In the Beginning
Bereisheet 5768 – In The Beginning
by Rabbi Adam Ruditsky
Shalom Yisrael , White Plains, New York
I had a friend who used to say that the Bible was all about baseball and even more so the Yankees! After all, it starts out by saying, "in the big inning," obviously referring to the house that Ruth built, reminding us of Purim and the Jewish people. I know that it is the end of the baseball season except for those fans whose teams are entering the post-season playoffs, but baseball is called the American pastime, so why not? My son Joel is a big baseball fan and in February something magical happens for him–spring training signals the beginning of the baseball season. Well, Genesis 1:1-6:8, or the portion Bereisheet (in the beginning), signals the beginning of the Torah cycle for another year, and the beginning of so much more.
This portion begins with the creation and the making of mankind in God's image. It continues with the story of Adam and Eve and the dominion of humans over everything else, God-mankind fellowship, sin, deception, family, consequences, murder, promises, curses, serpents, angels, lineages and the like. A famous saying about the beginning of our scripture comes from Rashi, who asks, "v'ma ta'am pa'tach biv'raysheet," or what is the reason that [the Torah] began with the Book of Genesis? After all, consider how Pirke Avot (Ethics of the Fathers) begins:
"Moses received the Torah from Sinai, and handed it down to Joshua, and Joshua to the elders, and the elders to the prophets, and the prophets delivered it to the men of the Great Synagogue. They said three things, 'Be deliberate in judgment; raise up many disciples; and make a fence about the Torah.'"
Rashi asks this because he knows the Jewish concern is Torah, so why begin with the Book of Genesis and maybe not Exodus 20? Genesis shows "The power of the His acts He told to His people," Rashi explains that in Genesis God is established in power to be the one who would give us Torah at Sinai. Hence, in the beginning the same God, of whom it is said, "By the word of the LORD the heavens were made, And all the host of them by the breath of His mouth" (Psalm 33:6), met Israel at Sinai. "And God spoke all these words, saying . . ." (Exodus 20:1). The creation of the world and the giving of the Torah are closely related. In fact, according to Jewish tradition,
Israel, Torah and the Messiah were among the six things that "preceded the creation" to be revealed to mankind (Genesis Rabah 1:4).
This can be seen in the words of 1 Peter 1:11, speaking of the prophets who wondered about "what manner of time, the Spirit of Messiah who was in them" would be revealed, the same Spirit of Messiah that was before the creation.
Today, I am going to speak about the Messiah as he relates to both creation and beginnings. First, I would like to talk about the creation as it relates to the Jewish people. Let's begin by looking at Jeremiah 31:35-36: