Parashat Bereshit // “In the Beginning”

- ס א ל -

What is the source of abundance on earth?

The greatest creation tale of all times 

“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good… And the evening and the morning were the first day” Genesis 1:1 – 5

  • Bereshit – or “Genesis” – is the greatest tale ever written about the origin of the universe. It presents man as a creative and influential agent who takes an active part in building the world. Man’s partnership with God compels us to take responsibility and work to constantly improve God’s creation. “And the earth was desolate and void” (Genesis 1:2). Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzato explains: “First it was created and afterwards destroyed” Since light can only be created after a downfall, it is unsurprising that evening was created before morning (Genesis 1:5).
  • The primordial state of creation is voidness and desolation. It follows that voidness and desolation are an essential and positive aspect of life – and a prerequisite for creating a new reality. In order for perfection to take form, the present situation must collapse.
  • Light is the most refined spiritual element; it manifests in the physical world yet nonetheless manages to retain its sublime nature. The heavens and earth represent the spiritual and physical worlds.

Adam escapes his responsibilities and is scolded by God  

“And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou? And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself… Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat? And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat. And the LORD God said unto the woman, What is this that thou hast done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat” Genesis 3:9 – 13

  • The Tractate of Avot (1:1) states: “Be patient in the administration of justice, raise many disciples, and make a fence around the Torah.” The proverbial “fence” is a protective shield guarding against sinful behavior. Just as the serpent shrewdly tricks Eve, our evil instinct will always try to entice us. Adam and Eve’s mistake is that they follow their eyes instead of their ears. When we fall prey to appearances, we empower our ego and weaken our inner strength.

Pearls of Divine Wisdom: In the Beginning

  • We are creations of the light. We are alive by our own choice and we struggle daily with our choices. Our souls yearn to return to the place from where they came – infinite light, the source of all abundance.
  • We are in a constant battle with our ego – our pursuits of honor, status, temporal pleasures, and thrills; our desire to be powerful over others; our sense of superiority and inferiority. Humility is the most powerful resource available to us in this struggle. 
  • We always have a choice – even if that choice is to eat from the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Our actions influence our environment. In order to emulate the role of our Creator, we can choose to share our blessings with others and be creative, open, active, and hard-working. 
  • During the creation of the world, night preceded day. This teaches us that light can only arise amidst chaos – and is the reason we need not fear adversity, failure, or heartbreak. These seemingly negative elements in our lives are in fact essential to the process of creation and renewal. 
  • Good is embedded in every single thing and occurrence. We are blessed when we recognize that and we suffer when we do not. This is a choice that every person must make – and we should therefore always do our best to make the right choices. 

Responsibility is knowing that we are the cause of our circumstances; irresponsibility is blaming others for our situation.