Torah Weekly

For the week ending 6 October 2007 / 24 Tishri 5768

Parshat Bereishet

by Rabbi Yaakov Asher Sinclair -
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In the beginning, G-d creates the entire universe, including time itself, out of nothingness. This process of creation continues for six days. On the seventh day, G-d rests, bringing into existence the spiritual universe of Shabbos, which returns to us every seven days. Adam and Chava - the Human pair - are placed in the Garden of Eden. Chava is enticed by the serpent to eat from the forbidden fruit of the "Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil," and in turn gives the fruit to Adam. By absorbing "sin," Adam and Chava render themselves incapable of remaining in the spiritual paradise of Eden and are banished. Death and hard work (both physical and spiritual) now enter the world, together with pain in childbirth. Now begins the struggle to correct the sin of Adam and Chava, which will be the main subject of world history. Cain and Hevel, the first two children of Adam and Chava, bring offerings to G-d. Hevel gives the finest of his flock, and his offering is accepted, but Cain gives inferior produce and his offering is rejected. In the ensuing quarrel, Cain kills Hevel and is condemned to wander the earth. The Torah traces the genealogy of the other children of Adam and Chava, and the descendants of Cain until the birth of Noach. After the death of Sheis, Mankind descends into evil, and G-d decides that He will blot out Man in a flood which will deluge the world. However, one man, Noach, finds favor with G-d.


How to Perform a Miracle

“In the Beginning…” (1:1)

There’s an old saying about building a house that goes, “The first ninety percent of the work takes ninety percent of the time, and the remaining ten percent of the work takes the other ninety percent of the time.”

When considering any task, we blithely assume that all we need is to do this and do this and do this and then — then it’ll be finished; our project, in all its glory, will spring suddenly into existence. So often we become frustrated when things don’t go according to plan.

But if you think about it, why should they?

We assume that the actual segues from the potential; that it’s all one system. In reality, plans exist in a different dimension to implementation. The gap between preparation and execution, potential and actual, is as cavernous as the gap between dreams and the waking world.

The fact that things have been done in the past, buildings built, ships constructed, records recorded and paintings painted — even in their trillions — does not lessen the fact that bringing something from the world of could-be into the world of is, is a leap of dimension, a change of magnitude.

In other words — a miracle.

The Jewish year has two beginnings. The first of Tishrei, Rosh Hashana, is known as the beginning of the new year; however, the first of Nissan is also called the beginning of the year.

How can there be two beginnings to something?

Rosh Hashana is the beginning of the year spiritually. This was the day when God thought to create existence. This is why we refer to Rosh Hashana as harat olam, the day of the world’s conception. God “conceived” the world on Rosh Hashana, however the first of Nissan is the day that the world became a physical existence. Thus Nissan is related to the word nitzan, which means ‘first bloom’. Just as the first bloom is the beginning of the completed state of the flower, so Nissan marks the first bloom of existence. Thus Nissan is always in the Spring when new life ‘springs’ forth, blooming from the earth.

After the original creation ex nihilo, G-d does not bring anything new into existence; rather He forms and re-forms, using the existing building blocks of creation. Anything we manage to create uses pre-fabricated pieces of existence in new and different permutations.

With one exception.

The process of actualizing our thoughts and aspirations, of giving substance to our dreams, is akin to God ‘thinking’ to create the world and then bringing His thoughts to fruition.

When we manage to transform a concept into a reality, we are imitating G-d actualizing His ‘thoughts’ to bring existence of out total nothingness.

Maybe we should remember that we just performed a miracle.

  • Sources: Tosefot Rosh Hashana, 27a; Shir Hashirim 6:11; Ramban Bereshet 1:1

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