Image: The first chapter of Genesis inscribed on an egg. In the Israel Museum in Jerusalem. Photo by Sputnikcccp on April 22, 2003. Via wikimedia, some rights reserved.
We’re back at the beginning again, reading, “In the Beginning…” We begin the Torah with two creation stories that have many contradictions, and this week’s Torah portion has both of them. Which one is true? we might be tempted to ask, if we are accustomed to think that there is one correct answer to every question.
So perhaps the first lesson in this scroll is that a good question may have more than one correct answer. Any good mathematician will tell you that there are many problems with more than one right answer.
So it is with Jewish questions.
One may ask, why did we wave the lulav during Sukkot?
An anthropologist might answer, “Because the practice began as an ancient fertility rite, and it is intended to bring on the rain and renew the fertility of the earth.”
A student of the Bible might say, “Because we are commanded to wave it in Levitcus 23:40.”
A kabbalist might reply, “Because when we wave the lulav, we bring together the seven emanations of the Holy and unite them next to our heart.”
A different teacher might say, “Because the four species represent the four kinds of people in the world.”
And yet another Jew might say, “Because it is what my teacher of Torah taught me to do.”
… and they are all quite correct.
Here are some divrei Torah on Parashat Bereshit. Shabbat shalom!
- My Daughter Wants to be More Like Eve – Laurie Cosky Tessel’s daughter
- Whose Torah Is It Anyway? – Rabbi Amy Scheinerman
- Leaving Eden as Equals with Creative Work to Do – Rabbi Sylvia Rothschild
- Always Check on Things! – Rabbi Jordan Parr
- What God Is and What God Is Not – Rabbi Stephen Fuchs
- Signs – Rabbi Rachel Barenblat (poetry)
- Creation: Monkeys or Mudpies? – Rabbi Ruth Adar