Thursday, October 19, 2006

Parashat Bereshit

Bereshit Chapter 1 is characterised by a mood of strict obedience and total surrender before the divine word, the command of the Almighty.

"By the word of God the heavens were created and by the spirit of his mouth all
its hosts ... He spoke and they came into being, he issued a command and they
stood." (Tehillim 33).

Reading the chapter we witness an immediate response to each creative statement : "And the Lord said, let there be light ... and there was light" (Bereshit 1:3) God creates the world by the "ten utterances" (see Avot Ch.5). through which He commands his world to come into being, and each order is directly followed by it's execution. An atmosphere of submission permeates the chapter. It is its hallmark and theme. God is the all-powerful creator, commanding and demanding by his very will. And the world responds as an obedient servant.

But yet, despite this atmosphere of God's mastery and His absolute control over the world, the Midrash rather surprisingly raises a completely contrasting image:

1:11 “etz pri - God intended (and commanded) that the wood of the
trees would taste like their fruit (etz pri). But it did not do this. Instead,
'The earth brought forth trees that bore fruit (etz oseh pri) and not trees that
were fruit (etz pri). Because of this, when Adam was cursed for his sin, the
earth was punished too ... "

In place of an inanimate world, without independent will, responding to the command and desire of the architect of all creation, the Midrash prefers to talk of a world which springs into life resonating with an identity and will all of it’s own. The Midrash portrays the creation as if it were independent of G-d or even more extreme, that the world is rebelliously defiant of God's will!

Read more here

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