The fifth Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Sholom Dovber, once stated: "In the early years of his leadership the Alter Rebbe declared publicly, 'One must live with the time.' From his brother, Rabbi Yehudah Leib, the elder chassidim discovered that the Rebbe meant that one must live with the Torah portion of the week and the particular section of the day. One should not only learn
the weekly portion every day, but also live
"Bereishis is a cheerful portion -- G-d created worlds and living beings -- even though the ending in not all that pleasant. Noach has the Flood. It is a dispirited week. However, the week ends on a happy note with the birth of our father Avraham.
"The truly joyous week is that of the portion Lech Lecha. We live every day of the week with Avraham, the first to dedicate his very life to spreading G-dliness in the world. And Avraham bequeathed his self-sacrifice as an inheritance to all Jews."
Since the Rebbe states that the "truly joyous week is that of the portion Lech Lecha," it is evident that even the end of the week of Noach, where it speaks about the birth of Avraham, is not as truly joyous as the week of Lech Lecha.
This is so because all the details found in a particular Torah portion are related to each other. Therefore, the lack of joy in the overall portion of Noach dampens somewhat the joy at the end of the portion as well.
The same is true with regard to the portion Bereishis. Although Bereishis generally is a "cheerful portion," still, since its ending is "not all that pleasant," the general aspect of the portion also lacks the true measure of joy.
All this leads to the following question. As Bereishis is for the most part a "cheerful portion" and Noach is in the main a "dispirited week," why not divide the portions in a manner that the "not all that pleasant" conclusion of Bereishis serve as the beginning of Noach, and the cheerful ending of Noach serve as the beginning of Lech Lecha, thereby providing two entirely cheerful portions?
The Gemara divides the six thousand years of creation into three categories: "Two thousand years of Tohu [chaos and turmoil], two thousand years of Torah, and two thousand years of 'The Days of Mashiach.'" The Gemara goes on to explain that "Two thousand years of Torah" began with Avraham, the Patriarch who began the actual preparations to Mattan Torah, the giving of the Torah. And this is the special quality of Lech Lecha, wherein "we live every day of the week with Avraham."
Mattan Torah was unique in that it accomplished the unification of "heaven" and "earth," the spiritual and the physical. It follows, that the special quality of Lech Lecha (an entire week that speaks of Avraham) has as its theme the connection between the higher spheres and the lower spheres -- the connection between heaven and earth, the spiritual and the material.
This also explains why Lech Lecha is the third Torah portion, similar to the Torah itself which is a Torah of three parts, Torah, Nevi'im and Kesuvim -- the intermediary level of three that unites "heaven" and "earth."
Thus, Bereishis, the first Torah-section, has Creation as its central theme -- a "heavenly" and divine act. Noach, the second portion relates to the refinement of the earth and "below" through the service of the righteous Noach. Lech Lecha, the third portion, has as its theme, the unification and combination of Bereishis-"above" and Noach-"below."
Our Sages inform us that the "progeny of a righteous individual are his good deeds."
Accordingly, we understand why the portion Noach begins with the words, "These are the children of Noach; Noach was a righteous individual."
Noach's good deeds -- his "progeny" -- alludes to his personal spiritual service. Noach's birth and the other early details of his life, up to the point of "finding favor in G-d's eyes," is primarily not of his own making. Since the aspect of his birth, etc., derives from heaven, it follows that this part of his life story is found in the "heavenly" portion of Bereishis, rather than in the "earthly" portion of Noach.
So, too, regarding many aspects of Avraham that are not mentioned in the portion of Lech Lecha, but only in the portion of Noach: Since Avraham's service as a preparation to Mattan Torah (the combination and the unification of "above" and "below") began only after the time of Lech Lecha --when Avraham left Choron and made his way to Eretz Yisrael -- only these aspects are mentioned in the portion of Lech Lecha.
On the other hand, Avraham's birth and his spiritual service until Lech Lecha, are primarily part and parcel of the elevation of "below," which properly belongs in the portion of Noach, as that manner of service began with Noach and is the theme of that portion.
We now understand why although Bereishis in general and the conclusion of Noach are cheerful, nevertheless, "the truly joyous week is that of the portion Lech Lecha":
True joy "breaks all boundaries." Since the joy of Bereishis consists of the limited joy of "G-d creating worlds and living beings," it does not express ultimate joy. So, too, regarding the conclusion of Noach, wherein Avraham is only providing the preparation to the "breaking of the boundaries" between the heavenly and earthly domains.
It is specifically the portion of Lech Lecha that brought about the actual preparation to Mattan Torah -- the unification of "above" and "below," the spiritual and the material. It therefore rightly earns the title of "the truly joyous week."
Based on Likkutei Sichos Vol. XV, pp. 83-92.
Our Sages taught:
, possessions, (lit. "acquisitions"), did the Holy One, blessed be He, make His very own in His world, and they are: Torah is one possession; heaven and earth is one possession; Avraham is one possession; the people of Israel is one possession; the Beis HaMikdash
is one possession."
The expression "Five possessions did the Holy One, blessed be He, make His very own in His world," seems to imply that the world as a whole is not G-d's possession.
Truly, this needs to be understood. G-d created everything and all of creation is, of course, His. This is expressed in the verse, "The earth and all therein is the L-rd's; the world and its inhabitants."
Since "heaven and earth," i.e., the world in its entirety is G-d's possession, what can there possibly be in "His world" that is not His possession? How can our Sages state that merely "Five possessions did the Holy One, blessed be He, make His very own in His world"?
Also to be understood is the following: The history of the Jewish people begins with Avraham, the first of the three Patriarchs. Why, then, is G-d's possession of Avraham considered a possession unto itself and not included within the more general statement that "the people of Israel are one possession"?
The expression "Five possessions did the Holy One, blessed be He, make His very own in His world," emphasizes that we are speaking here of five things as they are found within the world. That is to say, these five matters are not only G-d's possessions as they exist in an exalted state -- "above the world" -- but moreover, they retain their unique status as "G-d's possessions" even as they descended within the world.
So lofty are these five entities that the term kinyan, acquisition, is used to describe them: "Acquisition" denotes the transfer of an object from one domain to another without engendering any change at all in the object itself, there is merely the transfer of ownership from seller to buyer.
Although the entire world is most certainly G-d's possession, nevertheless, this reality is not noticeable within the world on its own:
Except for G-d's five "possessions," all matters within the world must undergo substantial change for them to be readily recognized as part of "His world"; only through the nullification, refinement and elevation of the world's corporeality do we recognize that G-d is their true essence.
G-d's five "possessions," however, are called "acquisitions," for even in their "physical" state, even after having "changed" their "domain," they are perpetually united with G-d, since the entire aspect of these five entities is to reveal G-dliness.
Thus, although the entire world is considered G-d's "possession," nevertheless it is only these five "acquisitions" that are immutable and need not be refined in order for them to be instantly recognized as "His possessions." This is why our Sages specifically state, "Five possessions -- 'acquisitions' -- did the Holy One, blessed be He, make His very own in His world," for these five differ from all the rest.
In light of the above, we also understand why G-d's possession and acquisition of Avraham is considered a possession unto itself and is not included within the more general statement that "the people of Israel is one possession":
The Midrash states that Avraham is deemed "possessor of heaven and earth," since Avraham made G-d known to the world's inhabitants, thereby "acquiring for G-d heaven and earth." G-d therefore told him, "I consider you as if you were a partner with Me in creation" -- "possessor of heaven and earth." In other words, Avraham's quintessence was that of revealing G-d's unity within the world itself, that created beings come to know Him.
This is why Avraham is enumerated as "one possession" and is not included within the more comprehensive "one possession" of the Jewish people:
"The people of Israel is one possession," alludes to the souls of each and every Jew; even as Jews descend within this world and are clothed within a body they remain "truly a part of G-d above" -- G-d's "acquisition" and "possession."
Avraham's "one possession," however, relates to his effect on the world; the fact that Avraham was able to bring about a recognition of G-dliness within created beings even prior to the giving of the Torah, points to Avraham's tremendous qualities and his unity with G-d.
So much so, that not only was Avraham not fazed by the entire world's opposition -- "The entire world was on one side and he was on the other," but moreover, "Avraham was 'one' ": Avraham drew down "G-d is One" even within the world. He did so by making the world itself cognizant of G-dliness -- "possessor of heaven and earth."
Based on Likkutei Sichos, Vol. XXXV, pp. 39-44.
- (Back to text) Sefer HaSichos 5702, p 30, HaYom Yom, p. 101.
- (Back to text) Avodah Zarah 9a.
- (Back to text) Shemos Rabbah, 12:3; Tanchuma, Va'eirah 15.
- (Back to text) Shabbos 88b.
- (Back to text) See Likkutei Sichos II, p. 302, et al.
- (Back to text) Bereishis Rabbah and Tanchuma, beginning of Noach.
- (Back to text) Bereishis 5:28ff; 6:8.
- (Back to text) See Torah Or, Lech Lecha 11c; Toras Chayim, ibid., 83d.
- (Back to text) See discourse titled Samach t'Samach 5657 [Sefer HaMaamarim 5657] p. 223ff.
- (Back to text) Avos 6:10.
- (Back to text) Tehillim 24:1.
- (Back to text) See Torah Or, Mishpatim, p. 75d.
- (Back to text) Midrash Rabbah, Bereishis 43:7.
- (Back to text) Sotah, 4b; Aggadas Bereishis, ch. 49.
- (Back to text) Midrash Rabbah, Bereishis, ibid.
- (Back to text) Tanya, beginning of ch. 2.
- (Back to text) See Biurei HaZohar of the Mitteler Rebbe (115b) and of the Tzemach Tzedek (p. 548). See also discourses titled Anochi and Panim b'Panim 5657 (in Hemshech 5666) et al.
- (Back to text) Midrash Rabbah, Bereishis, conclusion of ch. 42; Pesikta Rabasi ch. 33.
- (Back to text) Yechezkel 33:24.
- (Back to text) See also Midrash Rabbah, Bereishis (beginning of) 38:6.
- (Back to text) Or HaTorah (Ya'el Or), Tehillim p. 356.