Tzvi Ilan ben Gita update: Ilan’s recovery continues at a great pace. He has been moved to an excellent rehabilitation clinic where he is returning more and more to his old self every day. He is speaking with greater clarity and word recall and is able to walk with less assistance.
Kli Yakar: Bereshit
After various stages of creation, including the animal kingdom, the Torah tells us:
“And God saw that it was good.”
The creation of Man is not accompanied by any such praise.
The Kli Yakar (see below for brief biography) finds it curious that both animals and Man are described in the Torah as “living souls”. He wonders why on one hand there is the equivalence of both Man and animals as living souls, while on the other hand the creation of animals was “good” in God’s eyes, while the creation of Man lacks any such reference.
The Kli Yakar answers that Man is the only creature that was brought into this world incomplete. Animals are born with all the innate instincts and physical characteristics that they need to grow and survive. They are born “good” as far as God is concerned. Whatever prowess or physical ability they possess reveals itself with no conscious effort on their part. They are perfect and complete creations.
Man on the other hand is far from complete. Man must go through an often grueling growth process of development and self-improvement in order to reach his potential. Only at the completion of man’s maturity can God determine if His creation “was good”.
In this New Year, may we continue to work on our self-development and reach the level of a “good” creation.
Chag Sameach and Shabbat Shalom,
To the Kli Yakar (biography below), and to my mother, Nira Spitz, on the opening of yet another exciting exhibition of her artwork.
Kli Yakar Biography
Ephraim son of Aaron was born in the city of Luntschitz in what is today central Poland around the year 1550. He studied under the famed Maharshal (Rabbi Shlomo Luriah) and became Rabbi of the city of Lvov where he served for 25 years.
From an early age he was recognized as a star orator and was renowned for his fiery sermons. In 1601, Rabbi Ephraim became deathly ill. During the course of his illness he added the name Shlomo to his name and thereafter signed his name Shlomo Ephraim. He also vowed that if he survived his illness he would compose a commentary to the Pentateuch.
Rabbi Shlomo Ephraim survived his illness and the very next year wrote and published his commentary, named Kli Yakar. The commentary became immediately popular throughout the Jewish world and was his most famous publication, to the point, as with many other great Rabbis, that he is now known simply as the Kli Yakar. More than 400 years later, the Kli Yakar remains popular and is printed alongside the commentary of Rashi and others in many Chumashim.
The year after the Kli Yakar’s publication, he was appointed Chief Rabbi of the great city of Prague, where he also served as Rosh Yeshiva and the Head of the Beit Din. Rabbi Shlomo Ephraim passed away in 1619. His son and other descendents followed in his footsteps, also holding the esteemed position of Chief Rabbi of Prague. Amongst his most famous students was Rabbi Yom Tov Lipman Heller, also known as Tosfot Yom Tov.