1. This Shabbos is both Shabbos Bereishis and Shabbos Mevorchim MarCheshvan. Shabbos Bereishis is associated with Torah, it having the name it does because we read in the Torah the parshah Bereishis. Shabbos Mevorchim MarCheshvan is associated with time, the month of the year.

Each of these aspects of this Shabbos have qualities that the other does not possess. According to the rule that between something that occurs frequently and something that does not, that which occurs frequently takes precedence, Shabbos Mevorchim precedes the concept of Shabbos Bereishis. For Shabbos Mevorchim occurs 12 times a year (13 in a leap year), while Shabbos Bereishis is but once a year.1 In addition, the blessing for the new month on Shabbos Mevorchim (“for life and for peace, for gladness and for joy, for deliverance and for consolation”) is a blessing in both physical and spiritual matters. As part of the prayers, it is meant literally, in physical matters. And since all physical matters have their spiritual counterpart, it is also a blessing in spiritual things. It is a blessing that encompasses the loftiest (spiritual) heights to the most physical of things.

Nevertheless, notwithstanding this distinction of Shabbos Mevorchim, it is the aspect of Shabbos Bereishis that takes precedence. For Shabbos Bereishis is, as mentioned above, the concept of Torah, and all blessings flow through Torah. Especially since we have just celebrated Simchas Torah from which the joy of Torah is drawn for the whole year, thus stressing the greatness of Torah. Hence it is proper to talk about the aspect of Shabbos Bereishis of this Shabbos before that of Shabbos Mevorchim MarCheshvan.

The distinction of Shabbos Bereishis (Torah) in that it follows Shemini Atzeres and Simchas Torah is especially emphasized this year. Sometimes Shemini Atzeres falls out on Shabbos, and then the “seven days of completion” of Yom Tov ends on Friday, Erev Shabbos (the seven days starting from and including Shemini Atzeres). Shabbos Bereishis is then not part of these seven days. But this year, the calendar is such that Shabbos Bereishis is within the ‘seven days of completion’ of Shemini Atzeres, thus emphasizing the connection between the two.

In addition, within the seven days itself, Shabbos Bereishis can fall out on various days of the week. This year Shemini Atzeres was on Tuesday, and thus Shabbos Bereishis is on the fifth day of the ‘seven days of completion.’ In the days of the month, this is the 26th of Tishrei, and the portion of Tehillim recited on the 26th2 begins with the verse “How I love Your Torah.” Thus the precedence of Shabbos Bereishis over Shabbos Mevorchim, due to the distinction of Torah, is stressed once again.

2. Parshas Bereishis, which relates the creation of the world, is the concept of the world as it is in Torah. And as it is in Torah so it is in the world — “G‑d looked into the Torah and created the world [according to it].” The Torah study of Jews continues to keep the world in existence — “Men occupy themselves in Torah and keep the world in existence.” Hence, when a Jew reads Torah, and especially when he reads the passage of the creation of the world, he effects the creation of the world anew.

But the world has been existing for thousands of years. What new thing has been accomplished in the renewal of creation by learning now the verse “In the beginning G‑d created the heaven and the earth?” It cannot refer to the continuous creation ex nihilo as taught by the Baal Shem Tov (i.e. that without this continuous re-creation the world would revert to its original state — nihilo, naught), for that has no special significance on Shabbos Bereishis. On every Shabbos and every day of the year, the world is being created anew. What is so special about the re-creation on Shabbos Bereishis?

However, the creation can be in two ways. Either the renewal of the old creation, in exactly the same way; or a completely new creation, in a far loftier fashion than before, as if there was never a previous creation. The Baal Shem Tov taught that in reality there is no difference between nature and miracles, for nature is also miraculous. But since nature is always with us, and we become accustomed to it, we do not recognize its miraculous form. Similarly, the mere renewal of creation of the world is not seen as a new creation, since it is a continuous process.

Likewise, the creation of the world through Jews’ service can be in both ways: renewal of the old creation, and a new creation, as if nothing ever existed previously. However, not everyone can effect the latter type, and thus the regular service of a Jew is the renewal of the old creation. Therefore the term “keep in existence” is used when describing the creation through a Jew’s Torah study (“Men occupy themselves in Torah and keep the world in existence”), for it is merely a renewal of the old, not a completely new creation (unlike G‑d, where it says “G‑d looked into the Torah and created the world”).

Nevertheless, the ultimate goal is to effect the creation in a completely new fashion. For since “righteous people are comparable to their Creator,” they too, like G‑d, can newly create the world as if it had never been in existence.

The method of creation by G‑d (either renewal of the old or completely new) is dependent on Jews’ service. In other words: when we cannot discern any new element in the renewal of creation it is because our service is not in a completely new manner, but merely a renewal of the old. Hence, when a Jew changes himself and performs his service in a completely new manner, and “he is a partner with G‑d in the creation of the world,” then his service effects that his “partner” should also create in a completely new manner.

This is the difference in the renewal of the creation between Shabbos Bereishis and other times. During the entire year, a person’s service can be just the renewal of the old or in a completely new manner. Dependent on this is the type of renewal of creation that is the result of a Jew’s service. On Shabbos Bereishis however, there is no doubt that a Jew’s service is in a completely new, higher manner, and thus the renewal of creation is a completely new one. For Shabbos Bereishis follows the service of the entire month of Elul, Selichos, Rosh Hashanah, the Ten Days of Repentance, Yom Kippur, Sukkos, Shemini Atzeres and Simchas Torah. After all these, a Jew’s service is certainly in a completely new manner. Hence, when Shabbos Bereishis comes, and we read “In the beginning G‑d created the heaven and the earth,” there is no doubt that the world is thus created completely anew. The greatness of Shabbos Bereishis then, is that we read the entire parshah of Bereishis, preceded and followed by a blessing. And the renewal of creation thus effected is not just by those who actually received an ‘aliyah’ to the Torah when Parshas Bereishis is read, but also by those who listen to the blessings made and answer ‘Amen.’ Indeed, the Talmud states: “He who answers ‘Amen’ is greater than he who makes the blessing.” Chassidus explains that the answering of ‘Amen’ reflects the actual flow of the blessings below. And since there are many things done in the synagogue that affect those not there, such people also are influenced by the greatness of Shabbos Bereishis.

The concept of Shabbos Bereishis extends to and affects the whole year. For on Shabbos Bereishis we bless the month of MarCheshvan, which, following the revelations of Tishrei, is the start of the general service of the year. This is the distinction of Shabbos Mevorchim MarCheshvan compared to Shabbos Mevorchim of the other months. On this Shabbos we read Parshas Bereishis, which gives strength to Jews to effect the complete renewal of the world.

This is in addition to its distinction of being in the month of Tishrei. Tishrei is the month that is “satiated (with Yomim Tovim) and satiates all Yisroel with good the entire year” and “G‑d Himself blesses this month, and with this strength Jews bless the other eleven months.”

The lesson from all the above in actual deed: The purpose of the creation of the world is because G‑d desired a dwelling place in this corporeal world. This is achieved through the service of spreading Judaism, and especially Chassidus, beginning with the Campaigns — Ahavas Yisroel, education, Torah study, tefillin, mezuzah, tzedakah, house full of Jewish books, Shabbos lights, kashrus, family purity. Also the most recent campaign, to unite all Jews in an eternal bond through each one purchasing a letter in a Sefer Torah.

One may think that since in the past he has busied himself in these things, it will be enough if he continues as in the past. In addition, one can become depressed by the difficulties and opposition encountered in the past. This is what Shabbos Bereishis teaches us. His service in the future must be in a completely new fashion, and it will not suffice to carry on as in the past. And he need not fear any opposition, for Shabbos Bereishis effects the creation of the world in a completely new fashion, eliminating any bad things or opposition. Hence one can fulfill his service easily and with joy and a good heart.

However, right now (at the time of the farbrengen when this is being said), it is after the reading in the Torah of parshas Bereishis. Hence, comes the question, what now can be done in regards to the renewal of creation? Nevertheless, although it is after the reading of parshas Bereishis, and even after Minchah, when we read parshas Noach, the whole Shabbos is still called Shabbos Bereishis. In Halachah, this Shabbos is still called Shabbos Bereishis until the stars appear. If, for example, witnesses testify that a person did something on this Shabbos, they must say it happened on Shabbos Bereishis, even if it happened after Minchah. Hence, until the very end of Shabbos, whenever a Jew learns the verse “In the beginning G‑d created the heaven and the earth” he effects the complete renewal of creation.

But then the question is reversed — if now it becomes so easy to fulfill one’s task, since all opposition is eliminated, a person’s work is done without any effort and one loses all satisfaction!

It is explained in Tanya that in the future, when the promise “I will remove the spirit of impurity from the land” is fulfilled, a Jew’s service will be (not to eliminate evil but) to rise ever higher in holiness. Such a service entails much effort. So too in our case. Even though opposition may be eliminated, there are still many things to accomplish, which entails effort. Effort is not necessarily in physical things but may also be in spiritual work, in Torah study and spreading Judaism.

In practical terms: Shabbos Bereishis is the appropriate time to make good resolutions in spreading Judaism and Chassidus, since we are given special strength to completely renew the existence of the world and thus abolish all opposition to one’s service. This means simply to increase and renew one’s efforts in all the Mitzvah campaigns, especially in uniting all Jews by each purchasing a letter in a Sefer Torah. And very soon we will merit to learn the Torah of Moshiach in the true and complete redemption.


3. This month is called MarCheshvan because ‘Mar’ means ‘drop,’ and refers to the drops of rain that begin to fall in this month. We see that in the preceding month of Tishrei, on most of the month we say in our prayers “He causes the dew to descend,” while in the entire month of MarCheshvan we say “He causes the wind to blow and the rain to fall” — for in this month the rains began to fall.

MarCheshvan is one of the names of the months that “they brought with them from Babylon.”3 Its original name in the Holy tongue is mentioned in the Prophets (Melachim I 6:38): “In the eleventh year, in the month Bul which is the eighth month.” The Midrash explains that the word ‘Bul’ is similar to the word ‘Mabul’ (flood) minus the letter ‘Mem.’ ‘Mem’ in Hebrew numerology equals 40, corresponding to the 40 days duration of the flood, which began in the month of MarCheshvan. Although G‑d promised that He would never again bring a world flood, nevertheless, these 40 days every year had an adverse effect on the world. When King Shlomo built the Bais Hamikdosh, (the adverse effect of) these 40 days were annulled. Therefore, the word ‘Mabul’ is written without the letter ‘Mem’ (Bul), corresponding to the 40 days that now ceased (to have any effect).

Since every story in Torah provides a lesson in man’s service to G‑d, we must derive a lesson from this narrative. However, a question arises. The name of this month, Bul, was only in the beginning, and now it is called MarCheshvan. How then is it possible to derive a lesson today from the name Bul?4

The difference between Bul and MarCheshvan is that Bul is in the Holy tongue, while MarCheshvan is Aramaic, one of the names “they brought with them from Babylon.” The difference in Torah between things that are written in Hebrew and things in Aramaic (or other languages), is that T’nach (Scripture, Prophets, Writings) is practically all written in Hebrew, while the Talmud is in Aramaic. For the Talmud is the elucidation of the Halachah, the way of conduct in the world, and hence is in Aramaic (non-holy tongue). Torah itself however is written in the holy tongue.

Thus we find that the Codifiers (Rambam, R. Yosef Karo, the Alter Rebbe), although they wrote their Halachic works in Hebrew, needed to derive the Halachah from the Talmud, written in Aramaic. They could not do so from the Mishnah, written in Hebrew, for it is forbidden to derive the Halachah from the Mishnah, but only from the Talmud, specifically in Aramaic. Likewise, in regard to their learning, we know that the Rambam mainly used Arabic,5 and the Alter Rebbe learned in Yiddish. Indeed, the Alter Rebbe writes that “the Baal Shem Tov said Torah in Yiddish and not in the Holy tongue,” and only afterwards did his disciples translate it into Hebrew.6 For the elevation of this corporeal world must be specifically through a language that is less loftier than the holy tongue (Aramaic, Arabic, Yiddish etc.).

The same reasoning applies to Shabbos Mevorchim MarCheshvan. We are in exile, and the world must be sanctified and elevated as it is in the state of exile. Just as the Halachah is clarified in Aramaic, so too the world is elevated through Aramaic specifically. Therefore we stress on Shabbos Mevorchim that the name of the month is MarCheshvan, the name that “they brought with them from Babylon”-Aramaic (and not Bul).

This is especially so since the whole concept of Shabbos Mevorchim came about because of the exile. In the times of the Bais Hamikdosh, when Rosh Chodesh was established through eyewitness testimony, they did not know in advance on the preceding Shabbos when Rosh Chodesh would be. Only after the destruction7 was Shabbos Mevorchim instituted.8 Hence, since it came about because of the exile, when we bless the coming month we stress the names “that they brought with them from Babylon.”

However, just as the source for the clarification of the Halachah is the Mishnah written in Hebrew, so too the source of the names “brought with them from Babylon” is Hebrew. For when occupied in the clarification of the Halachah in the Talmud, written in Aramaic, one must always remember that which is written in the Mishnah, in Hebrew. Hence every Halachic decision in the Talmud is based not only on the Mishnah, but also the Scripture, as stressed all over the Talmud, where it states: “From where do we learn this? — because Scripture says...” And likewise with the names of the months. Although they are now called by the names brought from Babylon, we must always remember that their source is the Holy tongue. Therefore, even now, in exile, we can learn a lesson from the name of this month current in the times of King Shlomo — Bul.

The lesson is as follows: As explained before, the rains start in MarCheshvan. During this period of winter, of cold and rain, one’s spirits become naturally depressed. In summer, when one can go outside freely, one’s spirits are raised, and it is easier to serve G‑d properly. But a Jew cannot allow himself to be influenced by this. Indeed the reverse is true. The abundance of light comes from (previous) darkness and the abundance of wisdom from (previous) folly.

This then is the lesson from the narrative of the month of Bul. Even though this month is connected to the flood, the Mabul, to the degree that “these forty days had an (adverse) effect on the world,” the Bais Hamikdosh was nevertheless built specifically in this month. For King Shlomo was not influenced by it, and in fact, caused the reverse. Through the Bais Hamikdosh being built in MarCheshvan, (the adverse effect of) these forty days were abolished.

The lesson in regards to our daily life is that although we are now entering winter, we need not be influenced by it in our service of spreading Judaism and Chassidus. We are fulfilling the mission of the leader of our generation and receive blessings and strength in our work. Since it is a mission from the leader of our generation, it is applicable to and incumbent on each and everyone of us.

In summation. Every Jew has the mission to ensure the existence of the world in a completely new fashion, being that on this Shabbos we read “In the beginning G‑d created the heaven and the earth.” Not only is the world thus ensured of its continuing existence, but is completely renewed, especially since this is Shabbos Mevorchim when we receive extra blessings and strength. Through the work of spreading Judaism and Chassidus we merit all the blessings of G‑d, and merit the true and complete redemption through our righteous Moshiach speedily in our times.