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Bereshit – A thought for the week by Mike Lewis

Bereishit, ”In the beginning”, is far more than a simple creation story. Most civilisations recount a creation story, usually the creation of divine beings. We are singular; our creation story is the relationship of God, man and the world in which we live.

We see a complex relationship, a partnership between God and humankind even from the beginning. There is a difference between what we, as humans, can create and what we actually make.

Within the Sedra there are two descriptions of failure and there are two stories of creation.

When Adam and Eve eat the fruit of the tree of Knowledge Adam blames the woman. The woman blames the serpent. They both deny personal responsibility.

When Cain murders his brother, he asks why he should be concerned with the welfare of anyone but himself. He denies moral responsibility.

The first creation story describes seven days of creation and then a day of rest and ends with the instruction:

Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it

The second story has the earth created in one day and we are:

placed in the Garden of Eden to work it and to guard it.

If we misuse the environment, to subdue it we miss the need to guard it. It is a pointed lesson for our times.

The Sedra is not about the order in which our environment was created but in our being able to create order in the world around us. It is the instruction to seek “Tikkun Olam”, to repair the world.

As human beings we fail but we learn. At the end of the Sedra we have been sent out of Eden and made to labour. We became mortal. God even contemplates destroying his own creation saying:

I will blot out man,……… for I regret that I made them.


Noah found favour in the eyes of the Lord

As Jews it is not just our faith in God. It is God’s faith in us. In the same way the world was created we need to ask ourselves to go, create, and renew and, like God, to be able to say “we saw it was good”

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