Torah Commentary

What Does it Mean to Be Human?

October 11, 2020Rabbi Michael Dolgin
Parashat B’reishit is both the first portion in the Torah and the foundation of our Jewish tradition. These chapters teach us how to find meaning in our days, not just what happened before they began.

The Legacy of the Tree of All Knowledge

October 26, 2019Rabbi Dan Moskovitz

One Yom Kippur, a rabbi was warning his congregation about the fragility of life, and that everyone in the congregation will someday die. ... That is the great lesson and gift of this week’s parashah, B’reishit with its iconic tale of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.

Eden Defines the Truth About Responsibility

October 14, 2017Rabbi Stephen S. Pearce, Ph.D.

In B’reishit, God tells Adam he may eat the fruit of any tree but the tree of knowledge. But when Eve offers him the fruit, he eats it and then blames Eve for the transgression. Is Adam’s evasion acceptable?

The Gift of God's First Creation

October 29, 2016Ellen M. Umansky, PHD

The more complicated our lives become, the more difficult it is to count our blessings. At times, we may become overwhelmed by feelings of anger, loneliness, frustration, despair, or sorrow. We may be wracked by physical pain or unable to free ourselves from serious bouts of depression. As in this week's Torah portion, B'reishit, darkness precedes light and chaos precedes order. Metaphorically, we may have so much on our plates that we can't decide what to do first and when we do, may frequently lose focus. Sometimes I begin my day by saying to myself: "I have so much to do, I wish today were 48 instead of 24 hours." Consequently, I rush to accomplish as much as I can, often feeling harried and dissatisfied, not fully able to enjoy moments for which in hindsight, I wasn't fully present. When we begin the cycle of Torah readings each year, however, I am reminded that God's first creative act, even before God brought the sky and earth into being, was to create light. Darkness already existed on the face of "chaotic waters" (Genesis 1:2). Yet as God's spirit glided over it, God created light, choosing not to inject the light into the darkness, but rather to create it as a distinct entity which God proclaims to be good (1:3).