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    Created with a Bet – B’reshit

    Why does the Torah begin with bet, the second letter, and not with alef? Here are some midrashic explanations:

    1. Bet is the first letter of b’rachah, a blessing; alef is the first letter of ararah, a curse. It was a blessing for the world to have come into being, but we have to ensure we appreciate the blessing.

    2. Bet is closed on three sides (behind, above and below) and only open on one (ahead). By way of contrast, alef is open on all four sides. Man’s task is not to delve into what lies behind, above or below as much as to concentrate on what lies ahead.

    3. Bet has the numerical value of 2, whilst alef is 1, to indicate that there are two worlds – this world and the World to Come, and we have to act in this world in a way that will merit the next world.

    4. Though the Torah begins with bet, alef need not feel slighted. God said to the alef, “When I give the Torah on Sinai, it will begin with you as the first letter of Anochi – ‘I am the Lord your God'”.

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