בְּרֵאשִׁ֖ית בָּרָ֣א אֱלֹהִ֑ים אֵ֥ת הַשָּׁמַ֖יִם וְאֵ֥ת הָאָֽרֶץ
First, God created the Heavens and the Earth.
As if it was an answer to a question, the first Book of Moses, Bereishit (Genesis), begins with a series of events way too enormous for us to fathom. The Author of these books used metaphors and imagery that we can relate to. That way, we can understand the Torah in our own ways.
While the Torah and its message have no beginning and have no end, still the books of the Torah tell a story with a beginning, a middle, and an end. It tells the story in layman’s terms, so no matter what station in life we come from, we can understand the Torah at our own level. On the surface it tells a simple story of a group of people – a family – over many generations and several centuries. Every chapter in this story, simple as it may seem, carries a profound message that tells us something about ourselves.
Setting the Stage
To give background to the human story that is about to unfold, we start with a series of events that occurred before there were people – our ancestors – roaming around. The events occurred over six “days” plus a seventh “day” on which there was no creation activity. A simple understanding has it that God created everything in six days, then rested on the seventh day. Another way of looking at it is that each day is a metaphor representing a different aspect of creation.
And still another way to look at it is that the six days represent the six directions of the physical world. The six directions are like the 3 dimensions and their opposites; left and right, forward and backward, and up and down. The 7th day is Shabbat, the Sabbath. On that day, you are supposed to free yourself from the mundane physical concerns of the prior six days. This gives you a chance to better connect with your inner-self, the seventh direction, so to speak.
Heaven and Earth
First God created the Heavens and the Earth. There is no greater distance between two concepts than Heaven and Earth. The invisible heaven is a spiritual, not a physical, location. It is not bound by either time or distance. Not as we know it. We can only experience heaven in our imaginations, not with our senses. The Torah tells us God created multiple heavens – perhaps in layers like the skies above us – and only one earth. Earth is a physical entity – it is this world that we experience with our physical senses. It is this world that is bound by time and space.
Heaven and earth were created together. There can be no physical entity without a non-physical entity. And from our perspective, there could be no non-physical entity without a physical entity. Earth and Heaven depend on each other. And I believe the Torah is trying to tell us that we are always dealing with both Heaven and Earth all the days of our lives.
This just came to me. It’s a theory. What I just said, that we’re dealing with both Heaven and Earth all the time… Maybe that has something to do with multiple heavens and the one earth. Maybe what we do on earth – how we behave in our physical life – determines which layer of heaven we deal with.
More Opposites on Day 1
Darkness and light came into being together. The same with night and day?
The concepts of darkness and lightness are mutually dependent. There is no darkness without lightness. And light would have no meaning if there wasn’t also darkness wherever and whenever there was no light. To prove the point to humankind’s satisfaction, God created night and day, and also set up the sun to provide light in the daytime. Whenever our side of the planet does not face the sun, it is night time..
Of Science And Torah
The discussion is as contemporary as it must be old. The debate between Evolution Versus Creation is a false debate. The fact is, creation, as spoken about in “Bereishit” is not inconsistent with the science of evolution. Evolutionists who outright dismiss creationism as untrue are being completely unscientific. Creationists who outright dismiss all theories of evolution have not studied Torah well. I have delved into both science and Torah study. While I am very far from being an expert in either, I know enough about both to say that they compliment each other.
The Torah is about Truth. Science is about knowledge. See how they go hand in hand?
Days of Darkness
Quite often you will find that the weekly Torah portion, the parashat hashavuah, is very relevant to something happening in current events. Today it may not be something specific. However, Parashah Bereishit is relevant to current events in general. For though it may be a sunny day, we live in dark times. Around the world, rulers have given themselves powers at the expense of people’s freedom and well-being.
America has been hailed as the leader of the free world, and in the past the country was justified in accepting that title. But today the United States has a president who, empowered by support from the Republican party, has considerably weakened the country while pursuing ways to use his office to enrich himself. The current president has no relationship whatsoever with Truth. He lies so often and about so many things, big and small, that foreign leaders do not trust him at all. Nor is it possible for citizens of the U.S. to know what is true or not true when the president speaks. For even when he states something that is blatantly false, or when he does something that is obviously so corrupt it puts the national security at risk, there are news personalities who invent facts to support the president and everything he does. There are also Congress men and women, who put their party before the Constitution of the United States, and they put this president before national security.
And it is all done in complete opposition to what the Torah stands for – humility, not vanity or arrogance, as we see more and more in the current U.S. president. Honesty, not lies and corruption, as we see more and more in the curent president. The list could go on and on.
Rays of Hope
World leaders may have led the world so far into the dark that it will take a very long time to overcome the damage and make repairs. The U.S. president, empowered by his political party, may have led America to destruction of its values and all it has stood for, but…..
But people around the world are showing courage to stick up to their rulers, and ask for something better. Women, worldwide are speaking out against discrimination. Hundreds of thousands of Hong Kong residents have persisted in a demonstration to preserve their rights. And in America, it’s still a longshot but many citizens have become more vocal in opposing the current president.
In Congress, representatives are undergoing a serious task to seriously look into the president’s misdeeds and possibly impeach and remove him from power.
It may seem too murky to be happy about it. The Torah, in the book of Bereishit, just might have an answer for us.
It says that at the beginning, everything was in chaos. But God put everything in order , and the people were relieved. If we act with a little courage, and with honesty, and do right things, I think we have the ability to turn this sinking ship around,
In addition, the Torah tells us one thing that we may have overlooked. After 6 days of creation, God looked at the world and declared,
“It’s good. It’s very good.”