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Bereshit

October 21, 2022
27 Tishrei 5783
PARASHAT BERESHIT
Genesis 1:1 - 6:8

All my life's a circle;
Sunrise and sundown;
Moon rolls thru the nighttime;
Till the daybreak comes around.

 All my life's a circle;
But I can't tell you why;
Season's spinning round again;
The years keep rollin' by.

                                               Harry Chapin

 

We just celebrated Simchat Torah with music, dance, prayer, and Torah. As we danced together in circles over and over again, we were unwittingly acknowledging that our circles bring us back again and again to the beginning. Even as we dance, the steps are never exactly the same. We are constantly changing.

We unfurled the Torah scroll and were reminded that, as we embark on a new year of reading and studying together, we are not who we were the last time we engaged with the text. Once more it offers us an opportunity to find meaning and to be reminded that the Torah is a complex document. That complexity asks us to reject a simple understanding of the human condition. We are creatures endowed with great potential, neither inherently bad nor good. Rather, our life choices are our own. The way we travel through our lives depends in large measure on the ways in which we take responsibility for our actions.

Many of us grappled with these thoughts over the High Holydays. As we begin reading the Torah once more, it is important to hold on to a concept rearticulated by Rabbi Shai Held: “Judaism’s view is that we are called to be world builders; God believes in our ability to renew ourselves, and to make real and deep contributions to realizing a more, just, decent, and compassionate world.”

 

The challenge, as we begin our journey through the Torah, is to understand that even as flawed as our matriarchs and patriarchs appear to be, their stories have much to teach us if we just take the time to engage -- which is true in every aspect of our lives.

Thu, July 18 2024 12 Tammuz 5784