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 VAYEITZEI AND CHANUKAH:

View Complete List

Nice Guys Finish Second -- Second in Command to Pharoah
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5766

Free Will and Bashert
Shlomo Katz - 5775

A Lesson In Exile & Redemption
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5762

ArtScroll

Leah's Eyes
Shlomo Katz - 5758

As Long as the Candle is Burning
Rabbi Label Lam - 5764

There to Share
Rabbi Label Lam - 5763

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

Leaving Ya'akov for Yisroel
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5766

Physical or Spiritual - Who's In Control?
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5759

Build with Your Dreams
Shlomo Katz - 5772

Looking for a Chavrusah?

Now More Than Ever!
Rabbi Label Lam - 5771

Departure of the 'Tent Dweller'
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5757

True Riches
Shlomo Katz - 5772

> Simple But Unbreakable Faith
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5767

Destined for Each Other?
Shlomo Katz - 5768

Into the Hands of the Few
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5763

Light From Darkness, Take Two
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5766



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