Bereshit: G-d’s Signature
Whenever an author or artist completes his work, he makes a point of appending his signature to the work. Somewhere on the title page of a book or a corner of a painting, we will find the author’s signature.
In Parashat Bereshit, right at the beginning of the Torah, G-d puts His “signature” on the world’s creation. Our Sages tell us, “Hotamo Shel Ha’kadosh Baruch Hu Emet” – G-d’s signature is “Emet” – truth. The final letters of the first three words of the Torah – “Bereshit Bara Elokim” – are “Tav,” “Alef” and “Mem” – the letters of “Emet.” And the final three words of the creation story – “Bara Elokim La’asot” – likewise end with “Alef,” “Mem” and “Tav,” again spelling “Emet.”
The centrality of “Emet” might also explain the reason why the Torah begins with the letter “Bet,” rather than with the first letter of the alphabet – “Alef” – as we might have expected. The numerical value of “Emet” is 441, and when we add the digits (4+4+1) – a system called “Mispar Katan” – we arrive at 9. “Sheker” (“falsehood”), meanwhile, has the numerical value of 600, which results in a “Mispar Katan” of 6. When we add together the first three numbers – 1+2+3 – we arrive at 6, and we arrive at this sum when we add every series of three letters after that. For example, 4+5+6 equals 15, and the combined value of the digits is 6. Likewise, when we add 7+8+9, we arrive at 24, and the two digits combine to equal 6, and so forth. But if we start at the number 2, every three numbers combine to equal 9. Thus, 2+3+4=9, and then 5+6+7=18, and the two digits of 18 combine to equal 9, and so on. Hence, the Torah begins with the second letter, “Bet,” which has the numerical value of 2, rather than “Alef,” which has the value of 1, because 1 begins a process of “Sheker” (6), whereas 2 begins the process of “Emet” (9).
The Torah is the only purely “true” book, because it was written by the Almighty, whose signature is truth. There is no other book in the world that we cannot question at all. Even honest and reputable publications contain errors. I recall once a local publication ran a story about a brief, three-day trip that I once took. I assume this wasn’t intentional, but the article was riddled with mistakes and inaccuracies. Anything we ever read or hear must be taken with some degree of skepticism, because the writer or speaker is flawed and imperfect, and any information he conveys reflects, to one degree or another, his personal biases and agendas. But the Torah is perfectly true. We can and must accept every single word fully, wholeheartedly and unhesitatingly.
Each year, when we start the Torah anew, we must recognize how fortunate we are to be able to study and practice the ultimate truth, the Torah, which expresses the wisdom of the Master of the world, whose signature is “Emet.”