Still fresh in our minds is our celebration of Rosh Hashanah, the holiday that commemorates the beginning of the beginnings, the creation of the world. This coming Shabbat, once again, we will concentrate on the same theme as we read and study the very first Torah portion, B’reshit. For us human beings perhaps the most noteworthy verses in this part of the Holy Scriptures are the ones that deal with the birth of Adam, our common ancestor.
“In the beginning”… the ancient Israelite account of creation presents us with a vision of infinite possibility. It pinpoints the unrepeatable, and unsustainable, instant when everything is potential, because nothing yet exists. All artists know this moment, and they also know, with a sinking heart, that their work will never truly capture their vision, that something will always be distorted, narrowed, lost. Did this same anguish afflict God?
Looking at Parashat Bereishit, there are so many themes which could jump out at us to look at. One could choose to look at the Theological meaning of the creation story. One could choose to look at the first case of murder in the bible. Or we could focus on the “sin” of Adam and Eve and their exile from the Garden of Eden. But if we were to focus on the particularly Jewish concepts that come out of this reading, then it is the concept of Shabbat which is most uniquely Jewish.
This has been a particularly interesting time for me, as my wife and I bid farewell to our youngest child who went off to college. We are now empty-nesters – and frankly, for the most part, enjoying the blissful quietude. Yet, there are moments when I pine away for the days gone by. I can only look forward to grandparentdom to return to one of my favorite times of the day: our children’s bed-time. “Read me a story, Daddy. No, read me two.”
This Shabbat we commenced again the reading of the Torah with the portion of Bereishit, and from this sidra we hear, among other things, the tragic story of Cain and Abel. The first brothers in the history of the world, the first murderer and the first victim.