Blog Bereshit 5779
Blog Bereshit Tishrei 22 5779 בלוג בְּרֵאשִׁית, ב תשרי תשע׳׳ט
Once again, we begin a new cycle with Bereshit, Genesis which speaks to the simplest of people as well as to scientists through Quantum Physics. In Ber. 1:20 the word nefesh is introduced which means “being alive”. It describes the waters with swarms of living creatures and birds. The largest animals are given the term “nefeshנֶפֶשׁ .” He blessed them on the 5th day and said, “to be fruitful and multiply” (vs.22). On the 6th day He brought all kinds of beasts according to their kinds. Then God made man, also as “nefesh”, as a living creature. However, He would add something special to man – the quality of His “likeness and image” – בְּצַלְמֵנוּ כִּדְמוּתֵנוּ b’tsalmenu kidmuteinu. In Chapter 2 vs. 7 we have a different account of the creation of man – from the dust of the earth He breathed into man’s nostrils, the breath of life (נִשְׁמַת חַיִּים), nishmat chaim, from which we get the word, neshama – soul. From this, we are able to differentiate between all living creatures and man in whom God breathed His spark of life and who carries His essence.
From that moment on, man was created to be in partnership with the Creator. He gave them the wonderful gift of free will, unlike the angels or any other living creature making man responsible for his own actions. The Creator does not impose Himself upon us; He waits for us to respond to Him. Adam and Eve had the capability to disobey the Creator and when they did, they lost the possibility of eating from the Tree of Life which would have made them immortal. The Creator never pointed His finger at them nor did He judge them. Instead He gave them several opportunities to acknowledge their disobedience and to return to a right relationship with Him. He did the same thing with Cain and Abel. As I have already mentioned, the problem with Cain was not the type of offering He brought, it was the intention (kavanah) of his heart. After the Creator accepted Abel’s offering and not Cain’s, Cain became very angry. In chapter 4:6-7, the Creator said to him: “’Why are you angry? and why has your face fallen? If you do well, would it not be accepted? and if you don’t do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is contrary to you, but you must rule over it.’ This shows us that our free will is at action here and that there is NO original sin.
Cain subsequently killed Abel and the Creator, once again did not accuse Him rather, He gave him the opportunity to admit what he had done and return to Him. Cain went even further than his parents, when he would not even admit seeing his brother after he had murdered him. In physics, we say for every action there is a reaction. In our daily lives, we can say that there are consequences for our every action. In the same way that Adam and Eve suffered for the consequences of their behavior, Cain would also suffer. We are accustomed to hearing “Why is God punishing me?” and we do not realize that we reap what we sow.
The end of this parashah describes the decadence to which mankind had fallen leading up to the flood and their subsequent destruction. There is a hint in chapter 4:25-26, about the birth of Seth as a substitute for Abel and his son, Enosh אֱנוֹשׁ which means humanity. This was intended to bring a new start to man but verse 26 says that “then began men to call upon the name of the LORD.” Other translations say that “then men began to call upon the names of other gods”. This was the beginning of idolatry the consequences of which led up to the flood. Since creation, our DNA has not changed. We are doing the same things that Adam, Eve, Cain and Abel have done, and our Creator is asking us, “where are you?” as He asked them. Let us ask ourselves “where am I?”.