Parshat Bereishit

The Torah restarts this week from the beginning. In this action packed Parshah, the first chapter informs us of each of the six days of creation, as man kind is created on the sixth day (Bereishit 1:26). On the seventh day G-d rested, which brought in to existence the spiritual universe of Shabbat (Bereishit 2:2). Adam and Chava - the Human pair - were placed in the Garden of Eden, created on the sixth day, they were given one commandment by G-d, to not eat from the forbidden fruit of the 'Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil (Bereishit 2:17),’ However the serpent encouraged Chava to eat from it and in turn she encouraged Adam to eat from it, thus they failed to keep the sole command to not eat from that tree.

By absorbing "sin," Adam and Chava rendered themselves incapable of staying in the spiritual paradise of Eden and were banished. Death and hard work (both physical and spiritual) now entered the world, together with pain during childbirth (Bereishit 3:16). The serpent was also punished as the serpent encouraged Chava to sin, for eternity the serpent was cursed to crawl and eat from the dust in the ground (Bereishit 3:14). When G-d asked them if they had transgressed, each of them, the serpent, Chava and Adam passed the blame on to each other. We learn from this how bad lashon hara is and enticing other people to slander can be. The Sages argues that we must understand the evil of Lashon Hara to be equal to the combined evil of the three cardinal sins (idolatry, incest/adultery and murder). It is our job to control what we say about other people, as many individuals lives may be destroyed through cheap gossip, false accusations and baseless hatred. When hearing lashon hara one should try and rebuke the speaker and explain to them why it is so bad, it is highly commendable to look at the good in other individuals as from this weeks reading we learn that we all come from ‘Adam’ originally and we were all made in the image of G-d, it is also commendable to judge people favorably and give the benefit of the doubt. Some sages comment that a person who speaks Lashon Hara about other people may be similar to a snake, The Talmud states that a snake will bite with his poisonous fangs to harm someone with no benefit to itself, This is comparable to the person who commits the sin of Lashon Hara (Taanit 8a).

The Parshah continues with the story of the first two brothers, the sons of ‘Adam’, Cain and Abel. Cain murdered Able in cold blood, as they both offered Sacrifices to Hashem, Abel’s generous sacrifice was accepted, however Cain’s unimpressive sacrifice was rejected; jealousy aroused in Cain’s heart and he then murdered his brother. When initially questioned by Hashem about the murder, Cain replied ‘Am I my brother’s keeper (Bereishit 4:9)?’ however he later did teshuva (repented), and Hashem punished him with exile and death after seven generations, as opposed to a much harsher punishment. His blind great grandson, Lemech, would later on accidentally kill him (Bereishit 4:23-24).

The Parshah continues by listing the descendants of Adam’s third son, Seth, who was born 130 years after Adam was created. One of Seth’s great grandson’s was the righteous man, Chanoch, who lived a total 365 years (a life span which was considered very short before the flood (Bereishit 5:23-24)), many opinions mention that he was the first out of nine people featured throughout the Tanach who never actually died and went straight up to ‘Gan Eden’ alive (Derech Eretz Zuta 1). Other Righteous people who also stayed alive, include, Eliezer, Batya, Pinchus and Serach. After the death of Seth, Mankind descended into evil, and G-d decided that He would blot out man in a flood which deluged the world. However, one man, Noach, found favor with G-d. Noach, his wife, his sons (Shaim, Yefet and Cham) and his son’s wives would survive the flood which will be discussed in full in next week’s Torah reading!! Hope you all had a great week, I would like to dedicate this Dvar Torah to my Grandmother for her well being, her Hebrew name is Esther Bat Rivkah, please pray for her wellness. SHABBAT SHALOM!