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Torah Sparks- 5762

Torah Sparks- 5762

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Torah Sparks - Discussion Guide to the Weekly Torah Portion. Torah Sparks has tried to capture precious truths in each Shabbat Torah reading through quotations that offer insights and questions for open discussion by congregants in a synagogue, a study group or at home.
Torah Sparks - Discussion Guide to the Weekly Torah Portion. Torah Sparks has tried to capture precious truths in each Shabbat Torah reading through quotations that offer insights and questions for open discussion by congregants in a synagogue, a study group or at home.

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Published by: api-3811809 on Oct 19, 2008
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October 13, 2001/5762
Prepared by Rabbi David L. Blumenfeld, PhD
Department of Services to Affiliated Congregations

Annual Cycle: Genesis 1:1-6:8 (Hertz, p.2; Etz Hayim, p.3)
Triennial Cycle Year I: Genesis 1:1 - 2:3 (Hertz, p. 2; Etz Hayim, p.3)
Haftarah: Isaiah 42:5-43:10 (Hertz, p. 21; Etz Hayim, p.35)

This Shabbat\u2019s Torah Portion Summary
(1:1-2:3) The world is created in six days. The first Shabbat.
(2:4-25) The creation and, in particular, the creation of humanity. Adam and Eve
are placed in the Garden of Eden \u201cto till it and to tend it.\u201d
(3:1-7) The snake tempts the woman to eat of the forbidden fruit. She
persuades the man also to eat it. They become aware of their nakedness, and
they make clothing for themselves from fig leaves.
(3:8-24) God\u2019s first question of human beings: \u201cWhere are you?\u201d God punishes

the snake by making it crawl on its belly, and by the enmity of human beings;
the woman by the pains of childbirth; the man by alienation from the earth.
Expulsion from the Garden of Eden.

(4:1-15) Cain\u2019s murder of Abel and God\u2019s response.
(4:17-26) The descendants of Cain. The taunting song of Lamech. The birth of
Seth, and his son Enosh.
(5:1-6:8) The ten generations from Adam to Noah.
This Shabbat's Theme: "The Elusive Search for Truth"
Study Text:
\u201cIn the beginning God created..." (1:1)
Hebrew = BeresheeT (,)... barA (t)...ElohiM (n)

If we take the last three letters (aleph, mem, tav) of the very first three words of
the Torah (see above), we derive the Hebrew word, \u201cemet\u201d. So too, the first
word of the Ten Commandments begins with the letter aleph (anochi); the first
word of the Mishnah (me\u2019eimatai;) begins with the letter mem and the Gemara
of the Talmud begins with the letter tav in the word tanna. Thus, we learn that
Torah knowledge begins with a search for emet truth, as it is written \u201cYour word
is truth from the beginning\u201d(Ps.119:160) - A.Y. Greenberg, Torah Gems, p. 11.

Consideration of \u201cAbsolute Truth\u201d
A. The seal (signature) of the Holy One Praised Be He is truth.(Talm.
Shabbat 55a)
B. The world stands on three foundation stones: on truth, on justice and on
peace. (Shimon ben Gamliel, Pirke Avot, 1:18)

C. Keep far from falsehood... (Exod. 23:7) The Hebrew word for \u201cfalsehood\u201d
is sheker which is spelled shin, koof, resh. These three letters are next to
each other in the Hebrew alphabet. Accordingly, we have to \u201ckeep
falsehood afar\u201d by shattering sheker when it comes together as is its
natural tend ency. In contrast though, the three letters of the word emet -
\u201ctruth\u201d - are the furthest apart possible in the Hebrew alphabet. The aleph
is at the beginning, the tav is at the end and mem is in the very middle.
This teaches us that to reveal genuine truth, an extremely great effort on
our part is required.(Author)

D. The philosopher Emanuel Kant maintained that \u201cany lie was an abomination or, as it were, an annihilation of the dignity of man\u201d. Augustine and Aquinas held a similar view.

E. "Truth even unto its innermost parts\u201d (Motto of Brandeis University)
\u201cSparks\u201d for Discussion:
Is there such a thing as \u201cabsolute truth\u201d? What do you believe is absolutely true
in Judaism? Prove it.
Next Question: \u201cShall We Always Tell The Truth?\u201d
A. You shall not steal, neither shall you deal falsely, nor lie to one another.

B. Does the halakhah prohibit all forms of lying? Not at all... Jewish tradition
permits lying when the motive is altruistic... For example, it is permissible
to lie for the sake of peace. When Sarah heard she would have a son,
\u201cshe laughed to herself, saying, Now that I am withered, am I to have
enjoyment - with my husband so old? God changed Sarah\u2019s insulting
remark when repeating it to Abraham: \u201cShall I in truth bear a child, old as
I am?\u201d (Gen. 18:12-13) Similarly, it is permissible to stretch the truth
when praising an ugly bride at her wedding (Ketubot 16b-17a) and to
make a false vow to a robber or murderer (Mishnah Nedarim 3:4). Lastly,
in three things rabbis may deviate from the truth: regarding their
knowledge (so as not to boast), regarding their sexual relations with their
wives (out of modesty) and about their host (so that he will not be
inundated with freeloaders) - Bava Metzia 23b-24a. (D. Golinkin,

Responsa In A Moment, pp. 57-58)
\u201cSparks\u201d for Discussion:
What are we to conclude? That truth is relative to the situation? What are your
thoughts on \u201csituation ethics\u201d?
What is your opinion about... Telling the Truth to Terminal Patients?

A. Author Joan Gould wrote of her husband\u2019s struggle with cancer. One day, they went shopping for gifts and talked of the future. She asks the reader, \u201cWas I lying to him if I let him think his illness was under control? Was I pretending if we stopped to have lunch and talked of the future?\u201d Late one night, she relates, he rose and got a pill from the bathroom, to help him fall asleep. When he returned to bed he left the bathroom light on. When she got up to turn it off, he said, \u201cPlease don\u2019t. I\u2019ll be in the dark long


B. ...In theory, we may certainly conceal the truth from terminally ill patients if it is for their own good, since Judaism commands us to do everything to heal and preserve the life of the patient. The dilemma, therefore, is not \u201c may we lie to terminally ill patients\u201d, but rather \u201cis lying to terminally ill patients good or bad for them\u201d... (Golinkin, ibid.)

\u201cSparks\u201d for Discussion:

\u201cSome things are better left unsaid\u201d. Yet, shouldn\u2019t the terminally ill be told the
truth? Where do you stand on this matter for yourself? Would you want the

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