Thoughts on Parashat Bereshit

The festival of Sukkot and Shemini Atzeret for this year is now a memory, but its memories go with us through the year. A posting on FB sums this up well, “we are to bring into our home all the rich experiences we have received during the Festivals of Tishrei, and put them into use throughout home, work and lives.” As with all aspects of our journey with Hashem, we are to remember His goodness, grace, and comfort – not only because He has done it for us in the past but because He will continue to do the same in our present and in our future. It is part of His character that HE revealed to Moshe when He said,

God answered Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” Then He said, “You are to say to Bnei-Yisrael, ‘I AM’ has sent me to you.” God also said to Moses: “You are to say to Bnei-YisraelAdonai, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, has sent me to you. This is My Name forever, and the Name by which I should be remembered from generation to generation. (Exodus 3.14-15)[i]

The God of Israel is ever present with His people in every situation, and with those who call upon His name with all of their hearts. There may be times when His presence is difficult to see or recognize – but He is there all the same.

This week, we begin the Torah reading cycle once again with Bereshit, (Genesis 1.1 – 6.8), which records an account of creation. The Genesis creation account does not answer all the questions that scientists or rationalists would like answered. The answer lies in one of my favorite verses (if you have been following these thoughts of mine for a while, you will recognize it),

“The secret things belong to Adonai our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever—in order to do all the words of this Torah.” (Deuteronomy 29.28, .29 in English)

Recognizing that there are some things have not been revealed to us and that we must trust the LORD to know what is best is an act of faith. That does not mean that we cannot search out the unknown and ask questions, but it does mean that we may never find the answers for which we are looking.

In reading various commentaries on this week’s parasha, I came across the following from

It is interesting that at the beginning of the Torah we are told seven times that all that God created was good. We are then told of the one thing in God’s world that wasn’t good: “It is not good for man to be alone” (Genesis 2:18). … The Torah is telling us that we can be in the perfect environment, with every conceivable pleasure in the world, but if we are missing one vital ingredient, we might still be miserable. Everyone needs someone to share things with: someone to take us out of ourselves and extend our sense of generosity, whether in terms of sharing physically, emotionally, or spiritually.[ii]

In the immediate context, we see that Hashem remedied the potential problem by making the man a “well-matched helper” (2.18, TLV). The inference here however, is not one direction but bi-directional. The man and the woman are ideally matched to help each other, to guard one another’s blind spots, and to keep one another strong in the presence of the LORD. Last Shabbat, during Sukkot, we read in Kohelet (Ecclesiastes) that two are better than one and three are even stronger (cf. Ecclesiastes 4.9-12).

In this week’s Haftarah, Isaiah 42.5-21, Hashem proclaims through the prophet

“I, Adonai, called You in righteousness, I will take hold of Your hand, I will keep You and give You as a covenant to the people, as a light to the nations, (Isaiah 42.6)

Following on the idea that two are better than one, the God of Israel desired and still desires to take Israel by the hand, keeping her strong and safe as a “light to the nations.” Israel was never meant to be a “light to the nations” in her own strength. Rather, Israel is a light to the nations as she reflects her relationship with her God, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Equally, as believers in Yeshua, it is not our light that others see, but the reflected light of Yeshua shining through us.

The reading from the Apostolic Writings, John 1.1-18, is often said to be a commentary on creation account in Genesis 1. In John’s account, the enabling power of creation is the Word of God (John 1.1) reminiscent of the nine times in Genesis 1 where it is recorded “and God said…”. Likewise, from the very beginning it was the light of the Holy One which was to be reflected in the world, “In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overpowered it” (John 1.4-5). We might not always recognize the “Light” but that does not negate the presence of the “Light.” Yeshua was with the Father in the beginning, (John 1.1) and He holds all creation together until today (Colossians 1.17).

This Shabbat, we have an opportunity to answer the call from the LORD. In Bereshit, the man hid from the LORD (Genesis 3.9). Later, in the Akedah, Hashem called to Abraham (Genesis 22.1) and instead of hiding, Abraham answered “Hineni,” “I am here.” Will we hide from the Light or run to it, the choice is always ours to make?

Shabbat Shalom

[i] Unless otherwise noted, all Scriptures are from the Tree of Life (TLV) Translation of the Bible. Copyright © 2015 by The Messianic Jewish Family Bible Society.