From ReformJudaism.org https://reformjudaism.org/torah/portion/breishit
Berëshit (בְּרֵאשִׁית – Hebrew for “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).
From ReformJudaism.org https://reformjudaism.org/torah/portion/breishit
By: Rabbi Stacy Rigler
STRUGGLING WITH TORAH and REFLECTION
For Torah Study this week, instead of the portion from B’rë’shít that is read on this Shabbat, we will read the Haftarah (a selection from the prophets) following this portion, Isaiah 42:5-21. You can read this week’s Torah Portion at https://www.sefaria.org/Genesis.1.1-6.8, and the Haftarah we will be studying at https://www.sefaria.org/Isaiah.42.5-42.21
From “The Torah / A Women’s Commentary” edited by Dr. Tamara Cohn Eskenazi and Rabbi Andrea L. Weiss, Ph.D.
בראשית B’reishit – Genesis 1:1–6:8
Creation and Transformation by Tamara Cohn Eskenazi, pp. 3-4
WHO ARE WE? The question is answered in the first portion of Genesis as follows: We are God’s prized creation, inhabiting a good world that God has made. We are a constellation of four relationships: with the earth from whence we came and whither we return (Genesis 2), with each other as women and men equally blessed and jointly commissioned to care for the world (Genesis 1), with the animal world toward which we have responsibility (Genesis 1 and 2), and with God in whose image we are made (Genesis 1) and whose breath animates us (Genesis 2). Human disobedience complicates these relationships but does not destroy them.
Genesis 1 emphasizes the power of language and the reality of goodness. Humankind is embedded in a larger world over which God reigns supreme, but within which human beings can and do play a unique, decisive role.
A wide-angle lens that encompasses the whole world in Genesis 1 is augmented in Genesis 2–3 with a zoom lens that discloses an “up close and personal” relationship with God. This split-screen view characterizes the Torah as a whole and introduces a biblical practice of offering more than one perspective on important events.
The subsequent narratives, through Genesis 11, continue to respond to universal human questions about origins. They account for human suffering and inequality while affirming the sovereignty of a God who deeply cares for the world and its creatures.
Genesis 1–11 depicts God as still discovering the qualities of the material at hand (humankind) and (re)assessing its potential. Despite repeated disappointments, God remains faithful and hopeful, adjusting expectations and offering humankind new tools and guidance.
The parashah concludes at a nadir, with God’s disappointment in humankind when violence corrupts goodness (6:6). However, the text also makes clear the possibility of renewal despite decline (a theme throughout the Bible). Goodness and connectedness persist.
No biblical story has had more influence on women’s lives and identity–and none has been more often reinterpreted through later cultural biases–than the creation of woman in Genesis 2 and the expulsion from the Garden in Genesis 3. The version of creation of humankind in 1:26–28, which portrays equality between the sexes and their shared reflection of God’s image, is typically overlooked in favor the more ambiguous one in Genesis 2, which is typically read as one in which man precedes woman in time. Consequently, the first woman has been cast by later interpreters as an afterthought: second and therefore secondary in value, not essential to God’s plan. She has also been held solely or at least primarily responsible for human suffering.
However, a close reading of Genesis 1–3 indicates that such (mis)readings overlook the context and nuances of the depiction of woman. Suffice it to say here that the first woman is depicted as a discerning, responsible person who despite transgression (Genesis 3) maintains a creative partnership with both God and the first man. She is rightly recognized by her man as a source of life (3:20).
Other named women make cameo appearances: Ada, Zillah, and Naamah (4:19–23). The parashah concludes with a mysterious account about the illegitimate seizing of women, a prelude to the flood story that will follow (see at 6:1–8).
Post-biblical Interpretations – by Judith R. Baskin, pp. 28-29
God now said, “Let us make human beings…” (1:26). The rabbinic sages read the two quite different accounts of human beginnings in this parashah as one continuous text. They took for granted that the male and female creations of Genesis 1 were the Adam and Eve of Genesis 2–3. However, the Rabbis were skeptical that men and women were created simultaneously in the divine image as stated in 1:26; they generally insisted that the first woman was formed later, from the first human being, as in Genesis 2:4–25. In Midrash B’reishit Rabbah 8.1, Rabbi Jeremiah ben Leazar suggested the compromise position that initially God created one entity with both male and female sexual characteristics. Only afterward, as described in Genesis 2:22, did God separate the female “side” to form the first woman from an essentially male entity. This midrash makes the powerful point that man and woman were initially created as a united being to which they revert when they become one flesh (Genesis 2:24) in marriage.
“In our image, after our likeness” (1:26). Parallel comments in B’reishit Rabbah 8.9 and 22.2 maintain the precedence of the man in human creation, while stressing the crucial role of marriage and procreation in human life: “In the past, Adam was created from the ground, and Eve from Adam; but henceforth [with the birth of offspring] it shall be in our image, after our likeness. Neither man without woman, nor woman without man, nor both of them without the Shechinah.” This invocation of the Shechinah–the indwelling nurturing aspect of the Divine, designated by a feminine noun–indicates that for the Rabbis, the female also shares in the divine image when she is joined to the male in a fruitful marriage.
God then blessed them (1:28). Continuing the strong connection between Creation and marriage, B’reishit Rabbah 8.13 records the tradition that God “took up a cup of blessing and blessed them.” Then it adds: “Rabbi Judah ben Rabbi Simon said: [The angels] Michael and Gabriel were Adam’s ‘best men.’ Rabbi Simlai said: We find that the Holy One blesses bridegrooms, adorns brides, visits the sick, buries the dead, and recites the blessing for mourners. God blesses bridegrooms, as it is written: God then blessed them; and adorns brides, as it is written: Now God יהוה built up the rib taken from the man into a woman (Genesis 2:22).”
Then God יהוה considered, “It is not good that the man be alone–I will make him a helpmate” (2:18). B’reishit Rabbah 17.2 teaches: “A man without a wife lives without good, without help, without joy, without blessing, and without atonement…. Some even say he falls short of the divine image, since immediately following For human beings were made in the image of God (Genesis 9:6) it is written, As for you, be fruitful and multiply (9:7). For the Rabbis, humankind is like God in its ability to create human beings, yet reproduction requires both females and males. According to BT Y’vamot 63a, women also help men in pragmatic ways; there the prophet Elijah meets Rabbi Yosi and asks him rhetorically: “If a man brings in wheat, does he chew on the wheat? If flax, does he put on the flax? [No, he must wait until his wife sees to the processing of the wheat into bread, and of the flax into clothing!] Does she not, then, bring light to his eyes and put him on his feet?”
and the man said, “This time– / bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh! (2:23). Prompted by This time, several rabbinic passages mention a previous time –a “first Eve,” who fled from Adam and was replaced with a second female creation (B’reishit Rabbah 17.7, 18.4, 22.7). This legend was later combined with ancient folk traditions about the night spirit Lilith. In the Alphabet of Ben Sira (possibly 8th century C.E.), Lilith’s rebelliousness is attributed to her equal creation with Adam. Refusing to be subservient in sexual intercourse or in any other way, she became a demon rather than endure Adam’s domination. Jewish folklore attributed nocturnal emissions to Lilith, who was said to set upon sleeping men. She was also blamed for maternal deaths in childbirth and for infant mortality. One popular remedy was amulets bearing the names of angels. Lilith is further demonized in Jewish mystical traditions where she and her satanic husband Samael become the evil counterparts of Adam and Eve. (On Lilith, see further Judith R. Baskin, Midrashic Women, 2002, pp. 58–60).
And to the woman, [God] said (3:16). Some Rabbis blame Eve for the expulsion from the Garden of Eden and its consequences. While Adam was punished for his participation in divine disobedience, none of the pronouncements against him in Genesis 3:17–19 apply only to males. But Eve, and through her all women, received additional gender-specific punishments–and rabbinic literature discusses them frequently. The inventory found in Avot D’Rabbi Nathan B 42 includes: menstruation, “when she is driven from her house and banned from her husband”; childbirth; nursing her children; and being subject to her husband’s authority and his jealousy. Moreover, she ages quickly and ceases to give birth, while “men never cease being able to beget children.” Also, a woman stays indoors; and when she goes out, her head must be covered like a mourner: “That is why women precede the funeral bier, saying, ‘We have brought death upon all the inhabitants of the world.’” Such harsh views permeate rabbinic commentary on Eve’s creation and her role in the Garden of Eden, and they had a long and pernicious afterlife in shaping Jewish and Christian views of women.
ROSH CHODESH CHESHVAN
Cheshvan begins at sundown on Monday, October 24, 2022 and ends at nightfall on Wednesday, October 26, 2022. It 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.
FOR OUR COUNTRY p.516
THUS SAYS ADONAI, This is what I desire: to unlock the fetters of wickedness, and untie the cords of lawlessness; to let the oppressed go free, to break off every yoke. Share your bread with the hungry, and take the wretched poor into your home. When you see the naked, give clothing, and do not ignore your own kin.
O GUARDIAN of life and liberty, may our nation always merit Your protection. Teach us to give thanks for what we have by sharing it with those who are in need. Keep our eyes open to the wonders of creation, and alert to the care of the earth. May we never be lazy in the work of peace; may we honor those who have [served, suffered or] died in defense of our ideals. Grant our leaders wisdom and forbearance. May they govern with justice and compassion. Help us all to appreciate one another, and to respect the many ways that we may serve You. May our homes be safe from affliction and strife, and our country be sound in body and spirit. Amen.
We recite MI SHEBËRACH for the victims of abuse, brutality, conflicts, fear, natural disasters, pandemics, tragedies, violence of all kinds especially directed at individuals and specific communities including us, and war; for all those at home alone or lonely; 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, conflict, disease, natural disasters, pandemics, tragedies, violence of all kinds, and war.
This coming week, the 27th of Tishri through the 3rd of Cheshvan, we lovingly remember:
Helen L. Simons
TKH Memorial Board
First Cousin of Mary Caron
Emma Bessi Yazzie
Friend of Jane Kolber
Those victims of the Sho’ah (Holocaust) who died at this time of year.
“ZICHRONAM LIV’RACHAH” – MAY THEIR MEMORIES BE FOR BLESSING.
TORAH STUDY AND SHAZOOM
We will meet as usual at the regular times for Torah Study and Shazoom this evening, Friday, October 21, 2022. For the next few months we will read and discuss the Haftarah, each selection from the prophets following the weekly Torah Portion.
Zoom regularly updates its security and performance features. Making sure you have the latest version of Zoom, please join us online this evening with wine/grape juice for Kiddush and Challah for Motzi.
Topic: Torah Study – Haftarah Isaiah 42:5-21
Time: Oct 21, 2022 06:00 PM Arizona
Shazoom – Erev Shabbat Service
Time: Oct 21, 2022 07:30 PM Arizona
To join Torah Study and/or Shazoom click on the following link [you may need to copy it into your browser]: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/72510500854?pwd=Z3VQZWF4U1BBZytNYmh3aHFTWkFDZz09
Meeting ID: 725 1050 0854
Hint: The last character of the password is the number zero.
Shabbat Shalom – Buen Shabbat/Gut Shabbos
PS – About the Book of Isaiah:
From Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Book_of_Isaiah
From My Jewish Learning