Photo of Rabbi Ettedgui

Parashat Bereshit - 5776

My friends,

On Simchat torah this past Tuesday, we completed reading the last portion of the five Books of Moses - Vezot Habracha. This Shabbat, we go back to the very beginning - the Book of Genesis and the portion of Bereshit.

We have been doing this for years - thousands of years. Is it 'deja vu' all over again? Absolutely not! Each time we study the Torah, we find new meaning as there are so many aspects and messages in every story, every verse, every word.

I would like to share with you just two lessons from the Creation story, the first chapter in the Book of Genesis, Bereshit.

(1) While all things created during the first days were created by a command from G-d - "Let There Be" - when it came to the creation of humans, it is stated that G-d made Adam in G-d's image, a combination of earth and 'Nishmat Hayim', a living Neshama or soul. As a result, we are all from one human being and, thus, every human being possesses a Neshama from G-d. It is hard to see this from the real world in which we live, but the Torah states, very clearly, that all humans have been created equal - all from one human being.

(2) The Torah describes what was created during the first six days. Does it really matter what was created and whether it took six, ten, or even one day to create the world?

The six days of creation are important becuase of the Seventh Day, the Shabbat. It is the only day in the entire Torah that has been endowed with Kedusha, Holiness. As it is stated, Vayekadesh Oto - G-d sanctified the Seventh Day. All other holidays are sacred because we, the people, make them sacred by observing them in commemorating an event. We set those days - we humans make the calendar. Shabbat, however, has been set from creation, and is an integral part of the creation. Every time you keep Shabbat, you are a witness to G-d's creation.

These are two fundamental lessons we should take from the first portion of the Torah - treat all people with respect because they are Betzelem El-him - in G-d's image - and Keep the Shabbat.

Shabbat Shalom,

Avram