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B’resheet(In the beginning) B’resheet/Gen. 1:1-6:8

Torah PortionB’resheet (In the beginning) B’resheet/Genesis 1:1-6:8

Haftorah Reading Isaiah 42:5-43:10

 

Tonight, we begin our Torah cycle readings with this section on the story of the creation of the world and the beginning of humans in G-d’s world. To emphasize an important grammatical difference between Hebrew and English, I want to read the first five words in our section. In English we read, “In the beginning G-d created…” In Hebrew a word for word translation would be, “In the beginning created G-d.” You will notice there is a difference. In Hebrew the verb comes first before you read who performed the action. This shows us an important rule for all of us to remember. What we do, how we live, our actions are of supreme importance. How we spend the time G-d grants us on this earth matters. How we go through our days speaks volumes to the world around us.

 

 

Now to our portion. As we read this portion I expect we all notice a difference in the account of creation in chapter one and the account in chapters two and three. I would like to point out a few of these differences and see what it might tell us of how to understand this seeming conflict.

First, let’s look at the creation of the first woman. In 2:23 we read where Adam called the first female, “woman” or in Hebrew Isha because she was taken from man. The word in Hebrew for man is Ish. However, later in 3:20 we read, “Adam called his wife’s name Eve because she was the mother of all living.” We can see Adam’s perception of this woman had changed. He first called her Isha/woman, a general term related to a group or class of people. Later in chapter three he gave her a proper name, indicating he saw her now as a  person in her own right. In his first naming he saw her as an extension of himself, “bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh.” Here, he began to see what made her different from him. He realized she could give birth and he couldn’t.

 

Now let’s look at the consequences of the two acts of naming. After the first when Adam called her woman/Isha, the sin of the forbidden fruit occurred. After Adam named her Eve we read where G-d made skin garments for them. Think about this for a moment. Even though they had sinned the L-rd cared about them. He made garments and covered them with skins. This is a picture of love and protection from their Heavenly Father.

 

Now I would like us to take the time to look at two of the most common names for the Father that we see in Hebrew. In the first chapter of B’resheet/Genesis, we find “Elohim” which is translated in English as G-d. This name is used to describe those qualities of the Father that we see as being somewhat impersonal such as His power, His laws, His justice. This is not a complete picture of our Father. Later in this section the second name HaShem was added. These two names fill in the whole character of our Father. This second name is used to translate His love, His mercy, His compassion. In our reading we see this name used in chapters 3 and 4. In chapter 3 we see it used in conjunction with Elohim when He confronted Adam and Eve with their sin. He judged them for their transgressions but then in verse 22 we read of Him clothing them. When we sin, for sure we must bear the results of that sin but G-d does not reject us with no way back to Him. He still loves us.

 

In chapter 4 we see the first time the word HaShem is used as the name of the Father without the addition of the name Elohim. Here we read where Eve saw her ability to give birth as a blessing from the Father. New life would come into the world through her.

 

I would like to give you one last example of how these two accounts of creation worked together to give us a complete description of our Heavenly Father. In the first chapter the Father summoned the universe into being. In the second account He became a gardener and planted a garden. We may wonder why He would do this. Scripture gives us the answer in 2:15. He put man in the garden to work it, to cultivate it. In verse 2:18 we read of the Father’s mercy and compassion when He recognized Adam being alone and created Eve.

 

These differences and many more are to show us that our Father is a just G-d, but He also is a loving and forgiving Father. I think this should speak to each of us. In order to be a child of the Father we also are called to exhibit mercy and compassion, fairness and justice for all people, not just people who are easy to love. As we learn to love people we learn to love our Father and feel the fullness of His love for us.