February 17, 2018


Many pages have been written in the Zohar about Parashat Beresheet and the word “Beresheet”, or Genesis, ‘the Beginning’, teaching us the importance of this parasha and the many hidden secrets contained in it.

The main insight conveyed is the difference between the world of illusion as perceived by our five senses, and the world of truth of the Upper Worlds. The reality that is perceived by our senses in the world of illusion is but a hint, a shadow of a more significant occurrence in the world of truth. The concrete meaning of this understanding is that we must not regard as real what we see or hear.

Upon first reading the parasha it would seem that there are many issues that elicit speculation. The parasha opens with the description of the creation of the world, and that on the first day “God created the heavens and the earth…and God said let there be light and there was light…and God called the light day, and the darkness He called night…” And yet, further in the story it is told that the illuminating celestial objects were created on the fourth day, in order to “separate the day from the night”. How then can it be that day and night were created on the first day, if they were only capable of being separated by means of the luminaries that were created on the fourth day?

Another paradox is found in the creation on the third day – “the earth brought forth grass, herb yielding seed after its kind”, and “tree bearing fruit with seed of its kind”. But then in chapter 2, after the conclusion of the story of creation, it is written “…no tree of the field was yet on the earth, neither did any herb of the field yet grow, because the Lord God had not brought rain upon the earth, and there was no man to work the soil.”

There is a philosophical query that can help us solve these contradictions, which questions whether a tree that falls in the forest and no one is there to witness it makes a sound. Deliberation over this question in contemporary physics proposes that the tree did not make a sound. In like manner, before there was anyone around to identify and name the objects in creation, they did not exist; neither animate, inanimate substances nor the dimension of time existed.

God created man giving him the role of naming creations. We have the ability to decide what happens in our reality, and our reality is always subjective. In the story of Adam and Eve and the Tree of Knowledge, Adam’s sin was that he said to God “…The woman You gave to be with me she gave me of the tree; so I ate”. Adam is blaming God rather than take responsibility for his actions. By blaming others, or the Creator, we actually deny our purpose in life – being creators. We then cease to be in His image, and we cast responsibility for our pain and suffering on others. Likewise, in the story of Cain and Abel, it is written, “And the Lord had respect unto Abel and to his offering, but unto Cain and to his offering He had not respect. And it annoyed Cain, and his countenance fell”. Here too, the text teaches us that by depending on others for our happiness, we are giving away our power and we are no longer creators. In Genesis, the Beginning, we have the opportunity to begin again by fulfilling our purpose to be creators; we are the producer and director, the editor and critic of the movie of our life.

Shana Tova!

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