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B’reishis bara Elokim

Written by Oizer Alport

Dovid HaMelech writes in Tehillim (119:160) rosh d’var’cha emes – Your very first utterance is truth. The Baal HaTurim points out that the final letters of the first three words in the Torah spell the word emes – truth – hinting to the fundamental importance of the value of truth in Hashem’s eyes. Indeed, the Gemora in Yoma (69b) states that Hashem’s “seal” is emes. Further, the final letters of the last verse describing the creation (2:3) also spell the word emes, alluding to the fact that the universe was created with Hashem’s attribute of truth from beginning to end. Rabbeinu Bechaye points out that the first verse in the Torah contains every vowel sound except for one…

The shuruk is missing from this verse. He explains that this is because the letters which spell the word shuruk can also be rearranged to spell the word sheker – falsehood – and because Hashem created the world to be a place of truth, there was no room for a shuruk in describing the beginning of the Creation! It is not only the Written Torah which is emblazoned with Hashem’s seal of truth, but the Oral Torah is as well. The Aseres HaDibros begin with the letter aleph (anochi), the Mishnah begins with the letter mem (me’eimasai), and the Gemora starts with the letter tof (tanna), again spelling the word emes! The Vilna Gaon notes that it is not only the Torah itself which is encoded with Hashem’s seal, but even the great commentaries upon it are embossed with this powerful commitment to the truth. The Torah forbids (Vayikra 11:42) the consumption of all creeping creatures which slither on their bellies (gachon). Interestingly, Rashi renders the word “belly” as “innards” – me’ayim – which would seem to be anatomically imprecise, as beten would seem to be a more accurate translation. Further, the word gachon appears much earlier in the Torah (Bereishis 3:14), in reference to the punishment of the serpent which tempted Chava, yet Rashi felt no need to explain the meaning of the word until its appearance in Parshas Shemini. The Vilna Gaon beautifully explains that the Gemora in Kiddushin (30a) states the letter vov in the word gachon is the middle letter in the entire Torah. Rashi begins his commentary on the Torah with the letter aleph (amar Rav Yitzchok) and ends with the letter tof (asher shibarta). Rashi didn’t feel the need to explain the word gachon, or else he would have done so where it initially appeared. However, because this is the middle of the Torah, and therefore of his commentary, he wished to render it as a word beginning with the letter mem in order to hint that the entire Torah, along with his Divinely-inspired commentary, is emes – true – from the start to the middle to the very end!

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