For the week ending 3 October 2020 / 15 Tishri 5781

Parashat 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 Shabbat, 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.


Bereishet - The Sweetest Thing

“And G-d said, 'Let us make man in Our image, after Our likeness." (1:26)

Here's a thought for when you “dip the apple in the honey.” Apparently, a honey-bee's life is around forty days long. In that brief span, it collects pollen sufficient for but one teaspoon of honey. At no point in that honey-bee's life does it think of the tremendous effort expended for such a limited outcome. Like everything in Hashem's world, the bee does its work because, on its level of understanding, that is its purpose, that's what it's here for. The sun doesn't think about shining, the ocean waves do not think about their crashing assault on the beach and the trapdoor spider has no regrets as it sets its lure to seduce its unwary prey.

Everything is this creation does the bidding of its Creator without a second thought. With one exception — Man. Man is the only creation capable of rebellion. Man is the only creature with choice — “in Our image," like Hashem, so to speak. Maybe that's one of the ways we can understand the dictum of our Sages that a person should say to himself, “The world was created for me.” (Sanhedrin 37a) At every second of my life I have the ability to validate this creation of the world by choosing to serve my Creator with no less commitment than a honey bee.

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