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Bereshith Summaries

Bereshith 5777-2016

“The Decline and Fall of Humankind”

In parashat Bereshith we encounter the complicated and esoteric relationship between the בְנֵי הָאֱלֹהִים (Sons of G-d) and the daughters of man, that leads to the downfall of humankind.

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Bereshith 5776-2015

“Seth–Adam and Eve’s Little-Known Son”

While the story of Cain and Abel is well-known, few are aware that Adam and Eve had a third child, named Seth. It is Seth, who plays the decisive role in the perpetuation of humankind.

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Bereshith 5775-2014

“The Sad Destiny of the Firstborn Children”

A prominent feature of the book of Genesis is the struggle for dominance between the first born and the younger siblings. In each instance, the younger sibling is chosen to serve as leader.

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Bereshith 5774-2013

“Beginning at the Beginning–-Again”

While some may argue that the Torah’s primary purpose is to report the history and development of the Jewish people, tradition argues that its primary function is to record and confirm the establishment of the covenant between G-d, the Jewish people and the land of Israel.

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Bereshith 5773-2012

“What is Heaven?”

Even though it is never recorded that G-d said, “Let there be heaven and earth,” we are told that “In the beginning, G-d created the heavens and the earth.” Where and when did heaven and earth appear? Did heaven and earth always exist, or perhaps, was heaven created on the second day together with the water?

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Bereshith 5772-2011

“The Fall of Man”

What really happened in the Garden of Eden between Adam, Eve and the serpent?

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Bereshith 5771-2010

“The Help Meet”

After placing the human being in the Garden of Eden, G-d suddenly declares,”It is not good for the human being to be alone, I will make a help meet for him.” What is the meaning of this cryptic statement?

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Bereshith 5770-2009

“The Hebrew Story of Creation and Its Parallels Among Other Civilizations”

While many are familiar with the Epic of Gilgamish, the Babylonian version of the flood story, few are familiar with the Babylonian epic of creation known as “Enuma Elish.” Although the Babylonian myth contains a few similarities with the Biblical story of Creation, it differs significantly from the Biblical account and its revolutionary purpose.

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Bereshith 5769-2008

“The Development of Civilization as Recorded in Genesis”

The Torah is primarily a record of the theological developments and accomplishments of humankind. Only in an indirect manner does the Torah teach about cultural developments and the evolving skills of society. While it is related almost coincidently, the knowledge found in the Torah regarding ancient civilization is invaluable

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Bereshith 5768-2007

“Starting All Over–Again!”

Many students of the Bible are under the misconception that the five books of Moses come to teach history or theology. The Torah is essentially a book of morality and ethics whose purpose is primarily to explain the very special covenental relationship that G-d has with the People of Israel. The story of creation and the entire book of Genesis come to affirm and elucidate that special relationship between G-d and His people.

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Bereshith 5767-2006

Pardes–the Four Levels of Understanding Torah”

The weekly parasha, Bereishith, marks the renewal of the Torah reading cycle and exposes the true depths of understanding that is to be found in the study of Torah. To say that it contains a “paradise” of knowledge and understanding that is replete with Divine sparks of wisdom is in no way an exaggeration or hyperbole.

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Bereshith-Simchat Torah 5766-2005

“P’roo Ur’voo –Jewish Attitudes Towards Procreation”

As we once again begin the Book of Genesis, we learn about the central mitzvah of procreation, “p’roo ur’voo,” (Genesis 1:28). Judaism diverges from much of Christianity in its forthright and positive attitude towards sexuality. Not only is bearing children a mitzvah in Judaism, but even pleasure in sexuality is a mitzvah. Furthermore, even those who are not blessed with children can bear spiritual fruit, by becoming teachers of Torah or by supporting the study of Torah.

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Bereshith 5765-2004

“‘Naked’ Means More than Naked”

It is no accident that the Torah states that Adam and Eve were both “ah’roo’mim”— naked, in the Garden of Eden and that the serpent was “ah’room”— naked and cunning. Not only was defying G-d by eating the forbidden fruit a loss of innocence for humankind, it also represented the failure of the human being to abide by the only mitzvah that they had been given. And now they were naked. To heal this shortcoming, the human beings are charged to clothe themselves in righteousness, and attire themselves in the words and the spirit of Torah.

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Bereshith 5764-2003

“The Book of Humankind”

In an examination of a single verse in the first parasha of the Torah, a wealth of meaning is to be found. This “Book,” which is in some ways the history of all human, unites the Jewish people and humanity. Alongside the idea that all people stem from one source, there is an allusion to the book that every person writes during the collection of years that is called life. The offspring of the first human, and those of every subsequent human being, are not just his/her physical progeny, but the legacy that he/she leaves to humankind.

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Bereshith 5763-2002

“Being Moral in an Increasingly Immoral Environment”

The early chapters of Genesis inform us of the incredible creativity of the descendants of Cain. The great-grandchildren of the world’s first murderer become the builders, the ranchers, the musicians and the forgers of metal implements of the ancient world. It is as if the Bible is informing us that the great creative forces emerge from the violent person. What exactly is the message that the Torah is trying to convey?

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Bereshith 5762-2001

“The Origins and Meanings of Evil”

When the world was created, Scripture informs us that G-d saw all that He had created and that it was “very good.” If that’s the case, then how was evil introduced? Apparently, evil was introduced when human beings defied G-d. Fortunately, G-d has given humankind the opportunity to repair the world through good deeds and by making human technological progress possible.

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Bereshith 5761-2000

“How to Achieve Immortality the G-dly Way”

The two greatest aspirations of humankind are the desire for omniscience and the desire for immortality. Both of these aspirations are symbolically represented by the Tree of Knowledge and the Tree of Life. However, immortality cannot be achieved through immorality. Fortunately, we can regain entry into the Garden of Eden by following G-d’s instruction. The story of the Garden of Eden may appear to be simplistic, but it is actually one of the greatest lessons for all humankind.

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Bereshith 5760-1999

“How to Achieve Immortality the G-dly Way”

The two greatest aspirations of humankind are the desire for omniscience and the desire for immortality. Both of these aspirations are symbolically represented by the Tree of Knowledge and the Tree of Life. However, immortality cannot be achieved through immorality. Fortunately, we can regain entry into the Garden of Eden by following G-d’s instruction. The story of the Garden of Eden may appear to be simplistic, but it is actually one of the greatest lessons for all humankind.

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