The Torah portion, or parasha, this week is Bereshit and is found in Genesis 1:1-6:8. We have finished our Torah reading cycle and we begin again in Genesis with the story of beginnings–creation. When God began to create the heaven and earth, everything was chaotic, unformed, and empty. Through a very orderly process, God brings into being different aspects of creation each day, until the world is a beautiful place with plants, animals, and people who reflect God’s image. God finalizes creation by blessing the seventh day as a day of rest. God places Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden and instructs them not to eat from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil; however, both Adam and Eve eat the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil and later blame each other and the serpent for the deception. God clothes Adam and Eve and they are asked to leave the garden. Eve gives birth to Cain and Abel, who choose different lives. Cain, jealous that God does not honor his sacrifice but pays heed to Abel’s, kills Abel and consequently must leave the area to wander the earth. Eve again bears a son named Seth who grows up to be a godly man and people began to call on the name of the Lord.
In this portion, we see God taking chaos and making things orderly and meaningful. God makes people in God’s image and they become partners in creation. However, they also struggle with the concepts of good and evil and the choices they make either add to the chaos and create division (e.g. Adam and Eve blaming one another, Cain killing Abel), or they help fill the emptiness of their world and make the world more meaningful (e.g. taking care of the earth, raising families). At the end of the portion, Seth chooses to follow God and live righteously, influencing others to do the same. Currently our world is a little more chaotic and there is more division. May we remember that the choices we make can lessen the chaos around us and make the world more hopeful, meaningful, and fulfilling, and that our choices for good can also inspire others to do the same.