Home Featured Jewish Learning Rachael Turkienicz on Parashat Bereshit

Rachael Turkienicz on Parashat Bereshit

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(Wikimedia Commons photo)

This week we begin reading the Torah from the beginning. The first parashah, Bereshit, documents the beginnings of life on Earth. These concepts show a structural organizing of chaos. Things are commanded to behave a certain way, which begins the ongoing relationship between all created entities and God. In fact, the very existence of anything depends on its interaction with God and its place within the greater vision.

Everything that appears within the week of Creation depends on something that precedes it. These chapters present a beautiful blueprint of interdependent design and collaborative harmony. The final piece is the creation of humanity.

We are so familiar with this narrative that we no longer ask questions of the subtleties that present themselves. The first thing introduced into the darkness is light, and then we are told it is evening, it is morning. But, up to then, there was only light and darkness, so evening and morning is a blend that had not been created. In fact, day and night should switch instantly, as if a light switch is turned on and off.

Evening occurs when darkness intrudes into the light and morning occurs when the opposite happens. These intrusions are a push toward the return of chaos. It is the grey, undecided portion of order where opposites can co-exist.

God creating the universe is not the abolishment of chaos, but rather the superimposition of order upon it. We do not need to actively bring about chaos, we simply need to refrain from creating order. The midrash states that chaos is a thin green line that surrounds the created universe, waiting to push inward.

The well-known statement that evil abounds when good people do nothing is the ultimate result of the first lesson of Genesis. We must actively work at the organized flow of our world, our homes and our lives to exhibit the divine image that lies within us all.

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