The BeginningOctober 15, 2012 - 5:00 am
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” – Genesis 1:1
The Torah portion for this week, B’reisheet, is from Genesis 1:1—6:8 and Isaiah 42:5—43:10.
“In the beginning” is a fitting title for this week’s Torah portion which is about the story of the creation of the world. But these words are not just the opening words of this portion, they are also the words that begin the entire Bible. The Sages were bothered by this and they asked, “Why?”
Why not? It seems to make perfect sense to begin any book at “the beginning.” Would it make more sense to start in the middle or at the end?
The answer depends on what kind of book you are writing. A history book should start at the beginning of history. A storybook should start at the beginning of the story. But the Sages understood that the Bible is neither. It was not given to teach us history or to entertain us with a nice story. The Torah is an instruction manual for living. Anything it contains is there to teach us about God and how to live our lives.
Since that’s the case, the Sages felt that it would have been more appropriate to start with the first commandment given to man or a story with a moral. But instead, the Torah begins with a description of Creation. The Sages ask, “What does this have to do with the way that we should live?”
Open your heart and hear the answer. It was given thousands of years ago, but is remains relevant today.
The Sages say that one day, the nations of the world are going to come to the Jewish people and say “You are robbers! You stole the land that you live on!” And they will try to take the land away from the Jews and give it to someone else.
Is this not an accurate description of what is happening in the land of Israel today? Many in the world are working very hard to take Jerusalem from the Jews and the Jews from Judea.
The Sages explain that God begins the Bible with Creation so that we would know that He created the world and has all authority over the universe. The land on this earth is His to give and His to take away. Only He has the right to do so. He states very clearly in the Bible that He gave the land of Israel, a small portion of the entire earth, to the Children of Israel. No one, not even the United Nations, has the right to take that land away.
God begins the Bible with a message for the critical moments at the end of time. He wants us to be strong and unwavering in our support of Israel. No matter what the world may say, the only voice that matters to us is the Word of God. So stand proud with Israel. It is the very first message from God and our top priority.