What do the Rabbis say about the meaning of the beginning of the Tanach – specifically, do they read the first verse as a kind of overview of creation (since Shamayim and Aretz did not exist before light – I know Rashi says that this indicates that we can't read the creation story as indicating the order of creation), or as a literal creation of the chaos that is described in the next verse?

I ask this because I was thinking about the beginning of the Tanach, and realized that Breishit 1:2 begins with a vav that's meaning was unclear to me.

  • I think Nachmanides takes a sequential approach, similar to your description of primordial chaos.
    – Baby Seal
    Commented Mar 26, 2014 at 20:05
  • Which rabbis are you referring to? Amora'im, Rishonim, or modern-day rabbis?
    – Ypnypn
    Commented Mar 27, 2014 at 3:42
  • @Ypnypn I'm not too specific, although I'd prefer older sources to more modern ones
    – Daniel
    Commented Mar 27, 2014 at 15:38

1 Answer 1


I think it's just an opening that sums the whole story, like in newspaper - giving the title and then going through the detail. and the vav is appearing all over the Tora like "Vayomer Hashem El Moshe" and in meny other places.

I like the Rashi on that pasuk he says that because Elohim created the Aretz he can give it to any one he wants therefore to the Israelis after the Cnaanim.

And even nowdays

  • The vav here isn't the same vav as in other places – things like Vayomer indicate one event that succeeds another and the vav is part of the grammatical form, but here it isn't...
    – Daniel
    Commented Mar 26, 2014 at 21:15
  • look at Bereshit 7:6 (Parashat Noach)" ...Vehamabul Haya Maim Al HaAretz" I think this Va is more like the Va of 1:2. you can see that the begining of the pasuk is a diffrent issue.
    – yossico
    Commented Mar 26, 2014 at 21:36
  • Yes, that is much more similar, although I'd think the vav in v'noach is more similar, since it actually begins the pasuk.
    – Daniel
    Commented Mar 26, 2014 at 21:44
  • Dont forget that the Psukim was invented after the tora was on humans hands so they are quite the same va'vs
    – yossico
    Commented Mar 26, 2014 at 21:51
  • Why are the downvotes?!?! - comment if you do downvote - Veahavta LeReacha Kamocha
    – yossico
    Commented Mar 27, 2014 at 8:15

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