shiur for parashas Bereishis 5780
by Tzvi Schnee
The first name of G-d that appears in the Torah is Elokim, the second is YHVH. The first name represents justice, the second mercy. The second name does not appear until after Adam’s creation is mentioned for a second time in Torah, beginning in chapter two. Therefore, it may be understood, that G-d’s name, YHVH represents mercy towards man. Chazal explain that man would not have been able to survive, according to the Attribute of Justice. So the Attribute of Mercy also played a role in the beginning of creation, in order to balance justice with mercy.
Through H’Shem’s Attribute of mercy, teshuvah (repentance), i.e., the forgiveness of sins is offered to mankind. This is built into the fabric of existence, as noted in the Talmud (Nedarim 39b), that teshuvah was created before the world, based on the proximity of the following pasukim (verses): “Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever Thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, Thou art God. Thou turnest man to contrition; And sayest: ‘Return, ye children of men'” (Psalm 90:2-3, JPS).
It is as if H’Shem, Who knows past, present and future, used His foresight to prepare teshuvah (repentance) as the remedy, before the sickness (aveiros; i.e., sin). Sin separates us from G-d: “Your iniquities have separated between you and your G-d, and your sins have hid His face from you, that He will not hear” (Isaiah 59:2, JPS 1917 Tanach).
Yet, through teshuvah – a turning towards G-d in our lives – our connection with G-d may be restored; His Attribute of Mercy permits this restoration. Thus, because of man’s frailities, G-d created Chesed (Mercy), knowing that mankind would need to be shown leniency when being judgded according to the Attribute of Justice.
In reflecting on creation, it may become apparent that all that was created during the first six days provides man with the perfect environment for spiritual as well as material needs. Even a safety net when we fall – teshuvah, as a means to stand upright. “For a righteous man falleth seven times, and riseth up again” (Proverbs 24:16, JPS).