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A Beginning of Beginnings

Parshat Bereshit

Genesis 1:1 – 6:9

We begin again.  The cycle of reading the Torah begins again.  Simchat Torah, the holiday of rejoicing in the Torah that ends Sukkot and the flurry of holy days of Tishrei is the time we end and begin the cycle of reading our most sacred literature, the Torah over again. And this Shabbat is Shabbat Bereshit. The Sabbath of the beginning. The Sabbath of Creation. The Sabbath of the first Sabbaths.  This week we read the stories of the universe’s creation.  “When God began to create….” (Gen. 1:1)

There is so much to say and think about the myths of the world’s beginning. But the stories of the creation of the Universe are not fact but myth.  Grand stories to help us contemplate and imagine the way the universe began but more importantly our role in the world.  These are not just questions that we have today but ancient questions of meaning as well.

The Jewish story of creation (although there are two stories embedded in this week’s Torah portion) is a story of peace.  It is a peaceful beginning; a pastoral beginning taking place in Garden, an earthly paradise.  This is a contrast to many ancient creation myths that explain the creation of the world and human beings out of clashes of earth and heaven, the warring gods and goddesses; sky gods over sea goddesses.  And in other myths there are clashes of earth and heaven.

In our creation myth God brings out of the chaos and void (tohu v’vohu), light and order and then a peaceful garden setting filled with goodness.  For each day of creation God calls the work good.  “This is very good,” says God in assessment of the handiwork of creation!

And that is something to ponder on this Shabbat Bereshit.  What is good?  What can you say is good as you create your world?  What of your handiwork can you look at and what  are you pleased with?

Our tradition teaches us that creation is ongoing. It didn’t stop just because the world was set into motion.  God tasked Adam and Eve to care for the Garden and the animals.  So we have a role to play.  On this Shabbat Bereshit we also ask ourselves in this ongoing creation work what is our role and how will we contribute?  The New Year has begun. The new cycle of reading the Torah has begun. And now it is time to begin to live in goodness all the promises you made to yourself at Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.  Creating the New You. It is the Sabbath of Creation and beginning again. .

Happy Beginnings.