Parashat Bereishit


Parashat Bereishit

This Shabbat we return to the book of Genesis and read the first Torah portion. The account of creation is foundational for one understanding what HaShem wants to do in his or her life. The first word, Bereishit, is related to time.  We know that G-d transcends all things.  Therefore, when the text says “In the beginning…,” to what is this referring?  The answer is the beginning of time from a human perspective.  The story of creation focuses on humanity’s entrance into the world which HaShem created.  The book of Ephesians chapter 1 and verse 4 reveals that G-d chose us in Messiah before the foundation of the world was laid.  Most scholars interpret this to mean that G-d created all human souls prior to the creation of the world.  Because our bodies are not us, rather it is the soul who is the real individual, humanity existed in what scholars call the “otzar haneshamot” (storehouse of souls) in the state of harmony with G-d.  But now, G-d was going to put our souls in a body and place them in the “lower world”, i.e. on earth.  How would this affect our relationship with G-d and how were we to cope with this change?

The biblical account of creation reveals instruction to mankind on how one can find harmony with G-d.  The opening verses of Genesis 1 offer counsel for what man’s state would be after Adam and Eve sinned in the garden.  Notice that verse one speaks about G-d creating the heavens and the earth.  From this verse, one learns an important truth.  Heaven is mentioned first and therefore has a priority.  We say our Father in heaven therefore heaven is on a higher spiritual level than earth.  Even though it is obvious that G-d dwells in all places there is a special scriptural connection between heaven and G-d, while man’s domain is upon the earth.

From the second verse we are informed that it is only the earth whose status was in chaos (tohu va’vohu).  This Hebrew word means simply “lacking order”.  G-d reveals this truth to say to mankind that our lives lack proper order.  The question which has to be answered is:  How do we find G-d’s order for our lives?  Verse two ends with an important statement.  Scripture reveals that the Spirit of G-d was moving above the waters.  The Hebrew word translated “moving” or often times “hovering” implies a shaking.  Hebrew scholars say that this word reveals a shaking or trembling as a result of power.  A plane, as it revs up its engine before moving down the runway, shakes because of the power that is about to be released.  Hence, scripture is revealing the potential that the Spirit of G-d is going to release to creation.  In verse three, we see the change being brought into creation.  G-d is going to bring His divine order into this world.  How does the scripture reveal that G-d does this?  G-d speaks and thus it is; hence, the emphasis on the Word of G-d.

Humanity must realize that our lives will lack G-d’s order unless we begin to utilize the Word of G-d.  Many times in the scripture the Word of G-d is spoken of as light.  The idea here is illumination.  It is only G-d’s word that can illuminate our lives so that a G-dly order is brought to it.  Therefore it is no accident that the first thing G-d creates through His spoken word is light.  This light represents a divine   understanding.  In other words, it is seeing things from G-d’s perspective.  If one does not know G-d’s viewpoint, his life will be in chaos, i.e., lack the proper order.  In verse four, G-d makes a distinction between light and darkness.  Since we learned that light is a divine understanding, therefore darkness must be referring to a lack of G-d’s perspective.  Without basing one’s life on the Word of G-d, a person will be in darkness.  This relates to the inability to see, i.e. comprehend, where he is, and what is going on around him, etc.  The sad fact is, most people’s lives do not reflect a divine order, but speak to the fact that they are in a position where they cannot discern truth from error, good from bad, or the like.  This is why the most common feeling that people have concerning their life is frustration.

As we begin the new Torah reading, ask yourself what is the condition of the inner you.  Do you sense intimacy with G-d or are you frustrated with your life.  If your answer is the latter, it is probably because you have failed to make the proper decisions which will order your life according to G-d’s plan for it.  Frustration may very well be the Holy Spirit hovering over you and inviting you to utilize His presence and power through the illumination of the Word of G-d to bring the changes that G-d seeks to make in you.

Shabbat Shalom

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One Comment on “Parashat Bereishit”

  1. Excellent commentary Baruch
    your insight and analysis seems to be right on. I can only pray that your right about the frustration that is the Ruach HaKodesh inviting us. to utilize His presence and power through the illumination of his word. I welcome your challenge to look at ourselves with honesty and sobriety.

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