Bereshit-The Name of the Parsha


Why does the Torah begin with the second letter of the Hebrew alphabet, beis (ב), and not the first letter, alef (א)?


The Jerusalem Talmud suggests that since (ב) is the first letter of the word bracha, meaning "blessing" therfore the Tora starts with a beis.


Arn't there many positive words in Hebrew that begins with an alef, and many negative words that begin with beis? Why should beis for "blessing" be the first letter of the tora?


The fact that the Torah begins with the second letter of the Hebrew alphabet, beis, indicates that reading the text is actually the second phase of Torah study.

Before a person starts learning Torah, he needs to prepare himself.

Torah study is somewhat a paradox. On one hand, it is mitzva, that connects a person to God and - as with any mitzva - the person needs to be aware of this fact to achieve a full "connection."

On the other hand, if a person actually thinks about God while he is studying Torah, he will not be able to concentrate on the what he is learning.

The solution to this problem is through preparation. Before even opening the book, a person should take a few moments to reflect that he is about to study God's wisdom that has been "condensed" into humanly intelligible form. He is about to bind his mind into a total union with God.

Of course, when he actually studies the Torah, he will not be able to meditate on this fact. Therefor, it is crucial that a person has the correct intentions before he begins.

Therfore the Torah begins with beis, to hint to its reader, "the study is only the second phase of this mitzva".

Through studying Torah with appropriate preparations blessings will come into a person's life. Thus, the Jerusalem Talmud taught that the beis at the beginning of the Torah stand for bracha-blessing.

(Based on Likkutei Sichos vol. 15, pp. 1ff; ibid. p. 326)



  • wow!
    Said Chayale, February 2, 2021, 7:16 AM