Parshas Bereishis

“In the beginning when ד׳ created the Heavens and the Earth” Bereishis 1:1

Ever wondered why the Torah starts with the letter ״ב״? Whatever happened to good old ״א״? Well, you’re not the only one. The Baal Haturim brings Medrashim that pose three answers. First of all, the letter ב represents ברכה – blessing, while the letter א represents ארירה (the opposite of blessing). Hashem in His infinite wisdom said, let’s start with a ב – with a blessing, and give this world a shot at existence. Alternatively, ב is the second letter of the א – ב, and is therefore representative of the two worlds that Hashem created, our material world and the world to come. Finally, the Baal Haturim concludes that the ב of בראשית may be alluding to the two parts of the Torah, תורה שבכתב ותורה שבעל פה – The written law and the oral law. This is to remind us that it is only in the merit of the Torah and the ones who learn and abide by it’s laws that this world was created.

The מגיד תעלומה adds that the תורה שבכתב starts with the letter ״ב״ of ״בראשית״, but the תורה שבעל פה begins with the ״מ״ of ״מאימתי קורין את שמע״. If you put these two letters together you get the word ״בם״, and the Gemara in Yoma (יט) explains that the words of the pasuk in Shema of ״ודברת בם״ – “you shall speak them”, teach us that we should speak only the words of the Torah and refrain from muttering idle speech.

The ב of בראשית is setting a precedent and teaching us that as we begin to read the Torah anew this Shabbos and prepare for the long winter ahead, we should busy ourselves with the words of תורה שבכתב ותורה שבעל פה and not with דברים בטלים – words of void.

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