that “A person who possesses Torah learning but not fear of heaven is comparable to a treasurer who has been entrusted with the inner keys but not the outer keys. How will he enter?” That is, despite the greatness of Torah study, we first need fear of heaven, for without this “key” how will we enter? The Alter Rebbe explains that we find “the early Chassidim would spend one hour on the Shemoneh Esreh prayer at each of the three prayers each day; and one hour before each prayer; and one hour after each prayer. This totals 9 hours a day. They did not worry that they were thereby reducing the time for Torah study, although Torah study is equal to all the mitzvos; for they were thereby binding their minds to G‑d in fear and love ... and the mitzvah of true bonding with fear and love is greater than the mitzvah of Torah study, and precedes it.” And, since one must possess fear of G‑d as a preparation to Torah study, one must meditate on those matters which inspire fear of G‑d.

In practical terms, the time of Shabbos Bereishis must be utilized to strengthen resolutions for one’s service for the whole year, and to actually fulfill them. And since it is now Shabbos Bereishis, these resolutions must first and foremost be in matters associated with Shabbos: The campaign to kindle Shabbos lights; Kashrus; and family purity, all connected to Shabbos, as the Talmud states, that when a man comes from synagogue to his home on Erev Shabbos he finds a “lit candle (Shabbos lights), a prepared table (Kashrus of food and drink) and a spread bed (family purity).” In addition, the Torah campaign; for Torah and Shabbos are connected — “all agree that the Torah was given to Israel on Shabbos.” Likewise the education campaign, for our Sages say that at Mattan Torah Jews were like children in school.

Besides these campaigns, special emphasis must be laid on Ahavas Yisroel and unity among Jews. Every action of man needs G‑d’s blessing — “The L‑rd your G‑d will bless you in all that you do.” To receive G‑d’s blessings one must be included in and united with all Jewry, for unity of Jews is the vessel for receiving C-d’s blessings. As the Alter Rebbe writes in his Siddur: “It is proper to say before prayer: I hereby take upon myself to fulfill the mitzvah of ‘Love your fellow as yourself.’“ This unity must be evident among all categories of Jews, ranging from “the heads of your tribes” to “the drawers of your water.” A water-drawer, a simple Jew, may claim that since his service is done with simple faith, without questioning, G‑d must pay him in like measure — to give him all his needs without questioning. Nevertheless, such a Jew must know that G‑d’s blessings come to him not through his own strength, but through uniting with all Jews. Likewise, the “heads of your tribes” may think that G‑d’s blessings are due to them because of their many merits. But they too are instructed “do not disassociate yourselves from the community,” and they too need to unite with all Jews.

Parenthetically, we find that only love of a fellow Jew is a mitzvah from the Torah, and not to unite with Jews. One of the reasons for this is that a commandment is relevant only to something in which man has free choice. Something which a person must do cannot be commanded, for he has no other choice. In our case, when a Jew properly fulfills the mitzvah of “You shall love your fellow as yourself,” it must lead to his uniting with all Jewry. For, as explained in Tanya, the subject for meditation that leads to Ahavas Yisroel is that “all (souls) are of a kind, all having one Father;” and contemplation of having one Father must lead to the idea of unity. Thus, since Ahavas Yisroel inevitably leads to unity, there can be no commandment given concerning it (but only about Ahavas Yisroel — which then leads to unity).

Through the all-encompassing campaigns of Ahavas Yisroel, unity, and education, the other campaigns follow: Torah, tefillin, mezuzah, tzedakah, house full of Jewish books; and, as mentioned above, Shabbos lights, Kashrus, and family purity. Likewise, the present campaign of uniting all Jewry through the writing of the general Sefer Torahs.


2. The above (that on Shabbos Bereishis we must strengthen and increase in good resolutions for the whole year) applies on every Shabbos Bereishis. In addition, there is a special lesson to be learned from the day of the month on which Shabbos Bereishis falls this year — the 29th of Tishrei. This is associated with Rosh Hashanah (and 1st day of Sukkos and Shemini Atzeres) this year being on Shabbos, for when Rosh Hashanah is on Shabbos, Shabbos Bereishis must fall out on the 29th of Tishrei: the two are interdependent. Thus the special distinction of this year is that the beginning of Tishrei (Rosh Hashanah) and its conclusion (Shabbos Bereishis) are on Shabbos, meaning that the concept of “the beginning is rooted in the end” (beginning and end of Tishrei) applies also in the days of the week — on Shabbos. Although the concept of Rosh Hashanah, Sukkos, etc., are associated with the day of the month, and not the day of the week, nevertheless, the days of the week affect the days of the month. For instance, on Rosh Hashanah which falls out on Shabbos, we do not blow the shofar; and we do not perform the mitzvah of lulav and esrog on Sukkos which falls out on Shabbos. Thus, since this year Rosh Hashanah, Sukkos and Shemini Atzeres are similar to Shabbos Bereishis in that they are all on Shabbos, added emphasis and elevation is given to the connection between them.

Moreover, since the Yomim Tovim this year stress the idea of Shabbos, it follows that the service of the rest of the year is similar to the type of service of Shabbos. “Shabbos is sanctified of itself,” without any need of man’s service. Simultaneously however, man’s service also has a place, by adding to the ta’anug (delight) of Shabbos. Thus in the service of Shabbos we find both aspects: from G‑d’s side, and from man’s side. In addition, service on Shabbos is in the manner of rest and delight.

When service is with delight, it is much easier, to the extent that no effort is needed at all. The halachah states that an “am-ha’aretz (ignorant person, boor) does not lie on Shabbos;” thus, when he says he has separated terumah and ma’aser from food, he can be relied upon and the food may be eaten. Although he is not relied upon on weekdays (for we suspect he may lie) the very idea of Shabbos — without any service or work on his part — elevates him to the level where he does not lie. Belief in an am-ha’aretz on Shabbos is so strong that, as above, it extends even to food matters. Eating forbidden foods is an extremely degrading thing, as seen from the discussion concerning the verse “no sin will befall a tzaddik.” Commentators debate whether this applies to all sins, or only to the sin of eating forbidden foods, for “it is a degradation for a tzaddik who eats forbidden foods.” Nevertheless, so great is the elevation produced by Shabbos that an am-ha’aretz is believed even concerning food.

In addition to the idea of ta’anug, Shabbos also emphasizes the idea of Ahavas Yisroel and unity between Jews — as expressed in the fact that even an am-ha’aretz does not lie on Shabbos. Our Sages, on the verse “Jerusalem the rebuilt, like a city that is joined together,” that it is “a city which makes the verse “Jerusalem the rebuilt, like a city that is joined together,” comment that it is “a city which makes all Israel chaverim” (friends) — through all Jews (even an am-ha’aretz ) being believed about taharos between him and the talmud chacham is effected. Not only does the am-ha’aretz listen to the talmud chacham and accept his directives, but the talmud chacham relies on the words of the am-ha’aretz and receives his food. Since, then, Shabbos emphasizes unity, service of the entire year must also emphasize unity among Jews.


3. Ch. 1, verse 4 of parshas Bereishis states: “G‑d saw the light that it was good, and G‑d divided between the light and the darkness.” Rashi, quoting the words “G‑d saw the light that it was good and He divided,” comments: “For this too we need the words of the Aggadah (to understand its meaning): He saw (the light) that it was not fitting that the wicked should use it, and so He set it aside (“divided it”) for the righteous for the future to come. And according to its plain meaning, explain it thus: He saw that it was good, and it was not seemly for it and the darkness that they should function mixed together, and so He set for this one (the light) its limit in the day, and for the other (the darkness) its limit in the night.”

Rashi’s explanation “For this too we need the words of the Aggadah” follows his explanation of the first verse in Torah “In the beginning G‑d created,” on which Rashi says “This passage calls for a Midrashic interpretation ... And if you come to interpret it in its plain sense, explain it thus.” Hence, when we come to our verse, Rashi writes that “For this too we need the words of the Aggadah ... And according to its plain meaning, explain it thus.” And although it is an Aggadic explanation, nevertheless, it must also have relevance to the plain meaning. In Rashi’s own words: “I have come only (to teach) the plain meaning of the verse and such Aggadah which explains the words of Scripture in a manner that fits in with them.”

However, there are some points in this Rashi which need clarification.

1. Why does Rashi quote only the words “G‑d saw the light that it was good and He divided” and not the rest of the verse “between the light and the darkness.” The phrase “and He divided” by itself (without the following words “between the light and the darkness”) is meaningless, for it does not tell us what was divided. Hence Rashi should have quoted the rest of the verse.

2. Why does Rashi find it necessary to state “For this too we need the words of Aggadah” (i.e. just as in verse 1). What connection is there between the two verses that Rashi emphasizes that our verse is similar to verse 1 in that it also needs Aggadic interpretation (as opposed to the plain meaning). Even if without the fact that verse 1 needs Aggadic interpretation, our verse would still require it. For there is an intrinsic question in our verse which can be only answered by the Aggadah: At the beginning of creation “darkness was upon the face of the deep,” and afterwards “G‑d said: let there be light and there was light.” What is the function of G‑d’s dividing between the light and the darkness, when the very essence of the creation of light is separation from darkness? Moreover, the act of division by G‑d came about only because “G‑d saw the light that it was good” — and without this there would have been no act of division. Because of this question Rashi is forced to bring the Aggadic interpretation that this division was “for the righteous for the world to come.” Since Rashi is forced to bring the Aggadah because of the above question in this verse itself, what difference does it make if a prior verse also needed Aggadic interpretation.

3. As explained above, even the “words of Aggadah” must be consonant with the plain meaning. In this case, how can we say that G‑d set aside the light “for the righteous for the future to come,” when we know that the creation of light followed preceding darkness (“there was darkness on the face of the deep”). If so, now that G‑d “set aside the light for the righteous for the future to come” -how is there now light in the world?

Secondly, the verse states “G‑d divided between the light and the darkness”: and the Aggadic interpretation is that G‑d set aside (“divided”) the light from the wicked. How can this be the interpretation when the verse says explicitly that the division was between the light and the darkness (and not between the light and the wicked).

4. Why does Rashi say “He saw that it was good, and it was not seemly for it and the darkness that they should function mixed together.” Why does Rashi write “it was not seemly “ when he could utilize the term used by Scripture, and write “He saw that it was good, and it was not good for it and the darkness to function mixed together.”

5. How indeed is it possible for light and darkness to “function mixed together,” when light and darkness are opposites, positive and negative.

The explanation:

Division can be in two ways: Between two different things; or within one thing itself — as we find later on in the story of Creation that “He divided between the water below the firmament and the waters above the firmament” — that is, a division in the waters themselves. In our case, the verse “G‑d saw the light that it was good and He divided” refers to a division in the “light” itself (in addition to the division between the light and the darkness). There were two elements present in the light: the “light” and the fact that “It was good.” That is, in addition to “G‑d said: let there be light and there was light,” G‑d saw an extra element — “that it was good.” That is why it does not state “G‑d saw the light that it illuminated” — for it tells us nothing we do not already know, for the idea of light is that it illuminates. Instead, this verse emphasizes that there was an additional element in the light (besides it illuminating) — “it was good.”

Thus, “G‑d saw the light that it was good and He divided,” means G‑d divided between the “good” in the light and the essence of the light (its illuminating function). He did this when He saw that “it was not fitting that the wicked should use it,” and therefore “set aside (the “good” in the light) for the righteous for the future to come.” Therefore there is no difficulty how there is now light in the world, for the setting aside was only in relation to the extra element of “goodness,” and not the light itself.

Hence Rashi quotes only the words “G‑d saw the light that it was good and He divided” and not the rest of the verse or even “etc.,” to emphasize that the words “He divided” are the end of this particular concept: That when G‑d saw the light had the additional element of “it was good,” He divided it from the actual light itself. The continuation of the verse “between the light and the darkness” is another matter. That is, there are two divisions here: Within the light itself, between the “good” in the light and the light; and between the light and the darkness (as Rashi later explains according to the “plain meaning”). We find in other places that the same word can simultaneously apply to a preceding passage and to a following passage. Thus in our case, the words “He divided” refers to the preceding words “G‑d saw the light that it was good and He divided (between the “good” and the light); and also to the following words — “G‑d divided between the light and the darkness.”

The explanation of the light and darkness functioning “mixed together” (two opposites, positive and negative) is not that both light and darkness simultaneously reigned, for that would indeed be impossible: When it is light it is not dark, and when dark it is not light. Rather, it means there were no fixed, stable times for when the light and darkness would separately rule. Instead, for example, one hour would be light, another hour darkness, etc. The effect of the division between “light and darkness” was that “He set for this one its limit in the day, and the other its limit in the night.”

This gives the explanation for Rashi’s choice of words “He saw that it was good, and it was not seemly for it and for the darkness to function mixed together.” Rashi cannot say that “it was not good” for it to function mixed together, for this implies that the darkness prevented the light from illuminating. But this was not the case: Although there were no fixed times for the light and the darkness (but one hour this one, the next hour the other), at the time when the light did shine, it illuminated perfectly well, without any hindrance from the darkness (which came only in the following hour). Nevertheless, since G‑d saw that “it was good,” it was not “seemly” that light should not have its fixed, regular period of time for its rule only (such that in the next hour it would not be pushed away by the darkness). Therefore “He set for the former its limit in the day and for the other its limit in the night.” The light now had its set time, and within that period it would not be pushed away by the darkness.