These and Those

Musings from Students of the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem

Thoughts on Berashit by Ronit Rapoport

Posted on November 2, 2010 by Eryn

Tags: , , , , , , ,

After learning פרשת בראשית I began to see a lot of parallels between the stories of this chapter and the world we are living in today. If we look at the stories of בראשית we see the beginning of man and at the same time the downfall of man. Starting with the story of חוה and the tree, we see a change in humanity. It is in this story that the concept of desire is portrayed. God says that man can eat from all the trees of the garden and only the tree of good and evil he can’t eat. Desire is a feeling that often shows itself by making us want what we can’t have as per in the example. By taking something that wasn’t supposed to be taken אדם and חוה now were now fully aware of themselves and therefore made clothes for themselves. It is here that we see the first glimpse of the decline of man and the world as a whole.

I think the starkest connection between the world today and פרשת בראשית is towards the end where the world is in complete disarray. Chapter six begins with people increasing over the land, thus seemingly fulfilling the מצוה of פרו ורבו. Verse two states “ויראו בני אלוקים את בנות האדם כי טבת הנה ויקחו להם נשים מכל אשר בחרו” “The sons of gods saw the beauty of the daughters of man and they took for them as wives the choicest ones.” One could read this as the sons of gods forcibly took for themselves wives or that they mutually took wives for themselves. Taking women forcibly is one of the ways that we see the downfall of man. There appears to be a loss of human dignity if one reads it accordingly. According to the Ibn Ezra a commentator on the Torah the sons of god are the sons of Seth, and the daughters of man are the daughters of Cain. If we understand this to be true then we see the mixing of lines. Is this good for the world? Probably not as this is a tainting of lines mixing a “pure” line (Seth) with a “murderous” line (Cain). This mixing of lines may have been for good intentions but as we see countless times throughout תנ”ך good intentions often turn into something bad. From this story we see the exploitation of the masses by the elite. This is an example of evil spreading throughout the land which in the end is one reason that God destroys the world.

Although there are many other examples like this to show the connection between the world today and what we can learn from פרשת בראשית I feel that these two really stand out.

It is important to realize and internalize the messages that God sends us and that we take matters into our own hands and help heal this world so that we do not end up destroying this wonderful world that God has provided for us. May God watch over us and see that we do not become too arrogant and not forget that from dust we came and from dust we shall return.