Photo Credit: Jewish Press

In the history of a people, as in that of an individual life, things don’t always go as planned. One of the most important messages that we as Jews have is learning from our fathers and forefathers, and from what is written in the Torah.

From the beginning of time, we can learn from every story and from the characters we meet every week in the parsha. We learn how to behave in our everyday lives, and how we would like to bring up our next generation.

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When one looks at the entire first portion of the Torah, it can help us understand how necessary it was to mention the names of the many people whose names and lives are mentioned in the beginning of the book of Bereishit. They all had unique relationships with G-d, and from then till today we can learn so much just from the many names that were listed in the beginning of the Torah. I always remind myself of this when I read that not only were Adam and Chava created on the 6th day of Creation, but Cain and Abel were also born then, before anyone ate from any forbidden tree.

Moreover, the portion of Bereishit spans a period of over 1,000 years. Even though we are given some details, it is obvious that we are getting only the events that are most crucial to the future of mankind. But if it is so concise, why do many verses toward the end seem superfluous in listing people’s names and ages. It must be that even these words have inner meanings for our benefit.

In the beginning of time till this very day generations keep on coming and going. There are some families which come from prominent rabbis and others from poor, unfortunate families. Some from rich ones and others from famous people and yet others that nobody really knows. The point made is that every soul is important and each one has its own story to tell and its specific path that he or she must go on – according to where they come from and what job they have to do here in this world. Therefore, in mentioning all the names in the first two portions of the Torah reading, there is a message to us. Not only do we all come from a special and unique family, but our missions here are special and unique and different from each other.

This past week I had the great privilege of marrying off my son in the United States. The wedding and the simcha were beyond words. And what made the whole event even more special was knowing what a long way my son had come from his youth to this very amazing moment.

When a child is born and we give them a name, we really have no idea how this child will develop and in which way this little neshama will grow. We nurture our babies, we try to teach, we make all the effort to give love to this child as much as we can, and we still don’t know what path G-d has in mind for them. So when a child finally stands under the chupah and gets married, it is only natural that our thoughts and feelings, especially those of the parents, are to ponder back all of the years and generations and events that have taken place in the years since this child’s birth. One may only marvel at how amazing Hashem is that he gave us our families and the strength to carry on no matter what obstacles come into our path from the day we are born.

In this week’s parsha we hear all about the story of Avraham. We hear what type of family he came from and how far he went, leaving it all behind and following the words of the Almighty.

We all have a name, and we all have a past. We all have a choice of making our future as good as it can be in accordance with who we are and where we came from. We are all special and can be a light onto the world as was Avraham. Some have a job of lighting the world, other’s their town or surroundings and neighborhood. And some lighting the light in their own home, and some of being able to light up the flames within their own soul.

Listing all the names in the Torah is so important because it tells us how important we are even if we feel that we are just a name and an age. Let us always remember that from the beginning of time we can see the many different ways of serving G-d. We have different children with different ways of worshiping G-d. And this goes on in every generation. Each one finds the best way for them to live in the path of Hashem.

May we each find our special way of having a relationship with G-d and yet respect one another if their way of finding closeness to Hashem is different from ours.

And may we be proud to be ourselves no matter which level we are on. All our names are written in the Torah and we all have our special message to relay onto the world.

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