This Shabbat:

Friday Candle Lighting: 7:47 PM

Shabbat Ends: 8:47 PM

Torah Message:

Hit By an Angel

“These are the words…” (1:1)

The Midrash says, “There is no blade of grass in the field that grows unless a malach (spiritual messenger/angel) stands over it, hits it, and says ‘Grow!’ ”

Why does the malach need to hit the blade of grass? Wouldn’t some less violent form of encouragement suffice?

In Hebrew the word for “earth” is EretzEretz can be read as arutz — “I will run.” This world is always running forward. Running to a place beyond this world. Eretz is also related to ratzon, meaning “will” or “desire.” What a person desires, what he wills, he “runs” toward.

This world is a world of trying, of striving to reach beyond this world. The word for “heaven” in Hebrew is Shamayim, from the root sham, which means “there.” Literally, Shamayim means “theres,” in the plural. Sham-im. Heaven is the sum total of all the “theres” that we can ever run to.

In other words, Shamayim is the ideal, the perfect form of everything in this world. Things in this world are not in a perfected state — they are still in their inchoate form.

One of the most difficult things in this world is to change. To become more than we are. To realize our true potential. We don’t want to change. We’d rather sit by the pool and watch the water-lilies float to-and-fro. Any true change is painful.

The realization of the discrepancy between what we are and what we could be is like being hit by a malach.

Rashi and Onkelos both teach that the place names in verses one and two of this week’s Torah portion are “code words” for the sins that took place at those places. Direct rebuke is rarely effective. It is much better to hint at the problem and let the listener feel the angel hitting him.