Bereishis 5778 – Living Greatly

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Not so long from now we’ll be zoche to finish reading the entire Torah, and begin anew with Sefer Bereishis. Given the amount of things that I need to do in order to be ready for Chag, I will present a slightly truncated idea on Parshas Bereishis. I say truncated not because it will be short in length, but rather the Dvar Torah has a similar message to what we’ve discussed in an earlier post.

In this week’s Sedrah, we begin with the creation of the entire world by God. Have you ever taken a moment to reflect on just what that means? When we are young, we have a very cursory understanding of the work the Almighty had done. As we go on in age and understanding, our wisdom must get deeper as well. When we say that God created the animals, it’s not just that He made cats and dogs and goldfish. It’s that he imbued every single living thing with intricacies and nuances that are incomprehensible. Animals and plants have tiny, microscopic workings. He created them on their day, but he created the cells, hair follicles, etc. There is so much more to marvel at once you take a look below the surface.

The beginning of the Parsha speaks of Hashem creating the two great luminaries: the great luminary to rule the day, and the small luminary to rule the night, and the stars. We would otherwise refer to them as the sun and moon. The sun and the moon are referred to as great, they both have significant power. Can you imagine living without the light of the sun? Can you picture a pitch black sky with no moon to light up the night? Rabbi Soloveitchik notes something interesting about the me’or hagadol and the me’or hakaton. While the sun gives off light, the moon has no light source of its own, and only reflects the light it receives (the overwhelming majority comes from the sun, but some light also stems from stars and Earth).  That is precisely the reason, explains the Rav, why the moon is referred to as the small luminary, the me’or hakaton while the sun is known as the great luminary, the me’or hagadol. A katan takes, while a gadol gives. Rav Soloveitchik continues that this is exactly why at a bris milah, we bless the newborn baby by saying “zeh katan vegadol yihiyeh”, that this child is now small, but they will ultimately grow. From the time the child is conceived until many years later, the child receives the benefits of those around them. It is our hope, our blessing, that they are set on the right path to ultimately shed this moniker and become a gadol, one who gives and always seeks to give.

There are people who are fully grown who have yet to understand this message. Anyone can be a gadol. May the Almighty continue to find ways to help us live great lives as gedolim who give to those around us.

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