Insights to Parshat Bereishit
Space for creation
The creation of the universe, the creation of mankind, the creation of thoughts and souls is extremely profound. The truth of the process is beyond mankind. We try to speak of it and so we anthropomorphize deep conceptions to understand them. I often find myself getting stuck in the first couple chapters of Genesis as I try to probe their profound words.
There are two basic types of mysticism in Judaism, one is referred to as Ma’aseh Bereishit (The works of Creation) which deals with Creation and the other type is Ma’aseh Merkavah (The works of the Chariot, its name taken from the book of Ezekiel) which deals with how the Almighty maintains his creation constantly with his Speech. In the book of Bereishit (Genesis) we get glimpses into the Creation like flashes of lightning during a storm. We do not see the brilliance but for brief moments.
According to Rashi (Rabbi Shlomo Yitzaki) the first words of Genesis 1:1 need to be looked at in depth because there is a deliberate error in the text to draw our attention to it. “Bereishit bara Elohim” which is translated as “In the beginning G-d created”, however the grammar structure does not support this idea, instead it should be translated as “In the beginning of G-d creating”. The purpose that it is grammatically wrong is because it is an acronym. In Hebrew there are no vowels in written texts. The first word has the following transliterated spelling B-R-A-SH-Y-T. (I use the A as a place holder; this letter is a special character in Hebrew that serves soley as a place holder). Rashi says that that the Acronym is as follows:
B- Berishona meaning “In the beginning”
R- Ra’ah “Saw”
E- Elohim- “G-d”
SH - SheYikbel “that would receive”
Y – Yisrael “Israel”
T – Torah “G-d law”
Therefore, in the beginning HaShem (G-d) created the world because He saw that Israel would accept his Torah.
In the Jewish tradition according to the Midrash, there were 7 things that were created before HaShem started with the creation of the world, and this might explain why it appears here that the first words of Genesis does not seem to start from the beginning of creation. However, the start it does not change that HaShem creates ex nihilo which means HaShem creates all things. It is interesting to note that a lot of people think that HaShem’s first physical creation is that of light but in a close reading of the text we can see that he actually created darkness before light. In universe is made upon of more darkness than light.
There is a deep statement that appears. Light is amongst one of the first things that was every created one the first day but the Sun is not created until the fourth day. How can this be? The understanding for this is that there are three days of spiritual creation and then there are three days of corresponding physical creation.
Often people think that there is only one tree of significance; however this is not the case. Verse 2:8-9 says, “HaShem G-d planted a garden in the Eden, to the east, and placed there the man whom He had formed . And HaShem G-d caused to sprout from the ground every tree that was pleasing to the sight and good for food; also the Tree of Life in the midst of the garden, and the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Bad.”
This was a test of obedience. If Adam and Eve would have waited until Sabbath then they would have been allowed to eat of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Bad”, there was never a restriction of them eating from the Tree of Life, this restriction is because of the fall. If they were obedient and waited a few more hours until Sabbath then there would never had been a fall and a subsequent expulsion from the Garden of Eden.
There are layers upon layers of exegesis that can be expounded upon in the first couple of chapters here. One concept that I see is from the words in Hebrew which state in verse 8, “VaYita HaShem Elohim gan b’eden miKedem va’yasim sham et haAdam asher yatzah.” (Translation above italicized). My attempt to translate at a deeper meaning would be “and Adonai Elohim planted a garden in Eden (the eye of the Judge) from the East (I would replace east with ancient meaning the ancient of days) and He put there the Man which he formed.” Meaning that HaShem saw everything first and he kept on eye on everything, in the eye of the judge who is the Ancient of Days.
There can be a further play on the word for Adam here because HaShem took the dirt from the Adamah (ground) and formed man (Adam) and that which is constantly being referred to as holy, or as another scripture says that life is in the blood (Dam), the Dam or blood that runs through our body. The ground to the blood is Adamah, Adam, and Dam.
There is another unique perspective that was pointed out from someone speaking at a Torah Study I was leading once is from verse 2:15 which says, “HaShem G-d took the man and placed him in the Garden of Eden, to work it and to guard it.” In other words G-d did not make man in the Garden, G-d made man outside of the garden and then placed him in the Garden so that man would know what was outside the garden if he rebel against his Creator.
Why was Eve created from the rib of a man? My idea is because the first created being Adam was created in the Image of Elohim, meaning the heavenly beings. Well, HaShem is neither masculine nor feminine, nor or the holy angels that serve him. Instead they have both characteristics of masculine and feminine. So in other words the woman had to be pulled out of the man so that they can complement each other. So that it can fulfill that scripture that says that a man should leave his mother and father and cling to his wife and they should become one flesh. The practical interpretation is that the one being is the child that they are co-creators with HaShem in bringing into this world, but another interpretation could be referring to bring the soul mates together back into a unity that might be able to happen in the hereafter.
There are a couple of points to draw out which is stated in verse 4;7, “Surely, if you improve yourself, you will be forgiven. But if you do not improve yourself, sin rests at the door. Its desire is toward you, yet you can conquer it.” HaShem has given us the ability to overcome sin. HaShem has given us this from the very beginning and we can do this because of the Torah which is our guide on how to live a correct and holy life before the Master of the Universe, before the King of Everything, before the Father of all existence.
Methushael, the oldest man that every lived, was very unique. It is said in the Midrash that on the day of his death, that is the day that the firmament broke apart and the flood begun. The grandfather of Noah Methushael was a righteous man and HaShem had to remove him from the earth before HaShem could allow the flood to come upon the earth.
Genesis 6:1 makes reference to the Benei Elohim, which Rashi says are “the sons of Rulers”, it can also be translated as “the Sons of G-d” or righteous people. The Daughters of man, Rashi says are the general populace. My perspective is that they are daughters of corrupted people. In otherwords godly men took ungodly women and then the result was ungodly children because the place of the mother in teaching the child is great. No school can replace the mother. Let your imagination go and you might follow the perspective that the Benei Elohim are angels and that procreation took place with the daughters of man and then the result was giants, and this is also a Midrash, however it seems too much for my perspective to grasp. So in general my perspective here is in agreement with Rashi.
The depths of mystery are so profound in the book of Genesis that a person could speak all night long and not get tired and would only scratch the surface of the profound depth that the “Spirit of G-d hovers over” in the second verse of Genesis.
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