Bereishit (Genesis 1:1-6:8)

After enough time has passed, I often forget details of what I’ve written.  Thus, I find the comments below fresh even though they are 8 years old.  Jokes are newly found, though.

There is simply too much to ponder in this week’s portion for it to be allotted only one week. 1456 years (if I added correctly) in the first five chapters.  Not only do we have a plethora of stories and characters, but each of those stories contains something significant to think about.   The two different Creation stories, the tree of knowledge and expulsion from paradise, fratricide, murder more generally, multicentenarians, lead us to contemplate all sorts of things, such as (or, in patentese, “examples include without limitation”): 

        What existed before Creation? 
        What was the light that was present before the sun and stars?   
        Why was man created?  Note that it is not until man has been created that we read that God saw that what was created was “very good,” not merely “good.”  Was man created to rule over the earth (first creation story) or to till and tend to the Garden of Eden (2nd story)?  My choral group is (was, in 2009) practicing a piece called “God’s Trombones” in which God looks at all creation and feels…lonely.  That seems as good a reason as any for the creation of man and ties in nicely with the pronouncement that “it is not good for man to be alone.”   
        In one Creation story, man and woman are created at one time; in the other, Eve is created from Adam’s rib and is indirectly responsible for the banishment from Eden.  Why did the latter story subsequently overwhelm the former?  And why a talking serpent? 
        The first murder is fratricide – why?  What are the (depressing) implications? 
        Why did the early humans we are told about live so long? 
        There are other little mysteries, like, what happened to Enoch, who did not die but was “taken by God” at a mere 355 years of age?  And what’s all that stuff in Chapter 6 about divine beings (?) cavorting with the daughters of men, who give birth to the Nephilim (giants?)?   

You see why I want more than one week for this portion! 

Rabbi Robert Harris, in his d’var Torah “The Torah and Its Clearly Ambiguous Message. (Or: ‘In the Beginning, There Were . . . Commentaries!’)”   asks us to consider just the first two words, B’reishit bara.  This is commonly translated, “In the beginning, (God) created” But that’s not accurate. “Barishonah” means “in the beginning.” “B’reishit” means “in the beginning of(something)”, and that’s how it’s used elsewhere in the Bible.  Rabbi Harris then relates how the great commentator Rashi deals with this problem on two levels. Rashi presents not only a literal text meaning (“in the beginning of the creating of…”) but riffs on “reishit” using references the equate “reishit” to Torah and to Israel.  And, while “b‘ ” usually means “with” or “in,” it can also mean “for the sake of.” Thus, Rashi’s midrashic version becomes, “for the sake of Torah/Israel, (God created the heavens and the earth).”   Rabbi Harris notes the new JPS translation: When God began to create heaven and earth—the earth being unformed and void, with darkness over the surface of the deep and a wind from God sweeping over the water—God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light.  That’s pretty much in line with Rashi’s literal meaning.  All that from considering just the first two words of the Torah. 

Shabbat shalom, 


tph methuselah's sweater


Eve’s Online Dating Profile

Sex: Female

Age: About 15 minutes since I was invented, but I don’t look a minute over ten minutes old
Location: Over by some ferns
Height: A tall vine
Weight: A bunch of sticks
Body Type: Only female type there is
Favorite music: Birds
Favorite movies: Birds
Favorite food: Birds
Hobbies: Being tempted, birds
Profession: Woman
Personality: VERY easily tempted
Turn-ons: Adam, birds
Income level: A handful of beautiful sticks
Looking for: The only other person in existence

From Science … For Her by Megan Amram (Scribner), copyright © 2014 by Megan Amram


The Garden of Eden

One day in the Garden of Eden, Eve calls out to God, “Lord, I have a problem!”

“What’s the problem, Eve?”

“Lord, I know you’ve created me and have provided this beautiful garden and all of these wonderful animals, and that hilarious comedy snake, but I’m just not happy.”

“Why is that, Eve?” came the reply from above.

“Lord, I am lonely. And I’m sick to death of apples.”

“Well, Eve, in that case, I have a solution. I shall create a man for you.”

“What’s a ‘man’, Lord?”

“This man will be a flawed creature, with aggressive tendencies, an enormous ego and an inability to empathize or listen to you properly. All in all, he’ll give you a hard time. But, he’ll be bigger and faster and more muscular than you. He’ll be really good at fighting and kicking a ball about and hunting fleet-footed ruminants, and not altogether bad in the sack.”

“Sounds great,” says Eve, with an ironically raised eyebrow.

“Yeah, well. He’s better than a poke in the eye with a burnt stick. But, you can have him on one condition.”

“What’s that, Lord?”

“You’ll have to let him believe that I made him first.”


Parshat Bereshis – On 1 Foot  ADMIN — MAY 23, 2006

The world is created, and then Man sins

God: Do-over.



Adam and Eve (2014)

Adam was returning home late one night at paradise after drinking with the dodo and the unicorn. Eve got angry and yelled at him, “YOU ARE SEEING ANOTHER WOMAN.”
Adam responded, “Don’t be silly, you are the only woman on earth,” and went to sleep.
Later that night Adam woke up. feeling a tickle in his chest and saw it was Eve.
“What the heck are you doing?” he asked.
“I’m counting your ribs,” she responded.

What did God say after creating Eve?
“Practice makes perfect.”

Adam to Eve: “I’ll wear the plants in this family!


The story of creation as told by a dog 

On the first day of creation, God created the dog.

On the second day, God created man to serve the dog.

On the third day, God created all the animals of the earth (especially the horse) to serve as potential food for the dog.

On the fourth day, God created honest toil so that man could labour for the good of the dog.

On the fifth day, God created the tennis ball so that the dog might or might not retrieve it.

On the sixth day, God created veterinary science to keep the dog healthy and the man broke.

On the seventh day, God tried to rest, but He had to walk the dog.

———————-  (sent out in 2013)

Creationism or Evolution?

One day the zoo-keeper noticed that the orangutan was reading two books– the Bible and Darwin’s Origin of Species.
In surprise, he asked the ape, “Why are you reading both those books”?
“Well,” said the orangutan, “I just wanted to know if I was my brother’s keeper, or my keeper’s brother.”

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