The midrash on the letter “beit” being the first letter of Torah/TaNaCh, and the letter through which the universe is created, is generally familiar, although it’s implications are often unexplored. Here’s a discussion that can add further depth to our understanding:

     “In Otiot d’Rabbi Akiva, the Sages say that when the Holy One, blessed be He, was about to create the world, the twenty-two letters of the Alef-Beit came and stood before Him. Each one requested, ‘Create the world with me.’ Eventually the letter beit came forward and said, ‘Master of the Universe, is it Your will to create Your world with me? For with me those who come to the world offer praise before You every day, as is said, ‘Baruch Hashem l’olam, amen v’amen’; ‘Barchu Hashem melachav,’ and so forth.’ The Holy One, blessed be He, immediately accepted this argument . . . and with her. . . created the world, as is said, ‘Bereishith bara…’ [1]

     The simple explanation of the midrash is that since ‘baruch’ starts with the letter beit, this letter indicates blessing. Rabbi Avraham ibn Ezra (1089 — 1164), however, objects to this. Rabbi Yehudah Loew (1525-1609), famous as the Maharal of Prague, quotes him as follows:

     ‘Harav Avraham ben Ezra of blessed memory forcefully questioned this midrash, saying, ‘How could [Hashem] begin [Creation] with beit because it contains blessing, when ‘bohu,’ ‘buka’ . . . and many other words denoting quite the opposite of blessing also start with beit?’

     To this claim, the Maharal retorts:

     “…beit itself is the blessing, for it is the beginning of increase, which is the essence of blessing. . . its numerical value is two, the first plural number. . . For the root of the word berachah is berech, all of whose letters represent the concept of two: beit in units, kaf in tens, and reish in hundreds, and thus beit itself is a sign of blessing.

     It emerges, therefore, that the word ‘berachah’ is not the reason for the importance of the letter beit, but rather the word indicates the importance of the letter due to the word’s special composition.”  [2]


[1] Bereishith/Genesis 1:1

[2] Hartman, Yehoshuah; translated by Yocheved Lavon; found on: