The Chumash begins with the Six Days of Creation, the Shabbat, the story of the Garden of Eden, the first sin, the consequences and leaving Gan Eden, Kayin and Hevel, the ten generations to Noach, and the flood.
One of the most profound verses in the whole Torah is “And God created man in His own Image.” Since Hashem does not have a physical being, this means that we are empowered with free will, morality, reason and the ability to emulate G-d who gives us from his kindness. Also, if we really appreciate that we are created in the image of Hashem, we realize that we have intrinsic worth.
In this week’s Torah portion, Bereishit, is when we start to read the Torah from the beginning. Starting all over again? Hardly. We’ve been doing this for centuries. Yet every time we read the Torah, we discover something new. We learn of a different interpretation, delve into a deeper meaning, in order to find some new association with our personal lives. In our lives we are always searching for meaning. The right way to guide our every minute and day.
We all have many different sides to our personality how do we know when and where to act accordingly. When should we be tough, soft, when are we truly honest with ourselves and our surroundings? And when are we just putting on a show. If we are truly authentic, won’t we be subjected to vulnerability? And yet, how can authenticity exist without vulnerability? I don’t think it can. I’m learning that there is strength in vulnerability. The strength that comes with truth, with being genuine. I may want to run away from thoughts and hard feeling I feel in my life, but I desperately want to stay in touch with the truth. Truth is that I sometimes feel inadequate and ashamed and overwhelmed and vulnerable. Allowing oneself to feel these feelings and the sensations helps bring us closer to our inner self and not just worry about the world’s judgments or thoughts of us.
My safety, my self-worth, is not dependent on – nor is it affected by – others, only on my own perception of my own reality. What I wish for myself at the beginning of this year is what I wish for us all.
I want for us to find love, but first within ourselves I want for us to look in the mirror and see beauty, but more than that, when we reflect upon our inner self, to see how beautiful and special we are.
I want for us to feel good about decisions we make, and to own those feelings. Don’t let anyone else claim ownership to our decisions or on our feelings. So in fact we truly see that authenticity cannot exist without vulnerability. I want us to respect our self. If a little red flag goes off in our minds, or our stomach feels queasy, pay attention. Trust your intuition; it will save your life. Our intuition talks to us through many different parts of our body and soul. Be open to them all. Be honest, especially with yourself and always feel that there is a Higher Power watching over you.
Parshat Bereishit is an experience of renewal. The stance which a person adopts on Shabbos Bereishit determines the manner in which he will proceed throughout the coming year
Our Sages teach: “G-d looked into the Torah and created the world. Man looks into the Torah and maintains the world.” The Torah serves as the blueprint for creation; it is the treasure store for the principles and patterns on which our existence is based. Similarly, in the personal sense, the Torah can provide us with guidelines for our individual process of renewal. Each one of us can use the Torah to help us redefine our existence and develop a new means of relating to our environment.
When we study a portion of the Torah’s wisdom, be it a law, a story, or a philosophical or ethical concept, we are not just collecting information. Instead, we are uniting our minds with Hashem’s wisdom. He is the author of those laws, stories, and concepts. Through this study, we are aligning our minds and through them, our entire personalities to function in accordance with Hashem’s wisdom and desire. There is a superficial purpose and a primary purpose.
For example, a lawyer is rushing to court. If questioned as to why he is rushing, he will explain it is so that he will not be late for the judge. But is this really why he is rushing? A more inner purpose is that his job depends on his performance. It is his job performance which is his focus, not the judge. But is this really why he is rushing? A more inner purpose again is not really the job performance, it is the need for money. Deeper still, it is not really the money but the purchasing power of the money. So, we see there are various levels to purpose those more superficial and those more intrinsic.
G-d’s purpose in creating the world and recreating it every second is a secondary, not a primary, purpose. The primary purpose was not the creation of the world including plant life, animals and human beings. The real purpose was Torah and Am Yisrael, and in order that Am Yisrael can accomplish its task through Torah, the world was, and is, secondarily created.
The primary purpose of creation was, and is, that Am Yisrael make a dwelling place for Hashem in the world. This physical world. This is achieved by learning Torah and performing mitzvos.
This week sets the tone of the ensuing year, being the first week’s Torah portion. One of the lights that shine from this week’s reading of the Torah, allows a Jew to focus on his ultimate purpose. This is to realize that the world is secondary and that he and his sacred task are primary. When a Jew tunes into his purpose and this awesome responsibility, the by-product is happiness; the happiness that comes from fulfilling the potential of one’s created purpose in life.
May we have a truthful and meaningful year.