Bereishit (Genesis 1:1-6:8 )
GOOD MORNING! It makes sense that if there is a God Who created the world and created us for a purpose, that He would communicate to us what is the purpose of creation and of our lives. Furthermore, He would inform us and instruct us on the important insights and principles for us to best make use of our lives to be productive, meaningful, healthy, happy, wise - to enhance our relationships and to grow spiritually.
This is the Torah - the 5 Books of Moses. The very word "Torah" means "Instruction." We often refer to it as "Toras Chaim" -Instructions for Life. It is the "Owner's Handbook" for life!
Many people think of the Torah as a story book somewhat akin to fairy tales. Since their Jewish education ended as young children perhaps with their Bar or Bat Mitzvah, their understanding is limited to their memories of what they were taught as children. A person can be a PhD level in physics and on a kindergarten level in his knowledge of Torah.
Now there is a new book, Genesis - The Untold Story by Lisa Aiken and Ira Michaels which helps us understand the messages our Creator is communicating to us in His Torah. In truth, it is not the untold story. It contains the wisdom of the ages that has been taught from the time of the giving of the Torah on Mt. Sinai. It is only an "untold" story to those who haven't heard it!
The authors explain how modern, intelligent people can understand these stories and apply their moral and spiritual insights to our daily lives. The book unlocks treasures and divine information; it makes accessible the keys to making the most out of our lives. It analyzes verses, explains concepts and has special sections titled "Implications for Us" to bring home the ideas. Below is an insight from the book about the command the Almighty gave to Adam and Eve not to eat from the Tree of Good and Evil:
"God didn't want people to take the easy route to immortality by eating from the Tree of Life after eating of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, but rather by perfecting themselves spiritually. Were people to live forever without striving for moral perfection, corrupt people would always control the world and subvert the divine plan for it.
"There is an idea that God wanted Adam to eat of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, but only after first eating from the Tree of Life. Adam needed to first internalize how to properly use knowledge before eating of the fruit of that tree. He could have done so by not eating the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge until God allowed it. Had Adam eaten of the Tree of Life by obeying God, God would have allowed him to eat from the Tree of Knowledge after the first Sabbath began. Eating the fruit then would not have had negative consequences.
"The Tree of Life is a metaphor for Torah (Divine) knowledge, which expresses the Divine Will for us. The only way to really appreciate and enjoy the intellectual, physical and emotional pleasures of life is by first understanding how God wants us to partake of the physical world.
"Unfortunately, Adam thought that he knew more than his heavenly Parent did. He decided to experience life and knowledge first, then learn God's will for him. This rationalization led to a fatal error that we also make. Like Adam, once we taste forbidden fruit, we internalize the wrong desires and can be readily misled.
"We can now understand what happened after Adam sinned. If the Tree of Life in the Garden were an easy road to immortality, it would have been disastrous for Adam to live forever after being corrupted. One sin would have led to another and he would have had no motivation to improve either himself or the world. So, God put angels - spiritual beings who only do their Creator's will - near the Tree of Life to prevent people from becoming immortal in the wrong way.
"We must journey on the road less traveled and actualize ourselves by using the Torah's directives to overcome moral struggles and challenges, not take the easy way out. As we morally perfect the world and ourselves, the Tree of Life will once again be accessible to us."
The book is available at your local Jewish bookstore, at judaicaenterprises.com or by calling 877-758-3242.
For more on "Bereishis" go to ShabbatShalomAudio.com!
Torah Portion of the Week
The Five Books of Moses begins with the Six Days of Creation, the Shabbat, the story of the Garden of Eden - the first transgression, consequences and expulsion; Cain & Abel, the ten generations to Noah, the Almighty sees the wickedness of man in that generation and decrees to "blot out man" (i.e. the flood).
One of the most profound verses in the whole Torah is "And God created man in His own Image." Since God does not have a physical being, this means that we are endowed with free-will, morality, reason and the ability to emulate God Who bestows kindness. Also, if we really appreciate that we are created in the image of God, we realize that we have intrinsic worth. Therefore, there is no need to be depressed wondering if you have intrinsic worth!
* * *
based on Growth Through Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin
The Torah states:
"And the earth was desolate and void, and darkness was upon the waters ... and the Almighty said, 'Let there be light' and there was light." (Genesis 1:2-3).
What insight into living can we learn from this?
The Chofetz Chaim, Rabbi Yisroel Meir Kagan, used to say that these verses at the beginning of the Torah serve as a tremendous inspiration in times of darkness. At the beginning of creation, the world was completely dark without even the faintest hint of any light. One cannot chase away darkness with sticks and axes. However, just kindle one small match and the darkness is gone.
When the entire world is in total darkness, one statement of the Almighty, "Let there be light" is sufficient to light up the whole world! This idea is taught to young children as soon as they begin studying Torah. Although there are times when the world is encompassed by a spiritual darkness which endangers its very existence, there is always hope. In one instant the Almighty can send forth His word and there will be a great light.
Whenever you feel despair it is because you tell yourself that things are presently awful and that all is hopeless. At such moments you do not feel it possible that there will be a bright future. If, however, you keep in mind that the Almighty has the power to shine forth a magnificent light, you will overcome your negative attitude of despair. From the bottom of your heart you will call upon our Creator to shed light upon the world.
Even before the light appears, you will be full of hope. You realize that the darkness itself is part of the Almighty's plan. Whenever you feel darkness, develop the habit of repeating, "Let there be light." Just by repeating these words over and over you will begin to feel the light of the Almighty penetrating your heart and soul. Even if your personal situation remains as it is, when you experience the Almighty's light you will have the strength to deal with any situation from a position of spiritual strength. The salvation of the Almighty comes in the blink of an eye!
CANDLE LIGHTING - October 24
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QUOTE OF THE WEEK:
There is no greater disease
than the loss of hope.
-- Rabbi Yisroel Salanter
In Loving Memory of
The Almighty's comfort to David,
Barbara and their families
Rabbi Kalman Packouz
Click here for Rabbi Packouz's bio
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