Bereishit: Journeys

Mitzvot in story form.

Rabbi S. Weiss,

Judaism לבן ריק
לבן ריק
Arutz 7

Life, as they say, is a journey.

Certainly it's true about the life of our Biblical heroes. Adam and Chava begin their lives in the most pristine and
The message seems clear: It's all about starting over.
perfect environment imaginable - so elevated were they in that Paradise that they actually glowed with the light from Above. But then, in a flash, it all came crashing down; they are exiled, put to work and beset by horrendous "family issues." Adam, created just a tad lower than the angels, reverts to what his name implies: adamah, dirt, close to the ground, a "fallen angel."

Noach, the next Torah personality in line, must also undertake the most perilous of journeys. Not only Noach, but the entire world he inhabits, will undergo a "sea change" of massive proportions when the Great Flood destroys all humankind that "misses the boat" by sinning against their fellow man.

And Avraham and Sarah, too, embark upon a great adventure when they are told by HaShem to pack up their monotheistic beliefs and set out for "the Land that I will show you" (a.k.a. Israel). As we who live here know all too well, life in Eretz Yisrael is incomparable - that is, it doesn't compare to life anywhere else on the planet.

What message is sent by these dramatic, compelling narratives, which our rabbis call "mitzvot in story form"?

The message seems clear: It's all about starting over.

We may think we are going to have neat, orderly lives that build slowly but surely, step by step, year after year, in a predictable pattern. But it ain't necessarily so.

At various points in our life, we experience change. Change that can be sudden and dramatic. We grow up and
Have you ever wondered why Bereisheit is not the first Torah reading of the year?
must leave the nest to face the real world (like Adam). Or a great financial flood comes and washes away our hard-earned savings (note: both the great crash of 1929 and the stock market fall of 1987 occurred during the week of parshat Noach). Or we relocate, or feel a calling, like Avraham and Sarah, an urge to change the world - or at least ourselves - and set out on a new path in uncharted territory.

This is the beauty and the blessing of Bereisheit. We praise G-d in our tefilah for "benevolently creating the world anew each day." But guess what? We, too, are called upon to do the exact same thing.

Have you ever wondered why Bereisheit is not the first Torah reading of the year? Shouldn't it be? But HaShem orchestrated things so that our sedra is always read immediately after Sukkot, for the dismantling of our sukkah and our move back to a "new" home reminds us that, no matter how old or set in our ways we may be, we are all really "In the Beginning."