The Portion of Bereishit

Genesis 1:1-6:8

The book of Genesis, and indeed the entire Torah, opens with the story of creation. We are told that God took six days to create the world we know, and on the seventh day He rested. Once man walks the Earth, the story shifts its focus to him. We are told of Adam and Eve’s poor choices in the Garden of Eden, resulting in their expulsion, and the rivalry of their children, Cain and Abel. The generations between Adam and Noah round out the portion.

 

The Israel Bible cites Rashi, who explains why the Torah, essentially a book of law (the word “Torah” means instruction), would begin with stories, especially the story of creation. Rashi says this way, when the nations of the world accuse the Children of Israel of stealing the land, the Jews will be able to point to the Bible and declare that God, who created it all, chose to give the Holy Land to Abraham and his descendants.

 

The first Hebrew word in the Torah is Bereishit, meaning “in the beginning”, while the final word is Yisrael, or Israel. Thus, the first and last letters of the Torah can be combined to spell the Hebrew word lev, meaning “heart”. As the Israel Bible points out, this reminds us that the Torah is the heart of the Jewish people and an expression of God’s love for humanity.

 

 

Topic 1: Two Stories of Creation

The first two chapters of Genesis tell the story of creation. The first provides an overview of the six-day process, while the second zooms in to detail the creation of Man specifically.   The Bible tells us that first, God created Heaven and Earth, then goes on to provide some of the details of that… Read More »

 

 

Topic 2: The Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil

After learning about the creation of Woman, we now read about her first experiences. We are told that the sly serpent entices her to partake of the forbidden fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, which she subsequently shares with her man. Having internalized the knowledge that the tree was meant to… Read More »

 

 

Topic 3: Cain vs. Abel

The Torah tells us that Adam and Eve have two sons, Cain and Abel. Abel is a shepherd, while Cain is a farmer. each brings an offering to God from the fruits of his labors, but while Abel’s first of his flock is accepted by God, Cain’s offering is rejected. Cain becomes incensed, and God… Read More »

 

 

Topic 4: Genealogies

Following the story of Cain and Abel, the Torah recounts the genealogies of Adam and Eve’s children, starting with Cain’s descendants and their accomplishments. The Torah relates a brief, strange story of one descendant, by the name of Lemech, who has two wives. One day he calls his wives together to tell them he has… Read More »

 

 

Topic 5: Haftarah - The Bible is Our Mandate

After a devastating period of Arab violence in Mandatory Palestine, the British conducted the Peel Commission in 1937 to determine how best to divide Eretz Yisrael between the Jews and Arabs. It was the Peel Commission where they first recommended dividing the land according to the ‘Partition Plan’.  During the course of the hearings, David… Read More »
Skip to toolbar