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A Clear and Present Evil

Parashat B’reishith(Gen. 1:1–6:8) is the beginning of everything. The sacred algorithm we call Torah—which means Instruction— details a richly transcendent creation narrative, wrapped in enigmatic language and embedded with scientific concepts.


B’reishith, the first word in Torah, contains six Hebrew letters, alluding to the six “days” of creation. Embedded in B’reishith is the word sheth meaning Foundation. Proverbs 3:19 tells us, “By wisdom, God laid the foundation of the earth. He established the earth by understanding.”


The fact that B’reishith is an exhilarating mix of metaphor and symbolism that, at times conceal its subject, is itself a lesson: Our God is hidden from mortal eyes. That concealment allows us Free Will. God created the earth and saw that it was good. We emulate God when we choose to do only Good. The moment we open B’reishith, we choose to accept or reject the Creator of all things.


Also in this Torah portion we read that Adam is created from the dust of the earth. The Sages tell us that he was fashioned into a human being on the Foundation Stone. Genesis 2:7 teaches that God “forms” (yitser)HaAdam.


Yitser contains two yuds, revealing that Adam Rishon was formed with two unique aspects, the yetser ha tov and yetser ha rah—what we call a conscience—the ability to choose good or choose evil. HaShem formed us in His image, so that we can access wisdom and understanding. We achieve that by fearing God and embracing Torah as key to all knowledge and understanding, making us co-creators with the Creator. We can form our lives for good, build our world and establish it, according to Torah.


The parsha also describes what happens when people vainly imagine they don’t need God.


Violent lawlessness(Hamas) rules.


As I write these words, we are witness to mindless, bloody carnage visited against the people of Israel by Hamas, who the media labels “militants” or “freedom fighters”. They are nothing but thuggish murderers who attack innocent Jews, whose mutilated bodies, like all of us, are created in the image of God. This abhorrent desecration can mean only one thing...those who support Hamas financially and vocally have chosen to reject the most basic of precepts of God's instructions.


Torah is also a book of laws by which Israel is to govern. Rashi asks: Why begin these laws with the Creation narrative? Because it serves as a response to those who accuse His nation of stealing the Land: "Israel may reply to them,"All the earth belongs to the Holy One, blessed be He. He created it and gave it to whom He pleased.....He took it from them and gave it to us” ( from Yalkut Shimoni)


Clearly, total acceptance of God and the people who God entrusted to teach His Torah is the key to building our lives and, most importantly, our world. We achieve that by acknowledging that we are co-creators with the Creator. If we are to survive we must choose to form our lives for good, build our world and establish it, according to basic precepts of Torah.

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