Wow what a geshmak! We are starting Parshas Bereishis once more, a new beginning for everyone. I just want you to know that I don’t use the word geshmak freely or lightly because by doing so one can get very distorted concepts in his head. Rav Hutner ztl once remarked that one should not use certain adjectives unilaterally without discretion for that can bring about misconceptions which can compromise one’s ruchniyus. For example, he brings the Yiddish word shteig which means to grow and flourish. It is primarily used to describe one’s developmental ascent in Torah and Yiddishkeit. Some people use the same word for business success such as my business is shteiging. The problem with this is that when I apply the word shteig to learning it has lost its impact. When a business is successful this means that one is making more than he needs, the profits are in excess and the bounty gleaned from the business is more than a person requires. By describing the shteiging of Torah in the same value frame, one has thereby diminished Torah learning and closeness to Hashem with a secular perspective. כי הם חיינו Torah is life. Every breath one breaths is necessary to live. There is no luxury with life itself for on every individual breath we must praise Hashem “כל הנשמה תהלל קה” על כל נשימה ונשימה תהלל קה . By mixing the language of חול and קודש we compromise our perspective of קודש . Learning as much as one can has become a luxury and not a necessity just like a shteiging business chas veshalom.
Rav Hutner writes that in order not to fall into this trap, the act of taking tithes is called תרומה in contrast to picking up an object to make an acquisition which Chazal called הגבהה. In Parshas Bereishis we have the עץ החיים ועץ הדעת . Torah is the Aitz Hachayim Tree of Life in contrast to the Aitz Hadaas of good and evil. We must learn not to mix terms of holiness and mundane together for that will deflate the preciousness of holiness by using the same description.
Let us return to this Yiddish word גשמעק . If you google it you will come up with similar definitions such a pleasurable, yummy, delicious, delightful, wow, amazing. Wow and amazing are not on the same level as yummy for the tummy, delicious and pleasurable. If we will constantly use this word geshmakto describe a feast of food even if was in the content of a Kiddush with unlimited Lechayims, a good swim, a reunion at a party etc. we are associating and cheapening the word to relate to descriptions of physical experiences. The effect of such carelessness when used afterwards to apply to a Simchas Torah, a kumzitz of inspiration and shiur, we are debasing the value of its possible impact of changing effects upon ourselves. When we relate to others even our children how “geshmak” a certain experience was they might interpret the experience with the concept of geshmak that they personally use and understand. This might not get them excited enough to take the jump and try it. It would be advisable for the recipients of your information to hear a better related word of description such as life nourishing, insightful, fulfilling, meaningful etc.
It disturbs me when I hear someone eating a delicious kugel and remarking this is Olam Habah. That person would definitely be shocked to find that after 120 years his place in Olam Habah is in the company of endless varieties of kugels to satisfy every taste, mood, and whim. After all, that was his repeated expression of his future eternal reward which is the purpose of creation – OlamHabah.
Meanwhile let us get down to understanding the deeper interpretation of geshmak so when we use that word next time it will be sacred in a deep way. When the parsha speaks about the creation of Man he is called אדם . The sefarim write that אדם is to be interpreted also as a verb – אדמה I will be similar to (Hashem) by emulating His ways. Since Man was created בצלם אלקים , it was the for the end goal of copying Hashem’s middos in every possible way. However, we find that later on during the parsha a new name is introduced for Man and that is איש . This title only surfaces in the creation of Adam’s wife Chavah when he calls his wife אשה because she was created from him who is called .איש Why all of a sudden are we introduced with a second description of Man the Ish?
We like to suggest that the second name איש appears is because it foretells about the future downfall of Adam after he will eat from the Aitz Hadaas. That tragedy came about because Chava the “Isha” was seduced by the Nachashand she gave the fruit to Adam in order that he should meet the same fate lest he will live and marry another woman (Rashi). This pshat in Chazal is alluded to in the words (Bereishis 3,6) ותתן גם לאשה she gave also to her husband to eat. However, the wordאשה can also be interpreted as the woman, alluding to the possibility that Adam by not eating the fruit will live and marry another woman.
Before the chait אדם possessed the title of אדם hand made from earth by Hashem. Now after the chait, he has a new mission to strive to live with constant consciousness of Hashem and His endless chesed towards Man. This new mission is hinted in the very letters of איש which is the acronym of the passuk through which every Yid fulfills the mitzvah of קבלת עול מלכות שמיםwith three recitals every day. For the acronym of the words שמע ישראל יהו’ אלקינו יהו’ אחד spell איש . Adam before the sin did not need to push for such a consciousness since that was the natural state of his being. However, after the chait he is called איש for he must now constantly accept the yolk of heaven upon himself lest he will fall prey to sin against his creator.
This can explain why when we say the Shema we place our hand over our eyes. Chazal say that the body of אדם originally before the chait would radiate like אור but after the chait that light disappeared and instead became עור skin. The Sfas Emes writes that this descent from אור to עור also meant that man’s perception of emes was tainted and became opaque. For we find the word עורmeaning skin, is the same word as eevair meaning blind. With the eating from the Aitz Hadaas the purpose and mission of life has been compromised in man’s head and heart. It is through קבלת עול מלכות שמים daily that we can seek the emes of creation and reroute ourselves on the correct pathway to Hashem. We are saying the Shma in order to repair the state of איש who after אדם took the Forbidden Fruit he became blinded by the yetzer harah who entered his being.
This second role of Man is alluded to in the first word of the Torah ב-ראשית which stands for two beginnings. One mission was from the moment he was created being anאדם prior to the chait, and the second being an איש after the chait. One before when the yetzer harah resided outside of himself, and the other when the yetzer hara entered within him. But even after the chait in the state of an איש one can still attain the level of a malach who is also called איש as the passuk says ויאבק איש עמו and a man wrestled with Yaakov who was the malach Gavriel as Chazal tell us.
In the compromised state of איש we have the letters of אשfire. The yetzer harapossesses an earthly fire of passion and lust towards earthliness, in contrast to a malach which possesses a heavenly fire אש that doesn’t consume, but instead enlightens. Everyone has the bechirah to choose which fire is going to lead his life through the darkness and maze of Olam Hazeh.
In the word איש we also find the letters of שיא which depicts an utmost height level and record score. Man who is called איש was created to break records especially after the chait of Aitz Hadaas. The mission of carrying the heavenly torch or the Olympic torch, are both symbols of Man’s ambition and striving to break the highest performed record. The evil Satanic fire is to build muscles and train to compete in order for your body to break yours or someone else’s body record achievement even if it involves the ludicrous amount of hot dogs that one can eat within a minute. In contrast, one can choose to carry throughout his life 24/7 the אש דת of heaven, an exercise where he is challenged daily to break his own record in ruchniyus and tikkun hamiddos. We find the wrong type of record breaking with Chava who said to Hashem in defense of her transgression”הנחש השיאני” the Snake tricked me into eating. It edged me on to be the first human to break the Supreme record of Hashem who up until now was the exclusive Being who had the knowledge of טוב ורע .
During the Yom Tov Shemoneh Esrais we say והשיאנו ה’ אלקינו את ברכת מועדיךload us on with the blessings of the Yom Tov. According to our interpretation we can say that the meaning is that with the renewed strength that we received from the berachos and avodah during the Yom Tov we beseech והשיאנו help us beat the previous records set concerning our devotion to you Hashem. We cannot go through a Yom Tov and remain on the same level without changing and upgrading to a higher level of commitment to our relationship with Hashem. New exquisite recipes or clothing cannot achieve attainment of Hashem’s desired goals.
The word בראשית is the acronym ראשון בכל בקר תקרא שמע ישראל יהו’ אלקינו יהו’ אחד This means that one is directed to start the morning with first reading the שמע and accept upon himself the yoke of Heaven. With this reading he becomes super charged to enter the day invigorated and enthused to serve Hashem with all his heart soul and might. But even that wears off and we must recite it again at night and before we go to sleep in order to remind and recommit ourselves to life’s true mission that is not a man – made fabrication to satiate one’s lustfulness, but rather divinely transmitted.
The last Mishna in Uktzin says להנחיל לאוהבי יש I will give to those who love me שי worlds the gematriah of three hundred and ten. The remez of three hundred and ten worlds hints to the acceptance of reciting and reflecting upon the שמע ישראל which is the acronym of שמע ישראל. The word איש has within it the letters of שי and it sends the message that even in the state after the sin one can acquire all these worlds. By taking upon ourselves the yoke of heaven lovingly, we have not only a geshmak life in this world but also an even more geshmaker life in the next world. When משיח will come we will have taken the state of איש back to אדם before the chait. The gematriah of אדם איש including the two words equal .משיח
Now I can reveal to you the true source and meaning of the word גשמעק . Read it backwards and you will find the acronymקבלת עול מלכות שמים ג . The greatest geshmak one can have is to realize that the most incredible opportunity for man while he is alive is to accept upon himself Hashem’s yoke three times daily. Through this act alone he can feel a wow in his active daily life by knowing that as a finite being he is given the other worldly opportunity to bond a relationship with the Infinite אין סוף . You will probably ask why is גשמעק read backwards. The answer is that as one grows older one begins to appreciate events that happened to him even though during the experience itself, he did not see it as geshmak at all. Retroactively he begins to appreciate them. So too in Olam Habah שמחנו כימות עניתני . our emunah is that the challenges we underwent and undertook upon ourselves, even though at the time they were not so geshmak, will transform into the most super charged out of this world geshmaker experience for eternity. For us that is an incomprehensible Wow! Our emunah however can take us there if we accept Hashem’s other worldly gift.