Torah.org Home Subscribe Services Support Us
 
Print Version

Email this article to a friend

In The Beginning...

By Rabbi Daniel Travis

"At first the Almighty created the heavens and the earth." (Bereshith 1:1)

One would expect that the opening words of the Torah would express its overall theme: recounting G-d's commandments to the Jewish People. It is therefore somewhat surprising that it starts with the Creation narrative. The first commandment - that the month of Nisan shall be the first in the counting of the months - only appears much later, in the book of Shemoth.1

Before the Torah can relate the commandments, it first must deal with a fundamental issue. Theft is considered to be a heinous transgression, and if people steal, it is as if they have uprooted the entire Torah.2 Forty years after receiving the Torah on Mount Sinai, the Jewish People would capture the land of Israel from the Canaanites. Although taking possession of territory during time of war is not technically considered stealing, it certainly does not seem to be compatible with the Torah's high standards of integrity.3 How would they be able to justify such actions?

The reason that the Torah starts with the story of Creation is to dispel this claim. G-d is the Creator of the World, and as such, can apportion the land to whomever He sees fit. Since the Jewish conquest of the land of Israel was by Divine command, and not by choice, there was not even the slightest trace of theft involved in capturing it from the Canaanites. Consequently, their actions were in total conformance with the Torah's high standards of honest behavior.

On the other hand, the Canaanites were the ones guilty of underhanded conduct. The Canaanites were a nation steeped in theft and falsehood.4 Since the land of Israel is a place of sublime holiness, it can not withstand even the slightest level of national corruption within its borders. It is for this reason that they were expelled.5 The Jewish people, on the other hand, were given the land of Israel because they were righteous in G-d's eyes.6


1. Shemoth 12:1.

2. Rebenu Bachayah-Kad HaKemach, Gezel.

3. Choshen Mishpat 266:1.

4. Pesachim 113b; Bereshith Rabbah 59:9.

5. Commentary of the Malbim on Tehillim 111:7.

6. This essay is based on the question and commentary of Rashi on Bereshith 1:1.


Priceless Integrity, Copyright © 2001 by Rabbi Daniel Travis and Torah.org.

Subscribe to Priceless Integrity and receive the class via e-mail.


 






ARTICLES ON LECH LECHA:

View Complete List

From Egypt to Israel
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5766

The Wandering Jew
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5761

Bris Milah: Mark of Distinction
Rabbi Osher Chaim Levene - 5766

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

A "Sneak Preview" of History
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5761

Lotís and Lots of Opportunities
Rabbi Label Lam - 5774

Use Them or Lose Them
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5757

> Learning How To Walk
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5761

The Deeds of the Patriachs
Shlomo Katz - 5772

To The Place G-d Will Show Us
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5762

Looking for a Chavrusah?

Attitude Conditioning
Rabbi Pinchas Avruch - 5763

The Lech Lecha Test Rates Higher Than The Ur Kasdim Test
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5772

There is a Builder
Shlomo Katz - 5759

ArtScroll

Home Sweet Home
Rabbi Naftali Reich - 5773

Spiritual Yichus
Rabbi Aron Tendler - 5764

Abraham's Dwelling
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5765

The Dawn of a New Era
Rabbi Aron Tendler - 5759



Project Genesis

Torah.org Home


Torah Portion

Jewish Law

Ethics

Texts

Learn the Basics

Seasons

Features

TORAHAUDIO

Ask The Rabbi

Knowledge Base




Help

About Us

Contact Us



Free Book on Geulah!




Torah.org Home
Torah.org HomeCapalon.com Copyright Information