This week we begin the reading of the Torah, “Bereishit, In the beginning”. We are the people of the Book, and part of the longest running book club of all time. We come to it fresh each year since we ourselves have changed over the last year. We are able to explore and to make it relevant to our own times and experiences.
Other civilizations had their own creation stories, but we differed. Most creation stories of the early world are about Gods in conflict with one another. Umberto Cassuto, a biblical scholar of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, described the story of Bereishit as “the revolt of one of his creatures against his Creator.” By eating the Tree of Knowledge we began to test the faith that God had in us.
Humankind was given freedom to act, but this gave us the choice to act well or to act badly. But we also have to face the consequences of our actions. We were also given a special responsibility in the sixth day:
And God said, "Let us make man in our image,
And God created man in His image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.
And God blessed them, and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it
How did God go about creation? Each time there are three stages, each marked by the words:
Make a choice “Let there be.”
See the result “and there was.”
Contemplate what was done “that it is good.”
Is this what we have done to our world and our environment? Is this what we have done in our relationships with others?
It was a good enough guide to creation, and it should be a good guide to our lives.