Sing to God a new song, sing to the Eternal One, all the earth. – Psalm 96:1
From ReformJudaism.org https://reformjudaism.org/torah/portion/breishit
Berëshit (בְּרֵאשִׁית – In the Beginning) – Genesis 1:1-6:8
When God was about to create heaven and earth, the earth was a chaos, unformed, and on the chaotic waters’ face there was darkness. – Genesis 1:1-:2
- God creates the world and everything in it in six days and rests on the seventh. (1:1-2:3)
- Adam and Eve are placed in the Garden of Eden, where they eat the forbidden fruit and are subsequently exiled. (2:15-3:24)
- Adam and Eve have two sons, Cain and Abel. Cain kills his brother, Abel. (4:1-24)
- Adam and Eve have another child named Seth. The Torah lists the ten generations from Adam to Noah. (4:25-5:32)
- God regrets having created human beings and decides to destroy everything on earth, but Noah finds favor with God. (6:5-6:8)
From Wikipedia.org https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bereshit_(parashah)
The parashah and haftarah in Isaiah 42 both report God’s absolute power. Genesis 1:1–2:4 and Isaiah 42:5 both tell of God’s creation of heaven and earth. The haftarah in Isaiah 42:6–7, 16 echoes the word “light” (and God’s control of it) from Genesis 1:3–5, but puts the word to broader use. And the haftarah puts the idea of “opening . . . eyes” (in Isaiah 42:7) in more favorable light than does the parashah (in Genesis 3:5–7).
STRUGGLING WITH TORAH
From Wikipedia.org https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bereshit_(parashah)
B’reshith – Gen. 2:4-4:26
(בְּרֵאשִׁית — Hebrew for “in a beginning”)
In the parashah, God creates the heavens, the world, Adam and Eve, and Sabbath. A snake convinces Eve, who then invites Adam, to eat the fruit of tree of the knowledge of good and evil, which God had forbidden to them. So God curses them and expels them from the Garden of Eden. One of their sons, Cain, becomes the first murderer, killing his brother Abel out of jealousy. Adam and Eve have other children, whose descendants populate the Earth. Each generation becomes more and more degenerate until God, despairing, decides to destroy humanity. Only one man, Noah, finds God’s favor.
The triennial part of Parasha B’rë’shít contains the creation story most people think of when they think of the creation of humanity. The language of the second creation story is distinct from that found in the first creation story and clearly comes from a different source than the first. Besides the one of authorship, the story raises several questions.
What actually was the forbidden fruit? In art and popular imagination, it is depicted as an apple. Apples are indigenous to Eastern Europe. Given the area of the story’s origin, it is highly likely that it was some fruit indigenous to the Middle East. Perhaps a cherry, a fig, a grape, an olive or a plum? By the way, grapes are indigenous to both the Middle East and North America.
It also raises questions about humanity. While some religions see this as a story about the fall of mankind, Judaism sees it simply as a depiction of human nature. The idea that each of has a good inclination and an evil inclination can be tied to this.
Then we get to the story of Cain and Abel. Is it an ancient recounting of the transition from one kind of society to another? Or is it about the social conflict between farmers and shepherds? Which also leads to questions about the first murder and how it is depicted. Is the author trying to tell us that all murder is fratricide?
There is also the question of how long people are meant to live. With the exception of specific members of my immediate family, most people I know of die somewhere in their 70s and 80s. In light of that, setting life at 120 years seems an extraordinary length. Even the few that live past 100, most die well before 120. What does 120 represent?
Finally, there is the question of Noah. Does Noah portend a possible third creation story? We will explore that question when we get to Parasha Noach next week.
It seems that the insertion of these episodes after the first creation story is meant to present an alternative version rooted in a different or competing tradition, and meant to tell about one specific family and eventually its descendants. In discussion questions related to Jonathan Kirsch’s book, “King David: The Real Life of the Man Who Ruled Israel”, we find the following:
“One theory of biblical authorship proposes that the Bible began with the life story of David, and everything else was built up around David’s story…. Bible Scholar Gerhard Von Rad describes an ‘undersong’ of David’s story running throughout the Bible.” https://www.readinggroupguides.com/reviews/king-david/guide
In the end, what matters are the lessons to be learned from this story. For me, one of the lessons is that we are meant to be who and what we are, and to cooperate with one another to create a world of peace and harmony where all are free to be themselves. As I see it, the only real violation is taking someone’s life, everything else is forgivable.
ROSH CHODESH CHESHVAN
Begins at sundown on Saturday, October 17, 2020 and ends at nightfall on Monday, 19 October 2020. Cheshvan is the eighth month of the Hebrew calendar and the second of the civil calendar. Cheshvan is sometimes called Marcheshvan or “bitter Cheshvan” due to the absence of any holidays or fast days during it.
When a Hebrew calendar month is 30 days long, such as the current month of Tishri, day 30 is considered Rosh Chodesh of the next month. Then Rosh Chodesh is two days long: day 30 of the old month and day 1 of the new month.
From “Mishkan T’filah / A Reform Siddur”:
’ROSH CHODESH – FOR THE NEW MONTH p.519:
Our God and God of our ancestors, may the new month bring us goodness and blessing. May we have long life, peace, prosperity, a life exalted by love of Torah and reverence for the divine; a life in which the longings of our hearts are fulfilled for good.
We recite MI SHEBËRACH for the victims of brutality, abuse, fear, natural disasters, pandemics, violence, and war; for all those at home alone; for all those in need of physical, emotional, and mental healing. “R’fuah sh’lëmah” – a complete recovery!
We say KADDISH YATOM for those of our friends and families who have died and been buried this last week; those in the period of Sh’loshim (30 days since burial); those who have died in the last year; and those whose Yahrzeits/Anyos occur at this time; as well as the victims of brutality, disease, natural disasters, war and violence. We remember, too, those victims of the Shoah (Holocaust) who died at this time of year and have us to say “Kaddish” for them. “Zichronam liv’rachah” – May their memories be for blessing.
TORAH STUDY AND SHAZOOM
We will meet for Torah Study and Shazoom this evening, Friday, October 16, 2020. Being a part of, contributing to and connecting with Temple Kol Hamidbar helps us fulfill our three-fold purpose as a Beit Tefillah (House of Prayer), a Beit Midrash (House of Study) and a Beit Knesset (House of Community).
Zoom continues being updated for security and performance features. In some cases, there are extra steps to go through in order to join a meeting. Making sure you have the latest version of Zoom, please join us online this evening:
Topic: Torah Study
Time: Oct 16, 2020 06:00 PM Arizona
Shazoom – Erev Shabbat Service
Time: Oct 16, 2020 07:30 PM Arizona
To join the Torah Study and/or Shazoom click on the following link [you may need to copy it into your browser]:
Meeting ID: 725 1050 0854
Hint: The last character of the password is the number zero.
My Bar Mitzvah was fifty-four years ago – triple Chai.
Shabbat Shalom – Buen Shabbat!