In the beginning of God’s creating… (1:1)

God began the Torah with the word Bereishis – in the beginning – which starts with the Hebrew letter Beis. The Midrash teaches that the first Hebrew letter Aleph was dissatisfied that it had been passed over. It complained, “I am the very first letter and yet I was left out at the beginning of the Torah!” God promised the Aleph, “You will see justice done. When I give the Torah to my children at Mount Sinai, I shall commence with the letter Aleph.” When God gave the Ten Commandments to the Jewish people He placed an Aleph at the beginning: Anochi – I am the Lord your God….

Why did God ignore the Aleph at the beginning of the Torah, only reinstating it to its proper position when giving the Torah to the Jewish nation?

Living in the created physical world, we tend to give priority to our physical needs. We make sure to find a good job, a nice home, and as many conveniences as possible. Only once these points are settled, we try to find a shul or yeshiva in which to learn Torah and pray, regardless of our actual standards – near where we live. We attach the “Aleph” – the primary concern – to the attainment of a satisfactory material standard of living. The Torah is relegated to “Beis”, secondary rank. However, as the Mishnah1 states: learning Torah must be man’s primary occupation. One’s work schedule should be designed to accommodate one’s Torah learning, not vice versa. God therefore left out the Aleph, and deliberately prefaced the count of the six days of creation of the physical world with a Beis. The “Aleph”, our primary concern, must be for the Torah.2

NOTES

1. Pirkei Avos, 1:15, with explanation of Rav
2. Oznayim Latorah 1:1 (Quoted in the Midrash says)