Torah Portion: B’resheet (In the Beginning) Genesis 1:1-6:8
HafTorah: Isaiah 42:5-43
So here we are at the beginning. So much to look at and study; we have creation, the first couple, first children, first sin. Our task is to see how it all applies to us today. What are those spiritual principles that will help us to live our life as the Creator intended? We see the hand of G-d as He moved through His creation, a creation unlike any since, something from nothing.
I want us to look at several things that should give us insight into our lives in today’s world. Let us begin with the first sin. G-d tells Adam to not eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil in Genesis 1:5-7. The consequence of eating from it was death. Eve is created from Adam. She meets the serpent and it convinces her she will have a mind-altering experience if she eats of the tree. She eats and then Adam eats. Embarrassed and ashamed they hide from G-d. G-d comes to walk with them and calls out, “Where are you?” This is not a question of where they are physically but where are they in their relationship with G-d. Adam, knowing that he has sinned blames the woman, she blames the serpent. Both deny the personal responsibility of their act. They in effect say, “It wasn’t me!”
Now let us look at another sin – the first murder. Here Cain does not deny personal responsibility. He does not say it wasn’t his fault. Rather he says, “Am I my brothers keeper?” Cain denies any moral responsibility. In affect saying why should I be concerned about anyone else? Able can look out for himself. I am responsible only for myself. So here in the beginning we read of first personal responsibility, someone or something made us do it. And then moral responsibility, it is not my concern if it does not touch me I am not bothered. So Torah presents us today right off the bat, with a lesson for the ages. When we sin WE are the one at fault WE cannot and must not try to push it off on someone else. WE are called on to accept our role in our sin. Then G-d gives us a way back to Him through repentance.
We are also required as believers to take moral responsibility for our world. We actually are our brother’s keeper. We can’t say, “Well that’s the way the world is.” Or, “Well it will be all better in the world to come.” The Bible is full of people who confront the sins they see around them or if need be, to confront G-d. Look at Genesis 18:25, Exodus 5:22, Jeremiah 12:1. This is how G-d expects us to act.
When G-d asked, “Where are you?” He asked a question that has resonated through history and it speaks to us. He expects responsibility from us. He acts through us when we step out. His is the voice that told Cain we can resist evil within us and within the world. G-d calls us to work toward letting our light shine.
This brings us to another short point. The very first thing G-d created is light. In the New Testament Yeshua tells us we are the light of the world, we are to bring the light of G-d into our world. We are to be G-d’s agent to dispel darkness.
My question this week goes back to the tree of knowledge. Why did G-d show Adam this tree and then say do not eat of it? Why put temptation before them in the first place? G-d did not want robots. He wanted us, who could make the right decision, to be tempted and overcome that temptation and to grow by overcoming. He wants us to be over comers and be a people growing everyday. And when we do miss it to come to Him and repent and learn from our mistakes and go on with our walk, stronger than we were before. So He put the tree in reach. Adam had to make the decision on what to do – as we do each day.