1. In Tanya, the Alter Rebbe writes that an object’s name communicates the life force which brought it into being and maintains it. Hence, the name also reveals the object’s nature. This principle applies to the present Shabbos, which is called Shabbos Bereishis. That name is also related to all the events of the week to come. This is true of all the portions of the Torah, but particularly so of Parshas Bereishis. It is written, “The beginning of Your words will shine.” (For that reason the creation begins with the decree, “Let there be light.”1 ) Hence, the portion Bereishis, which marks the beginning of the all the Torah readings of the entire year, surely affects the entire week and also the entire year to come. By concentrating on the meaning of its verses we can derive insights into those effects. This relates to the meaning of the word Bereishis — in the beginning — describing the beginning of the heavens and earth (thus including within it the totality of existence).

The above is related to the statement of our Rebbeim: “Our stand during the entire year depends on the stance we take on Shabbos Bereishis.” Even though it is after the inscription and the sealing of that inscription effected by the High Holidays, since a Jew through Torah can control the totality of existence,2 it is still possible to influence the year to come on Shabbos Bereishis. A Jew has the power, in one moment and with one turn, to affect all of creation and bring about infinite good, including the ultimate good, the coming of Moshiach.

2. On the verse (Bamidbar 10:10) “On the days of your rejoicing, on your festivals and on your Rosh Chodesh days, you shall sound the trumpets... before your G‑d,” our sages interpreted the phrase, “Rosh Chodesh — heads of your months” as a reference to Rosh Hashanah3 and “on the day of your rejoicing” as a reference to Shabbos. This year the two are joined because Rosh Hashanah falls on Shabbos. Because of that factor, the first day of Sukkos and Shemini Atzeres also fall on Shabbos. In such a year, the last day of the month of Tishrei also falls on Shabbos.

There is another unique factor connected with the present year. If Simchas Torah falls in the middle of the week, some days of the week are connected with the portion V’Zos HaBrachah and some with the portion Bereishis. Only during a year when Shemini Atzeres falls on Shabbos is the entire week that follows connected with Parshas Bereishis. Each portion of the Parshah is connected with a particular day of the week. The Zohar relates that just as G‑d “looked into the Torah and created the world, so when a man looks into the Torah, he maintains the world.” This is true regarding Torah study on any day. However, it applies particularly when one studies the portion of Torah related to that particular day. In a year such as this, there is a greater potential to carry out this service in the fullest manner possible,4 for every day of Parshas Bereishis — the Parshah dealing with the creation of the world — is connected with a specific day of the week.

The above is particularly true since we are in the midst of a month whose “head” was permeated with the service of Kabbalas Ol, acceptance of G‑d as King. This enables us to carry out the service in the days to come in the fullest measure, each day according to its own individual kind of service. Then, as the Zohar declares, “From the Shabbos all the days (of the week) will be blessed.” Since this Shabbos is Shabbos Bereishis, its blessings affect the entire year.

The importance of this year is further intensified by the fact that it is Shivius, the seventh year,5 a year that is “a Shabbos unto G‑d.” The influence of Shivius and that of Shabbos will bring about a year of “light and happiness, joy and honor” with the true and complete redemption, led by Moshiach, speedily in our days.

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3. Rashi6 begins his commentary on the Torah with the statement, “Rabbi Yitzchok said: It was not necessary to begin the Torah, [whose main object is to teach commandments, Mitzvos, with this verse] but from “This month shall be unto you” [the beginning of months] since this is the first Mitzvah7 that Israel was commanded. And what is the reason that it begins with Bereishis? Because of [the verse] “The power of His works He has declared to His people in giving them the heritage of the nations.” For if the nations of the world should say to Israel: “You are robbers, because you have seized by force the lands of the seven nations” they [Israel] could say to them, ‘The entire world belongs to the Holy One, Blessed Be He, He created it and gave it to whomever it was right in His eyes. Of His own will He gave it to them and of His own will He took it from them and gave it to us.’“

Our repetition of this statement fulfills the order, “Open with a word of the king,” for Rashi is like a king, being “the teacher of all Israel,” a sage whose words we are obligated to fulfill. When quoting Rabbi Yitzchok, Rashi does not add any explanation. His statement needs no clarification. Even non-Jews will accept this answer when it is given to them.

Directly after this statement, Rashi states that the world was created “for the sake of Israel” and “for the sake of the Torah.” A Jew must speak with such assurance that a non-Jew will not feel that he has any control over the world. In this manner, not only the Jews, but also the nations of the world will know of “G‑d’s power.”

Not one letter or one word of the Torah can be changed. Similarly, Rabbi Yitzchok’s statement cannot be altered. G‑d has given Israel to us, the Jewish people, as an eternal inheritance. Furthermore, the fact that it has been chosen as the first of Rashi’s commentaries on the Torah8 adds emphasis to its significance. In order to stress the importance of this point and to break through the darkness of Golus and destroy the fear of those who tremble at the sound of a whimpering voice of a non-Jew, I would like to repeat Rashi’s statement in its entirety. [At this time the Rebbe Shlita repeated the Rashi in its entirety.]

4. The above is particularly related to the present year. This year Rosh Chodesh, the Mitzvah that was commanded in the passage, “This month is to you the beginning of the months.” follows directly after Shabbos Bereishis. Shabbos Bereishis which relates how “He told the power of His deeds to His people to give them the heritage of the nations,” always proceeds Rosh Chodesh Cheshvan. However, in many years, there are a number of days between Rosh Chodesh and Shabbos Bereishis. Hence this year, which stresses how immediately after the lesson of Shabbos Bereishis we proceed to the fulfillment of the Mitzvos of Rosh Chodesh, shows the ultimate goal of this study, as our sages commented, “great is study, for it brings to deed.”

The above is related to the concepts of Golus and Geulah. In Golus the non-Jews appear to have power and can come to the Jewish people with demands, declaring, “You are thieves.” However, the Mitzvah of Rosh Chodesh is connected with Geulah, redemption, as in the time of Egypt when the Mitzvah of Rosh Chodesh began the month of Geulah. Similarly in our time, through Torah, we can control the events of the world and can transform the world, bringing the Messianic redemption, speedily in our days.

5. Tishrei is a month of many festivals. Thus, the nature of the month is different from the other months of the year. A Jew’s status during the rest of the year is different from what it is on Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, or Sukkos. Hence, as we leave the month of Tishrei and proceed to the service of Torah and Mitzvos, we announce, “Ya’akov Haloch L’Darko — Ya’akov (a symbol of the collective Jewish people) went on his way.” He goes confidently, with joy. Surely, he will fulfill the mission G‑d has given him. Even though we go into a world inhabited by other nations and we live in exile among them, we are aware that “we did not go into Golus willingly.” Rather, we were sent there by G‑d. Furthermore, our souls never went into Golus. Therefore, we can proceed through Golus with upraised heads, without being affected by any difficulties, fulfilling all of our Jewish obligations.

The above is reinforced by the Shulchan Aruch, which begins, “Always place G‑d before you” and “Do not be embarrassed before those who scorn.” Each individual has the potential to fulfill such service, for G‑d “only asks of a person according to his potential.” The very fact that a particular kind of service is requested is a sign that G‑d has given us the potential to complete it.

Thus, having read Zos HaBrachah, having received all the blessings which Moshe gave, and having made good resolutions in the month of Tishrei, we can proceed to read Parshas Bereishis, the creation of the heaven and earth, and transform them into forms of assistance; helping us in carrying out G‑d’s mission. A Jew lives in the physical world, and even the Mitzvos are en-clothed in physical things. However, the physical and material become vessels that are one with G‑d.

This concept is implied in the statement, “The power of His deeds He told to His people to give them the heritage of the nations.” The meaning of the phrase, “heritage of the nations” can be expanded to include the entire realm of physical things. The parchment for Tefillin has to made from an animal skin. Just as the animal skin has to be worked over in order to be made into leather, so the physical has to be “worked over” to be made useful for spiritual purposes. How is it possible? How is the world to be transformed? The key lies in the statement at the beginning of the Torah: “In the beginning, G‑d created the world.” Furthermore, as the Baal Shem Tov explains, creation is an ongoing process. Each moment G‑d creates the world and brings it into being. Hence, even in Golus, there is no possibility that an element of the world will prevent G‑d’s will from being carried out.