Beresheeth / In the Beginning
HafTorah Portion Isaiah 42:5-43:10
Brit Chadasha John 1:1-5
We Begin Again…
To begin one has to simply begin. When we begin something, we put faith in ourselves to begin and we apply faith into the course that we are to begin. To change a flat tire, we put faith into our ability to do so, and we have faith that the jack will hold.
Beresheeth is the beginning of us. It is the beginning of the water we feel, the earth that we plant in, the produce that we eat. It is the beginning of life and death. It is the beginning of the understanding of God.
There is a question at the heart of our faith, and it is very rarely asked. As we begin Beresheeth we see God creating the universe day by day, bringing order out of chaos, life out of inanimate matter, plants and trees in all their wondrous glory. At each stage God sees what He has made and declares it good. He declares that it is tov.
It was good, so what then went wrong? How did evil enter the picture, setting in motion the drama of the Torah, the entire Scriptures and our lives today? The answer is man. We, alone have freewill, choice and moral responsibility. We choose our daily actions, we create habits, we choose the path we take. Cats do not debate the order of killing mice. Cows do not worry about global warming. Fish do not decide to swim.
So, why did God create man? The account of creation is the sacred account of God towards man and is a document of faith. God created the heavens and the earth and so creating the place where the values of His Torah could be put into practice, to create perfection. Creation is an order so that man could complete creation within himself as a person completed in accordance to The Creators will.
This is how we begin. We begin by trusting Abba, and obeying His Word. The very first sentences lead us to faith in Yeshua, that is where we often begin, putting our faith into Him, learning the truth, and growing forward with faith in God’s faith, not our own.
Genesis 1:1 states: ‘Beresheeth bara Elohim Aleph-Taf ha shamayim v-et ha-aretz.’ ‘In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.’ The Hebrew word here is et spelled Aleph Taf, which are the first and last letters of the Hebrew alphabet and are used to describe God’s Son in the Renewed Covenant. Colossians 1:16 and Proverbs 30:4 confirm that the Son is the true Creator and the Father is the Master designer.
‘For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him.’ Colossians 1:16.
‘Who has ascended into heaven, or descended? Who has gathered the wind in His fists?
Who has bound the waters in a garment? Who has established all the ends of the earth?
What is His name, and what is His Son’s name, If you know?’ Proverbs 30:4.
The last of the Scriptures takes us back to the beginning as Yeshua declares in Revelation.
Revelation 1:8 ‘“I am the Alpha and the Taf, Beginning and End,” says the Lord, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”
Revelation 22:13, “I am the Alpha and the Taf, Beginning and End, the First and the Last.”
Revelation 21:6-7 ‘Then He said to me, “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Taf, the beginning and the end. I will give to the one who thirsts from the spring of the water of life without cost. He who overcomes will inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be My son.’
Revelation 1:17-18 ‘When I saw Him, I fell at His feet like a dead man. And He placed His right hand on me, saying, “Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last, and the living One; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades.’
Isaiah 41:4 ‘Who has performed and accomplished it, calling forth the generations from the beginning? ‘I, the Lord, am the first, and with the last. I am He.’”
Ecclesiastes 3:11 ‘He has made everything appropriate in its time. He has also set eternity in their heart, yet so that man will not find out the work which God has done from the beginning even to the end.’
Isaiah 44:6 “Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts: ‘I am the first and I am the last, and there is no God besides Me.’
Isaiah 48:12 ‘“Listen to Me, O Jacob, even Israel whom I called; I am He, I am the first, I am also the last.’
Isaiah 46:10 delivers us to our purpose and the God we serve: ‘Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things which have not been done, saying, ‘My purpose will be established, and I will accomplish all My good pleasure…’
We begin and end with Yeshua, with His purpose, for our destiny is not our own, but that of Adonai. As Yeshua states in John 7:16, ‘Yeshua answered them and said, “My doctrine is not Mine, but His who sent Me.’
Beresheet / In the Wilderness
We are entering back to the beginning. That might seem like a misnomer – back/beginning, but the Hebrew cycle is circular not linear. We start in Beresheet which translates ‘In the Beginning’. There's probably no other Torah portion that's received the same amount of analysis and discussion as Beresheet, maybe because the entire thing is incredibly mysterious. The Hebrew is often difficult, there are references to events that were well-known at the time but now might seem far from us. This portion covers creation all the way up to the introduction of Noah.
Beresheet contains the first three blessings; the creatures of the air and sea, mankind and Sabbath. This parsha also contains the first curses; the serpent, the ground and Cain.
Beresheet begins with Hebrew words that translate – ‘In the beginning, Elohim created the heavens and the earth.’ The root of beresheet is rosh which has more to do with the “head” or the “beginning” of something, rather than an association with “time” as Elohim is completely outside of time. This gives us an expression of the greatness and vastness of Adonai. We can also make the connection with Yeshua, who is the living Word who was in the beginning as stated in John 1:1-3 –‘In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with Elohim, and the Word was Elohim. 2 He was in the beginning with Elohim. 3 All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.’
Genesis 1:1-2 ‘In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.’ God is telling us that His creation was empty, void and dark, which seems to be a polar opposite of what God truly is. Why was the earth dark? Could this have been the result of the choshek / chaos of Lucifer?
Ezekiel 28:13 references Lucifer: ‘You were in Eden, the garden of God; Every precious stone was your covering: The sardius, topaz, and diamond, beryl, onyx, and jasper, sapphire, turquoise, and emerald with gold. The workmanship of your timbrels and pipes was prepared for you on the day you were created. 14 “You were the anointed cherub who covers; I established you; You were on the holy mountain of God; You walked back and forth in the midst of fiery stones. 15 You were perfect in your ways from the day you were created, till iniquity was found in you. 16 “By the abundance of your trading you became filled with violence within, And you sinned; therefore I cast you as a profane thing out of the mountain of God; and I destroyed you, O covering cherub,
from the midst of the fiery stones. 17 “Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty; you corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor; I cast you to the ground,
I laid you before kings, that they might gaze at you.’
Yet Isaiah 45:18 tells us that Elohim did not create the earth empty. ‘For thus says the Lord, Who created the heavens, Who is God, Who formed the earth and made it,
Who has established it, Who did not create it empty- Who formed it to be inhabited.
“I am the Lord, and there is no other.
Isaiah 14:12-17 also alludes to hasatan/Lucifer as the one who caused the emptiness of the earth: “How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, you who weakened the nations! 13 For you have said in your heart: ‘I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation on the farthest sides of the north; 14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High.’ 15 Yet you shall be brought down to Sheol, to the lowest depths of the pit. 16 “Those who see you will gaze at you, and consider you, saying: ‘Is this the man who made the earth tremble, who shook kingdoms, 17 who made the world as a wilderness?’
The Brit Chadasha references hasatan as the ruler of the world.
Ephesians 2:1-3 ‘And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.’
Ephesians 6:12-13 ‘For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.’
As we continue in Beresheet we witness The Creator bringing order back into the world. The Spirit of Elohim will first begin to move across the face of the waters as the renewal begins as Genesis 1 reads on. ‘And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters…’ The two witnesses are the first thing mentioned, heaven and earth. These two divine witnesses are a theme throughout Scripture. They are the only solid witnesses that stand before and because of Adonai. They are without fault.
In Genesis 1:3, God creates light, separating it from the darkness. We know that Yeshua is the true representation of light; He is the light of the world/earth. We also know that the darkness is the opposite of light, when the light shines the darkness does not comprehend it.
John 12:46 references that Yeshua has come as Light into the world.
John 3:19 states ‘This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world and men loved the darkness rather than the Light for their deeds were evil.’
John 1:4 states that ‘In Him was life and the life was the Light of men.’
2 Corinthians 4:6 references creation and Yeshua – ‘for God who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Messiah.’
John 8:12 – He is the Light of the world
John 1:5 – ‘The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.’
Ephesians 5:8 states that at one time we were in darkness but now are in the light in the LORD.
Psalm 27:1 states that the LORD is his light and salvation.
Mathew 4:16 speaks of people dwelling in darkness.
Isaiah 58:8 references light with righteousness.
Psalm 119:130 references God’s word to light and giving understanding.
1 Thessalonians 5:5 makes a remarkable connection – ‘For you are all children of light, children of the day. We are not of the night or of the darkness.’
Ecclesiastes 2:13 states that there is more gain in wisdom than if folly as there is more gain in light than in darkness.
Light vs. Darkness. Order vs. Confusion. Truth vs. Lies. Life vs. Death.
We are the children of the Light.
B’reisheet / In the Beginning
Torah Portion: Genesis 1:1-6:8
Haf Torah: Isaiah 42:5-43:11
Brit Chadasha: John 1:11-14
‘And God saw that it was good…’
This Torah portion, Genesis 1:1-6:8 begins the Torah cycle again. We finished reading through the five books of the Torah; Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy and now as Sukkot closes for another year, we open the Scriptures to Genesis 1:1. B’reisheet, In the Beginning.
As Adonai is creating His handiwork; the heavens, the seas, the land, sky, the moon, the sun, the animals and man and woman, He seems to pause and Scripture say more than once, “And God saw that it was good.” It was good because it was perfect, it was glory, it was light, it was, it is, and is Him. In Genesis 1:31, it states: ‘Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good. So the evening and the morning were the sixth day.’
When did it become not good? Genesis chapter three holds the answer.
‘Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?”
2 And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; 3 but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.’ 4 Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. 5 For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate. 7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings.’
Scripture describes the serpent as the most cunning than any beast. Synonyms are: crafty, wily, devious, tricky, deceitful, prudent and shrewd. Then immediately the serpent fills the woman with doubt concerning God and His sovereignty. In one cunning stroke, the serpent gives authority to the woman to rebel to the authority of God, she becomes her own authority and implements the will of her own desire over that of Elohim.
It is often questioned, why do the Scriptures, specifically the Torah begin with creation when Torah translates to teaching and instructions? Torah begins with creation to show that The Creator of the world is owner and ruler of the world. His gift demands title over all. One of the greatest attests to The Creator is in Genesis 1:26 ‘Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness…’ He desired and willed to make us in His image. What a powerful beginning to man. What does that mean? One of the most striking propositions of God’s will is that we are called on, as God’s image, to imitate God. “Be holy, for I, the Lord your God, am holy” Leviticus 19:2. This is repeated in the Brit Chadasha in 1 Peter 1:16. His will is for us to be like Him as we were created in His image and likeness.
However, the will of God is often distorted in our lives as we implement our own will as did Eve. Our will, the choices that we make in life are often determined by other factors rather than doing the very will of God; our desires of the flesh, our wants verses the desire of God. We are not pre-programmed machines; we are persons, endowed with will and given the gift of choice.
Genesis 1 continues with God blessing man, giving him dominion over all and then chapter 1 closes with ‘Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good.’
But what is the point of ‘And God saw that it was good”? This is the hardest of creation to understand. What does it mean to say that “God saw that it was good”? Surely, this is redundant. What does God make that is not good?
This is the clue for us to seek His will and live it. Everything else would be pointless for only His will, His creation is good.
Adonai is good. Tov Adonai.
Rabbi Jay Howard