Torah Portion: B’resheet (In the Beginning) B’resheet/Genesis 1:1-6:8
HafTorah: Isaiah 42:5-43:10
To begin our study tonight I want to mention a few Hebrew words from our reading. The second word in B’resheet/Genesis 1 is “Bara”. This word means to create and is only used when describing what G-d creates. Bara means creating from nothing. Only G-d is able to create from nothing. Man uses things or substance to form or make something new.
Along with this word we see the third word is the name of G-d. In Hebrew the word used is thought of as the creative side of the Father and the law giving side. The Hebrew word here is Elohim. It is the only word used for G-d in our section until we get to B’resheet/Genesis 6:3. “And the L-rd said…” Here L-rd is used for the unspoken, sacred name of G-d.
Another word that might interest us is the name of the second son born to Adam and Hava/Eve. In English his name was Able. In Hebrew his name was Hevel, meaning vanity. We see this word used over and over in Ecclesiastes. However, it also means a vapor or mere breath. This speaks to all of us as to the fleeting aspect of life that played out in Hevel’s life.
In this Torah portion we read of what is called the original sin. What do you think was the sin of Adam and Havah? Was it eating from the tree? Or was it hiding from G-d? I believe they fell into sin by going by what they saw with their eyes, not what they heard with their ears G-d say to them. What governs our daily life? I think today’s portion has much to say to us about how we live and how we make decisions on what is right and wrong, what is ok and what is not.
People in general live their lives based on two ways of looking at their behavior. We sometimes live our lives according to what we see with our eyes. When the serpent came to Hava what did he say to her about the tree of knowledge of good and evil? He said, “Your eyes will be opened.” Then scripture says, “when the woman saw the tree it was pleasant to the eyes…” At that moment Hava and Adam were ruled by their eyes, not by what G-d said. So, in verse 7, it says they took and ate and their eyes were opened. The result of their eyes being opened was what? They saw that they were naked. They were ashamed because of their nakedness and they made clothes. Notice, until this time it did not enter their minds that they were without clothes. My question is how do we react to things that we see around us? Do we do those things that will help us to fit in? Do we dress a certain way or talk a certain way? Do we avoid doing things that might be unacceptable to the world? Shame is usually driven by wanting to fit in or to be accepted. Is this how we should make decisions daily? Are our actions ruled by what we see around us or what G-d has told us.
Here in our scripture the first couple, in B’resheet/Genesis 1:8, heard G-d moving through the Garden and they hid themselves from His voice. They didn’t want to be seen, an immediate response to shame. Our faith is not built on shame but more rightly so on guilt. When we sin, the Holy Spirit convicts us and we feel guilt.
The first couple committed their first sin by following their eyes and not their ears. Our life, as G-d people, should be built on hearing His voice. How will we know what is right and what is wrong? We know because we have heard the voice of G-d through studying His word and spending time with Him.
The major task of a believer is to listen, not to what the world says, but to what G-d says to us. It is about learning to listening to His voice. What made the prophets different from the false prophets of their age? They listened and followed the voice of G-d. The most common word in scripture is “Shema” which means to hear. We see it throughout scripture.
Reacting to an event, people or society from a position of shame does not bring us to the L-rd. G-d does not use shame. When we react from guilt, we have the wisdom to know and understand our sin and that brings us to forgiveness and peace. This peace the world does not know.
Can you think of stories or events in the Bible where people made wrong decisions by what they saw and also people who chose correctly by remember promises or commands they had heard from G-d?
Research the lives of some of the people listed below and see which ones fell into sin because they lived by sight and not by hearing the words or promises of G-d…
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego
King David seeing Bathsheva
Joshua and Caleb