Beresheet (In The Beginning) Parsha – Weekly Torah Portion
TORAH : GENESIS 1:1-6:8
PROPHETS : ISAIAH 42:5-43:10
GOSPEL : JOHN 1:1-18
From ancient times there has been a weekly portion (Parashah) from the first five books of Moses (The Torah) and an ending (Haftarah) from the Prophets read on the Sabbath in synagogues around the world. This portion is given a Hebrew name drawn from the opening words of the Torah passage.
We have found that in perusing these weekly readings, not only are we provided opportunity to identify in the context of God’s Word with millions of Jewish people around the world, but very often the Holy Spirit will highlight specific passages pertinent that week in our intercession for the Land and people of Israel.
The Haftarah, unless otherwise noted, will be that read in Ashkenazy synagogues around the world.
The NEW CYCLE BEGINS!
This weekend the cycle through the Torah begins anew. This first reading is called Beresheet—“In the Beginning”.
*Genesis 1:1-5. “In the beginning Elohim (English: God) created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. Then Elohim said, “Let there be light; and there was light. And Elohim saw the light, that it was good; and Elohim divided the light from the darkness. Elohim called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, one day.”
As we open to the first chapter of this divinely–breathed (II Timothy 3:16) book, ELOHIM—GOD is simply there–creating. The SPIRIT of God is there (vs 2).. And as God speaks, His living WORD is there (Vs 3; John 1:1). Elohim is a Hebrew word translated into English God. It is a plural word, which could be translated “gods” or “exalted beings”—yet, when referring to the Hebrew God Who is over all, it is always accompanied with a singular verb.
*Genesis 1:3. “God said: ‘Let there be light!’ And there was light.” The Scriptures do not say that God “created” light (God Himself is light, I John 1:5). Rather, He spoke it forth—“Be light!”—and it was released into His creation! John 1:1-9 speaks of Yeshua as being God’s Word, in whom was life “which is the light for men”.
There are a number of words used for God’s actions during these early “beginnings” chapters: creating (from nothing that is seen, Hebrews 11:3); making; building; fashioning or shaping (out of something already created); working (Interestingly, for bringing into being the “adam” (man) in His image, both the acts of creating and fashioning are used (Genesis 1:2, 2:7)..
*Genesis 1:5. “And there was evening and there was morning, one day.” Today, in Israel all days for religious observance (such as the Sabbath or feast days) are reckoned from sundown the evening before rather than sunrise.
*Genesis 2:3. “And on the seventh day Elohim ended His creative work which He had done, and He ceased on the seventh day from all His creative work which He had done. Then Elohim blessed the seventh day and sanctified it (Hebrew: “made it holy”), because in it He ceased from all His creative work which Elohim had created and made”. It is significant that the first place in Scripture in which we see God making something “holy” or “set apart” is here in relation to the seventh day of the week when He shabbat—“ceased working”.
*Genesis 1:27. “So God created man in His image, in the image of Elohim He created him; masculine and feminine He created them.” “Man” in Hebrew is adam. In Genesis 2:7, we are shown that Elohim formed the adam out of adamah—“earth” (which, in turn, is adomah—“reddish in color”). The modern-day Hebrew term for “human being” is still benei-adam—“son (or child) of adam.” From this passage it is clear that God, although always referred to in the masculine gender, bears, nevertheless, within His nature both the masculine and feminine which is transferred into the nature of those created “in His image”.
By the end of Chapter 3 that image is marred and what had received the breath of life is, because of sin, already dying. In 4:1 the man and woman have begun to reproduce, and realize that their Creator and the One through whom this new life comes has a name, YHVH (Yehovah, “The LORD”). Their sons bring offerings to this YHVH (4:3). Yet it will be many generations before Humankind comes to know and use that Name in a personal and intimate sense (Exodus 3:15b; 6:2-3).
In Genesis 4:8 murder is committed, and Abel, a good man whose sacrifice pleased God, becomes the first man to die. It is notable that Abel’s name in the Hebrew is spelled the same as the Hebrew word for “vapor” or “vanity” (This word both begins and permeates the book of Ecclesiastes which we have been reading during the feast of Succot.). Life is but a vapour which is here and passes away; the lives of Abel the good and that of Cain the wicked are both temporary.
*Genesis 2:24. “Therefore a man (Hebrew: ish) shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his woman (Hebrew: isha), and they shall become one flesh” (NKJV).
Here the Creator lays out clearly right at the beginning and for all time His ordained order for his human creatures’ being joined together in what we call marriage (His Son, the Messiah Yeshua, would corroborate it in Matthew 19:4-6). Attempting to become ‘one flesh’ in any other kind of relationship besides “man and woman” steps outside of this ordained order, and is strictly forbidden for all humankind (Leviticus 18:22-23; 20:13,15; Romans 1:26-27). The holy alternative “for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven” is celibacy (Matthew 19:12).
*Genesis 4:26. “And as for Seth, to him also a son was born; and he named him Ehnosh.”
It was perhaps with an awareness of the death of his brother Abel, as well as of the sin-sickness obviously at work in his eldest brother Cain that Seth chose to name his first son Ehnosh. Ehnosh is often translated into English “man” (Psalm 8:4, “What is man (ehnosh) that You are mindful of him, and the son of man (ben-adam) that you visit him?”). The most-used word for “people” is anashim—a plural of enosh. But at its root, the word more literally means “mortal”. Just as English “mortal” has to do with that within man which dies (“mortuary” is related to that word), so ehnosh has within it a reference to the fallen effect of sin in the children of Adam. Ehnush, a word using the same Hebrew letters, appears in Jeremiah 17:9 where it says that the heart is deceitful above all things and “desperately wicked” (NJKV), “desperately sick” (ESV and NAS), “beyond cure” (NIV).
By Genesis 6 the earth is corrupted through sinful man in conjunction with rebellious angelic beings. “Then YHVH saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually…So YHVH said, ‘I will destroy the man (Hebrew: the adam) whom I have created from the face of the earth’ (Hebrew: the adamah).
But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD!”
To “find grace in the eyes of” is an expression which is still common in Modern Hebrew, meaning “to bring pleasure to.”
PLEASE PRAY: that today, when “as it was in the days of Noah” (Matthew 24:37), we are faced with a rapidly rising darkness of evil on the earth, there will also arise, not one, but a multitude of latter-day “Noah’s”—who will bring pleasure to their LORD, who will “walk with God”, who will “find grace in His eyes.” The English translation of a popular Hebrew worship song, written some years ago by an Israeli Messianic teenager reads:
Come Spirit, Come Spirit, Come today
The Desire of my heart is to find grace in your eyes
The desire of my soul is to be more like you
Come God, Dwell within me, Make me pure
Focus my eyes on what pleases You that I may be devoted to You
*Isaiah 42:5-7. “Thus says God the LORD, Who created the heavens and stretched them out, Who spread forth the earth and that which comes from it, Who gives breath to the people on it, and spirit to those who walk on it: ‘I, YHVH, have called you in righteousness, and will hold your hand; I will keep you and give you as a covenant to the people, as a light to the Gentiles, to open blind eyes, to bring out prisoners from the prison, those who sit in darkness from the prison house.’”
*Isaiah 43:1-3b. “But now, thus says the LORD, who created you, O Jacob, and He who formed you, O Israel: ‘Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; You are Mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk throu8gh the fire, you shall not be burned, nor shall the flame scorch you. For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Saviour.”
*Isaiah 43:5-7. “Fear not, for I am with you; I will bring your descendants from the east, and gather you from the west; I will say to the north, ‘Give them up!’ and to the south, ‘Do not keep them back!’ Bring my sons from afar, and my daughters from the ends of the earth—everyone who is called by My name, whom I have created for My glory; I have formed him, yes, I have made him.’”
*Isaiah 43:10. “‘You are my witnesses,’ says the LORD, ‘and my servant whom I have chosen, that you may know and believe Me, and understand that I am He. Before Me there was no God formed, nor shall there be after Me.’”
[The readings for next week (15-21 October) are called Noach—“Noah”. TORAH: Genesis 6:9—11:32; HAFTARAH: Isaiah 54:1—55:5. Since 21 October is Rosh Hodesh–the beginning of the Eighth Month (Cheshvan), some Synagogues will close with a reading from Isaiah 66:1-24.]
In A Nutshell
Beresheet (In the Beginning) is the first portion in the Torah (Pentateuch). It tells the story of the creation of the world in six days, and the rest on the seventh day. It talks about the creation of the man, his arrival at the Garden of Eden, and the creation of the woman. The portion also narrates the story of the sin of the tree of knowledge, Cain and Abel, the generations from Cain to Lamech, the ten generations from Adam to Noah, the corruption that engulfed their generations, and the renewed hope that emerged with the birth of Noah.
Beresheet contains more stories than any other portion in the Torah. In many ways it is also the deepest of the portions, as it discusses the basis of our being—the creation of the soul.
The common soul was created out of the will to receive delight and pleasure, or simply, “the will to receive.” That will is the soul’s core, and it’s affected by six qualities: Hesed, Gevura, Tifferet, Netzah, Hod, and Yesod. These qualities penetrated the substance—the will to receive—and designed it in synchrony with the upper force, the Creator. The reason why man is called Adam is that the word Adam comes from the word Adamah, from the verse, Adameh la Elyon (“I will be like the most high,” Isaiah, 14:14), since he is similar to the Creator, the sublime bestowal, sublime love, to that upper force that gave birth to it.
Adam is the structure of the soul that is equal in form to the Creator and is in Dvekut [adhesion] with Him in the Garden of Eden. A garden means “desire.” The garden is the part of the creature, Adam’s substance—the will to receive. Eden marks the degree of bestowal, degree of Bina. Adam, who is on the degree of Bina, is in the Garden of Eden.
This does not pertain to our world or to the universe we know, but rather to the common soul that the Creator created. From the very beginning, the common soul undergoes a special preparation, the sin, because at its inception it was adhered to the upper force, which means that it had no authority of its own, nothing to its name, or any sense of independent existence. In a sense it is like an embryo in its mother’s womb—on the one hand it exists, on the other hand it is part of its mother, and each of its actions is ruled by its superior.
Such is the structure of the soul. While it is in the Garden of Eden, the place itself does not permit independence. Independence means that a person is beyond someone’s control, a state of being ready to assume self-control. The structure of the soul is the creature, the created being. The word Nivrah (creature) comes from the word Bar (outside). In order to allow the structure of the soul to actually become a creature, it must be taken out, removed from the Creator. Put differently, it must be made opposite from the Creator, and this oppositeness is obtained through the sin.
Explaining the Sin
The soul consists of two forces—Cain and Abel. Abel wants to exist by raising the Hevel (breath/vapor), meaning the Reflected Light, or bestowal. Cain is the opposite, wanting to draw all the pleasures, all the lights, inward, into the soul. Cain—the quality that draws the pleasure, the light to itself and not for the sake of the Creator—draws it until Abel, the desire to bestow, disappears. This act is called “Cain’s killing of Abel.”
The Kli (vessel) of the soul that receives light not for the sake of the Creator shatters into pieces—bits of self-centered desires. Each such desire is an individual soul that becomes enveloped in a wrapping that is similar to a Klipa (shell/peel). During the formation process of the broken souls, additional falls and descents occur along the spiritual degrees to the point where we are here in this world, each of us having a part of the single, common soul that was created.
It is precisely because we are detached from one another by our egos, immersed in the will to receive instead of in the will to bestow, that we now have an opportunity to correct. Because in the past we were already corrected, today we can begin to correct the ruin and sin that took place in the past. Although we aren’t the ones who committed the sin, within us, in our souls, is a preparation for a state that enables us to carry out the correction.
This correction is called “repentance,” constituting a return to precisely the state in which we were in the Garden of Eden. We must hurry and achieve that state because the whole world is already moving toward connection. This process that the world is going through is moving us toward unity, connection, and the perception of ourselves as a single soul. Thus, when we are all in bestowal and mutual love, we will succeed in returning to the structure, the state we maintained prior to the sin.