Parashat Bereshit

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weeklyParasha for the Week: Bereshit: Gen:1:1 – 6:8
Haftarah for the Week: Isaiah 42:5 – 43:10
Apostolic Writings: Mark 10:1 - 16

Overview:
In the beginning, G-d creates the entire universe, including time itself, out of nothingness. This process of creation continues for six days.

On the seventh day, G-d rests, bringing into existence the spiritual universe of Shabbat, which returns to us every seven days.
Adam and Chava - the Human pair - are placed in the Garden of Eden.
Chava is enticed by the serpent to eat from the forbidden fruit of the “Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil,” and in turn gives the fruit to Adam.
By absorbing “sin,” Adam and Chava render themselves incapable of remaining in the spiritual paradise of Eden and are banished.
Death and hard work (both physical and spiritual) now enter the world, together with pain in childbirth.
Now begins the plan of salvation G-d established to save humanity from sins, salvation will come from an offspring of the women, known later as the Mashiach. This salvation will be the main subject of world history.
Cain and Hevel, the first two children of Adam and Chava, bring offerings to G-d. Hevel gives the finest of his flock, and his offering is accepted, but Cain gives inferior produce and his offering is rejected. In the ensuing quarrel, Cain kills Hevel and is condemned to wander the earth.
The Torah traces the genealogy of the other children of Adam and Chava, and the descendants of Cain until the birth of Noach.
After the death of Seth, Mankind descends into evil, and G-d decides that He will blot out Man in a flood which will deluge the world. However, one man, Noach, finds favor with G-d.

"Uniqueness of Man in Creation"
The Torah states: “Then G-d said, ‘Let us make ADAM (man) in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth’.” (Genesis 1:26 ESV). According to Rabbi Hirsch, the term Adam is not derived from Adamah, but on the contrary: it is Adamah that derived from Adam. Moreover, man is not defined by his earthliness. For his earthly origin is what he has in common with the other creatures, whereas the uniqueness of man is that he is not created entirely from the earth: the breath of G-d, breathed into his earthly frame — that is what makes him into man. The very fact that a grand announcement is made here testifies that the term Adam signifies man’s exalted purpose. The prophet Ezekiel affirms “And you are my sheep, Adam (human sheep) of my pasture, and I am your G-d, declares the L-rd G-d.” (Ezekiel 34:31 ESV). The term Adam is certainly not conceived of here as a mere block of earth.

"Unity of the Human Race"
Even though the Torah is the foundation of Judaism and the most important revelation for Jews, it does not start with the story of Israel or the Hebrews or the Jewish people, but with the story of Creation. “Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, after Our likeness!” (Genesis 1:26 TLV) All men, Jews and non Jews are descendants of Adam and Chavah. There is an intrinseque unity of all mankind we cannot deny, and make all distinction of “race” obsolete. What modern research have demonstrated—the concept of anthropological concept of race of the 19th century is wrong, especially since the discovery of DNA, is affirmed by the Bible. There is only one race on earth, the human race we are all coming from one common ancestor, and we are all brothers and sisters on the earth.

“Appreciating the Dignity of the Human Body”
The Torah states: “So G-d created man in his own image, in the image of G-d he created him;” (Genesis 1:27 ESV) This phrase is repeated here several times, emphasizing that man’s physical frame is worthy of G-d and of man’s godly purpose. The Torah thus teaches us to recognize and appreciate the Divine dignity of the human body. Indeed, the Torah’s purpose is not only to hallow the spirit, but also to hallow the body. This is the basis of all human morality: The human body, with all its drives and energies, was created in a form worthy of G-d and man’s duty is to sanctify his body, in keeping with his godly purpose. That is why the Bible is interested to keep our body in good health, saying what is good to eat and what is not good to eat (cf. Leviticus 11).
That is why also Rabbi Shaul, the Shaliach wrote to the believers who were in the Greek city of Corinth, “do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from G-d? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify G-d in your body.” (1 Corinthians 6:19–20 ESV). Glorifying G-d is not only in our spirit but also in our body, which has been created at the image of G-d. Rabbi Hirsch reminds us that “Sanctification of the body and preservation of man’s Divine form are the cornerstone of all moral refinement and the condition for all spiritual ennoblement and the higher the spirit seeks to ascend, the greater the demand for bodily sanctity. When G-d established a covenant with Israel and thus reestablished human’s purpose, He started with the mitzvah of Milah (circumcision), which was performed in the body, which means that the covenant is not only a matter of spirituality (spirit) but also involve the body and his sanctity as the temple of Ruach Hakodesh.

HAFTARAH: Isaiah 42:5 – 43:10
This text of Isaiah is read in parallel with the Text of Bereshit to remind G-d’s people why the earth and heavens have been created and why G-d has also created his people.
Everybody on the earth is part of the creation of G-d, everyone receive the breath of G-d and his spirit. “Thus says G-d, the L-rd, who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spread out the earth and what comes from it, who gives breath to the people on it and spirit to those who walk in it:” (Isaiah 42:5)
His people has been given a special covenant, a great privilege, but also a commission to be a LIGHT TO THE NATION, “I am the L-rd; I have called you in righteousness; I will take you by the hand and keep you; I will give you as a covenant for the people, a light for the nations,” (Isaiah 42:6)All the nations are going to sing to the L-rd and to praise him for his goodness. “Sing to the L-rd a new song, his praise from the end of the earth, you who go down to the sea, and all that fills it, the coast-lands and their inhabitants.” (Isaiah 42:10). But G-d’s people is deaf and blind. He is not ready to deliver the message of the almighty. “Listen, you that are deaf; and you that are blind, look up and see! Who is blind but my servant, or deaf like my messenger whom I send? Who is blind like my dedicated one, or blind like the servant of the L-rd?” (Isaiah 42:18-19)
The L-rd will forgive his people and will call them again his witnesses, “Bring forth the people who are blind, yet have eyes, who are deaf, yet have ears! Let all the nations gather together, and let the peoples assemble. You are my witnesses, says the L-rd, and my servant whom I have chosen, .” (Isaiah 43:8-10).
Because he redeemed them and loved them, But now thus says the L-rd, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; … For I am the L-rd your G-d, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior… you are precious in my sight, and honored, and I love you, … Do not fear, for I am with you; … everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.” (Isaiah 43:1-7).

APOSTOLIC WRITINGS: Mark 10:1 - 16
I am starting here a new series of study of the gospel of Mark. This study was already published a few years ago. A PhD thesis has demonstrated that the gospel of Mark was written in the first century, to be read by the so called Judeo-Messianic (first Jewish community of believers in Yeshua) in parallel with the parashyot. The first believers in Yeshua followed the biblical calendar, which give the month of Nissan as the first month of the year. Thus, according to this calendar, the cycle of the gospel reading was from the month of Nissan to the month of Adar. Since Bereshit is read right after Sukkot, and the gospel starts at the time of Pesach, we are already in the chapter 10 of Mark.
Thus, the first part of Mark 10, is read in parallel with Genesis 1 to 6, that means the narration of the creation and the origin of human beings on earth. In Genesis we have two stories of the creation, the first one on Genesis 1:1-2:3 and the second one in the following verses of the chapter 2. If God has given us two versions of the creation, it is not to contradict himself, neither to let us know that the creation was not an historical event. The creation was really an historical event at one time of history that the Bible place about 6,000 years ago. Of course, it is difficult to understand or to believe it, especially on our days when “scientists” wants to convince us that the famous big bang occurred more than 14 billions years ago. Some scholars have seen in the text of Genesis a gap between the verse 1 which was the creation of the Universe, which could be the famous Big-Bang or even an older event, and the rest of the narration 1:2-2:3 as the specific organization of the planet earth and the creation of its contents. However, if we depend our faith on what scientists teach, we will never be sure of anything. That is why I prefer to follow the advice of Yeshua in this text of Mark who says: “Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” (Mark 10:15). Thus, like a child, I prefer to continue to believe what the book of Genesis teaches rather than human speculations. Genesis 1 and 2 therefore have been written in a way to teach us something, to give us a lesson. It is exactly what Yeshua did when he was on the earth, this chapter of the Besorah (gospel) starts saying: “And he [Yeshua] left there and went to the region of Judea and beyond the Jordan, and crowds gathered to him again. And again, as was his custom, he taught them.” (Mark 10:1).
One of the very important functions or roles of the Messiah on earth is to teach us about the kingdom of God. from the verse 2 we see the intentions of the Pharisees: “Pharisees came up, and to test Him” (Mark 10:2). The question asked, and the following discussion between Yeshua and the Pharisees are about marriage, divorce and re-marriage. A topic in direct relation with the parasha of this week. Because it is in this parasha Bereshit that God has established the best rules for our life. The Lord knew what the best for our life is and said: “It is not good for the man to be alone. Let Me make a well-matched helper for him.” (Genesis 2:18) and then after creating the first human being he created a help for him: “The L-rd G-d caused a deep sleep to fall on the man and he slept; and He took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh in its place. The L-rd G-d built the rib, which He had taken from the man, into a woman. Then He brought her to the man. Then the man said, ‘This one, at last, is bone of my bones and flesh from my flesh. This one is called woman, for from man was taken this one’.” (Genesis 2:21-23) and God celebrated the first marriage: “This is why a man leaves his father and his mother and clings to his wife; and they become one flesh.” (Genesis 2:24) and he blessed them.
Human beings are never satisfied with God’s order, and the Pharisees came to Yeshua with this question: “Is it permitted for a man to divorce his wife?” (Mark 10:2). For Yeshua the answer is clear, if Moses gave permission for divorce it was “Because of your hardness of heart he wrote you this commandment! But from the beginning of creation, God ‘made them male and female. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, let no man separate!” (Mark 10:5-9), for some people who like to “taste” several spouse or as we say it today “sex-friends” these words of Yeshua are hard, but in fact it is because our heart does not like to follow God’s will. And as Yeshua refers to it, our reference should be the order of the creation. It is time to follow the creation’ order, it is time to be faithful to the will of the Lord even on private and intimate matter as relationship between man and woman and marriage.

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