Parashah Bereshith (Genesis 1 – 6:8) In the Beginning

What can I say about the creation of mankind?

Don’t worry- I’ll find something, I’m sure.

Seriously, I re-read this parashah and saw something that I hadn’t seen before- it was when I was reading the commentary in my Soncino Edition of the Chumash. The Rabbi talks about how the second chapter is not a different creation, but a defining of certain parts of the the general description of creation given in Chapter 1. That made me think how Yeshua did not redefine the Torah but defined it; in other words, as Chapter 2 of the bible gives more specifics so we better understand Chapter 1, Yeshua gave us a more specific, deeper understanding of the Torah. He didn’t re-write it or create a new religion (you can blame that one on Constantine), all He did was more accurately tell us what God meant. He taught us more than the letter of the Torah- He taught us the spirit of it.

I also see in this parashah the entire plan of salvation. We start with nothingness, which becomes formation of the earth, the separation of land and sea, earth and sky, growth of vegetation, creation of animal life and, finally, creation of man and woman and life in perfect communion with God. Then what happens is sin, which comes between people and God, causing the separation from His constant presence. We no longer are able to commune with God in both the physical and spiritual realms simultaneously- the garden is out of reach for us from that point on. Next we see the sin of disobedience to God grow into the sin of covetousness leading to aggression- Cain murders his brother. Then that sin leads to more sin when Cain lies to God.

We went from perfect communion with God in a paradise to expulsion into a cursed world where sin is growing as fast as the population. And the sin continues to grow to such a level that God has to intervene and destroy the sin that abounds in everyone. Well, nearly everyone- in all the earth there is only one who is favored by God, and that one is Noah.

What I see this morning in this parashah that I hadn’t seen before is that Noah is the first representation of Yeshua; through one man sin entered the world and through one man the world will be saved (you can find that in Romans 5, 1 Corinthians and I think it is also in Hebrews.) The difference is that Yeshua will save those who are living from spiritual death. Noah didn’t save anyone from spiritual death, or even physical death, but he was the salvation of mankind, meaning that through him mankind would be revived and continue to survive.

Through Noah mankind received a second chance to live on earth, and through Yeshua mankind received a second chance to live in paradise.

There is another reference to salvation- a new creation. The earth and all that was on it was destroyed, except for the select of animals and men. A human family, 7 pair of clean animals and one pair of unclean animals (there was Kosher even before there was Kosher!) were saved through one man- Noah. His righteousness was their salvation, and through his descendants, the salvation of humankind. Just like Isaiah 53:

But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.

Unfortunately, as we all know, this new start was not much better than the old start, but God had promised no more floods, so He is still standing by and waiting for the right time to finish this and start anew. We are not quite there yet (although I believe we are really, really close), but this time He will do it once and for all.

I think it is amazing that there is so much in God’s word that we read, over and over, and never see until the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) opens our eyes, our spiritual eyes, to see what God has had there for us for millennia.

Maybe this interpretation, this Drash that I present to you, isn’t so new. Maybe it’s been discussed by many others before; in fact, I am sure it has been. I’m not so great that I am going to open up the world to a new truth from the word of God. But I like it- I like how suddenly it seems so clear to me. Perfection is ruined by sin, sin takes over the weak and faithless, the elect (those who remain faithful) are saved from the world’s destruction, and we are given new life in a new world. And in the new world the rules change: before the flood there was no rain but after sin entered the world we need the rains or we have no food; the cultivation of God’s creation has gone from very easy to very hard. Before the flood all life ate of only the herbs and the fruit that was provided in the garden, but now we eat the animals and the animals eat each other (and us.)

Maybe after this world is gone and the final, new creation is here we will go back to a vegetarian way of life, the lion and the lamb will lie together because they also will go back to being vegetarians, and the cultivation of God’s creation will again be simple. We will be constantly in God’s presence, as it was in the beginning. This time, though, we won’t have trees that we can eat from and trees we can’t because those of us who are saved through Messiah will already have the knowledge of good and evil, and having had this knowledge while living in the world but still remaining faithful will entitle us to the eternal life that was refused to Adam and Eve.

There won’t be need for rules in the new creation because the Torah will be written on our hearts, and as has been proven time and time again throughout history, what is on our hearts is what guides our actions. Today the hearts of people are full of sinfullness, so sinfullness is what we do. When the Torah is written on our hearts, then Torah will be what we will do.

The Rabbi’s says that Torah should be a mirror, so when we look in it we see ourselves. That is not true today, but it will be in the new creation. That’s what Shaul (Paul) means when he tells us that now we see dimly through a glass (1 Corinthians 13) but then we will see clearly. Sin clouds our sight (as well as our judgement) but in the new creation we will see clearly.

I love Simchat Torah (Joy of Torah- the eighth day of Sukkot) because we get to start reading God’s word all over again. His word is who He is, so the more I read it the more familiar I am with it, and the more familiar I am with it the closer I am to God.

How close are you to God? If you want to be closer to God, then get more familiar with His word.

Parashah Bereshith (In the Beginning)

This Shabbat we joyfully open our Torah, and just like in this parashah , we begin at the beginning.

This first of the cycle of parashot is a little long, going all the way to Chapter 6, verse 8. It covers the beginning of everything, takes us through creation of man, Cain and Abel, and ends with God’s reluctantly regretting His creation and deciding He needs to start over. The whole Earth is full of sin and wickedness, all except Noah.

What I see in this is the entire plan of God’s salvation. I see creation, the world forming, people coming to know each other and God, then rejecting His rules and killing each other, lusting after their own desires. I see God patiently waiting for people to come back to their senses, which will eventually lead them back to God. But it doesn’t happen. Noah is the only righteous one in the world, and through him there will be a new life, a new beginning, and his descendants will live in a new Earth that will be formed from the remains of the previous one.

It’s not a perfect picture of the Messiah and the Tribulations, true, but I see the same elements in this parashah as we will see when all things come to pass. We have mankind (Adam and Eve) in union with God, but then they break their union by sinning. They are mercifully allowed to live, but no longer in perfect communion as they are ejected from God’s presence. They are fruitful and multiply (one of the more enjoyable commandments to fulfill) but sin is still here, in a cursed world, and although there are some who will form a union with God (Abel), there are those who will not (Cain). And we see that evil will hate and attack righteousness, out of jealousy and frustration. These emotions are the children of the mother of all sin, Pridefulness. Cain’s pride was hurt when God accepted Abel’s sacrifice but rejected his. The Soncino version of the Chumash explains that Abel gave the best he had and his heart was right, but Cain’s heart was not right and his sacrifice was, therefore, unacceptable. Cain’s pridefulness resulted in jealousy, which led to the inevitable result: murder.

Here’s my take on the way things played out, and (if I may say so) I think it is a good template for most every sin:

1.Cain’s pride prevented him from humbling himself;

2. Unhumbled, his frustration grew each time his sacrifice, still unacceptable, was rejected;

3. His frustration grew into anger as he continually saw Abel accepted while he was continually rejected;

4. His anger grows, and without humbling himself he couldn’t direct it at the source (himself) so he projected it against God and Abel;

5. Cain couldn’t do anything against God but he could take out his anger on Abel;

6. Result: the first murder.

Maybe the ultimate sinful expression of our own situation won’t be murder (God forbid!) but it could show itself as gossip, maybe hating in our heart (which Yeshua said is murder, anyway), maybe violence, verbal abuse, adultery, who knows? I believe that pridefulness is the foundation stone upon which almost every sin rests. It is a vicious cycle.

Now the world’s population grows and sin grows with it. There is righteousness, which we see coming through Seth’s bloodlines, but (just like today) the sin is greater than the righteousness. Even in the beginning, those who are God fearing are but a remnant, and it has remained that way even until today. Ultimately, judgement comes with only one chance of survival, and that is through only one man, Noah.

I am not saying that Noah is the Messiah, or ever was supposed to be. What I am saying is just that I see the plan of salvation being shown to us, in a way, in this parashah. It is a “teaser”, like the TV commercial about a new movie shows you pretty much what the story is about, without giving away the details. Creation, sin, loss of perfect communion with God, sin vs. right throughout the world, one righteous man chosen to begin a new relationship with God, judgement and destruction, renewal and a new beginning on a new Earth.

Of course, with Noah things started going downhill almost right away. We can be thankful that with Yeshua, and the “real” final judgement, those  of us who are of the remnant (the Believers who follow God’s laws and commandments as He gave them, not as religion tells us)  will have eternal communion with God, basking in His presence. We will see the new Heavens and the new Earth, and we will return to the way it was in the beginning, before sin entered the picture.

Every Simchat Torah we can look forward to what the Torah, and particularly this parashah, is showing us- that we will return to Gat Eden, we will once again be in the physical presence of the Lord God (Adonai Elohim), and we will be eternally joyful and serene.

I love each time I start reading God’s Word all over again.