“Parsha and Purpose” – Bereishit 5782 
Rabbi Kenneth Brander’s weekly insights into the parsha 

“To Err is Divine: Re-Building and Growth”

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Parshat Bereishit (Genesis 1:1- 6:8) 

“To Err is Divine: Rebuilding and Growth”

וַיַּ֤רְא אֱלֹהִים֙ אֶת כׇּל אֲשֶׁ֣ר עָשָׂ֔ה וְהִנֵּה ט֖וֹב מְאֹ֑ד וַֽיְהִי עֶ֥רֶב וַֽיְהִי בֹ֖קֶר י֥וֹם הַשִּׁשִּֽׁי׃

And God saw all that he had created and it was not just good; it was very good. And it was the end of the sixth day. (Genesis 1:31)

“Everything was very good” – and the commentaries explain that this world was very good, but many worlds that God created earlier were not good, and so he destroyed them, made some mistakes and then recreated them.

This idea is found in the Kabbalah and it is found in the ancient Midrashim. (Genesis Rabba, 9:2  and elsewhere) 

And the question is: what does that mean that ‘God created many worlds’? God, who is infinite, who has all knowledge, He created worlds that weren’t good, and only after destroying many worlds and making some mistakes, he finally created our world, and it was “tov me’od”, it was very good.

What message is there in this for each and every one of us?

When I read these comments that are found in our ancient texts of the rabbinical world, I am inspired, because I think it reminds us that each and every one of us have a piece of God inside ourselves, and to be reminded that sometimes we begin an initiative and it doesn’t work out exactly the way we want, and sometimes we can get depressed.

We can sometimes get paralyzed or upset, but the answer is we can start over again.

We can do it again. We can try again.And there’s nothing wrong with trying again. There’s nothing wrong with making mistakes, as long as you have the courage to try again.

And how do we know that?

Because God himself says to us that He made mistakes and only this world was “tov me’od”, only this world was excellent, only this world was great.

And since there is a piece of God in each and every one of us, it’s a reminder to us: sometimes we mess up. It’s not the end of the world, because even the Creator of the Universe, the Master of the Universe, God, the Infinite Being, He also destroyed worlds and recreated them.

It’s a reminder to each and every one of us of the opportunities that we have, that even when we fail, even when we make mistakes, it only empowers us to do it the next time better.

In fact, when God makes the statement that he created the world, “Vehineh tov me’od,” he has one more commandment, to the being that he created on the sixth day – to humankind.

And the commandment is that God says, you know, I created this world, I created this world of “tov me’od”, of very good. But you, humankind, have to complete it because you, humankind, are my partners. (Genesis 1:28)

What an unbelievable opportunity for each and every one of us.

As the holidays have left us and as we have been inspired by these days, and as we get into the normal routine, let us remember that even God made mistakes and God recreated worlds. And we have that opportunity.

And even the world that God created, God reminds each and every one of us that it’s up to us to finish the process because we are truly then partners with God.

Let us begin this year with the inspiration that even when we make mistakes, it just inspires us to be able to build better the next time around.

Shabbat Shalom.

Shabbat Shalom: Parshat Bereishit (Genesis 1:1-6:8) By Rabbi Shlomo Riskin Efrat, Israel – “And these are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created, on the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens.” (Gen. 2:4). Imagine, for a moment, a world conducted according to strict Divine justice: punishment …

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“Parsha and Purpose” – Bereshiet 5781
Rabbi Kenneth Brander’s weekly insights into the parsha 

“God’s Social Contract with Humanity”

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“God’s Social Contract with Humanity”

Bereshiet: A new Torah-reading cycle begins this week, with the story of Creation. And as we get a blow-by-blow description of how God creates the world and everything in it, some very curious language is used, when the Torah describes the creation of humankind. 

Naaseh Adam b’Tzalmeinu k’Dmuteinu” — “Let Us create humankind in Our Image, and in Our Likeness.” Genesis 1:26 

Let Us create humankind? Who is God talking to? In Our Image? And in Our Likeness? Who is God referring to? 

Some of the commentators explain that God is asking permission from the angels. Rashi on Genesis 1:26  Others suggest that it’s a “royal We,” na’aseh, God is speaking to Himself in the majestic plural, a majestic plural giving honor to God and this final act of creation, the piece de resistance of all of creation. Ibn Ezra on Genesis 1:26 

However, I’d like to share with you a third interpretation, found in the writings of the Zohar. “Let us,” in the plural, means that creation of humankind includes both male and female. “In our image” refers to the wealthy amongst us. And “after our likeness” refers to the poor in our midst. 

The Zohar continues and states the following: When the rich and the poor are united as one, when they show compassion to each other, share with each other, and are benefactors to each other, that is how humankind should behave. Zohar 1:13b

The rich and the poor, states the Zohar, must be united together as one. Support and benefit from each other. 

In other words, when creating humankind, God creates a social contract with us. When God says Na’aseh Adam, that We will create humankind, He is referring to us, men and women, as His partners. Because we are only truly, completely fashioned once we live up to our side of the social contract, and fulfill our potential. Our image and likeness only become divine when we do our part. It is when people of opposite views, men and women of different social, economic statuses, work together. When we are united and show compassion towards each other. Only then is our creation complete.

What a powerful message to begin this new year, with a reminder that each one of us has the capacity to be in the image of God. We are full partners with God in our own creation when we live up to this responsibility. Each of us has the opportunity and capacity to complete the process that God has begun.

Shabbat Shalom.

Rabbi Riskin

Shabbat Shalom: Bereishit (Genesis 1:1 – 6:8) By Rabbi Shlomo Riskin Efrat, Israel – The beginning of our communal Torah readings once again with the Book of Genesis on the first Shabbat following the intensive festival period from Rosh Hashanah through to Shmini Atzeret-Simchat Torah is much more than a calendrical accident; the first chapters of …

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Screenshot from Bereishit video


“Parsha and Purpose”
Insights from Rabbi Kenneth Brander into Torah and Contemporary Life

Parshat Bereishit: “In the beginning, God created the Spiritual Start-Up Nation”

Shabbat Shalom: Bereishit (Genesis 1:1-6:8) By Rabbi Shlomo Riskin    Efrat, Israel – “And God saw everything that He had made and behold it was very good.” (Genesis 1:31) A sensitive reading of the biblical description of the creation of the world forces the reader to come to some understanding of the relationship between Judaism …

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Rav Boaz Pash

Parshat Bereishit: Similar or Unique? Rabbi Boaz Pash is the Rosh Kollel of the Joseph and Gwendolyn Straus Rabbinical Seminary‘s Torat Yosef Kollel Are we humans more alike, or more different from one another? To put it another way: do we spend more time looking for our differences or our similarities? To our dismay, we are, on the …

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Yachad showing secular kids a torah scroll for the first time

Prior to Simchat Torah, Jewish identity coordinators from the OTS Yachad Program brought a Torah scroll to secular Israeli schoolchildren, encouraging them to take ownership of their sources and their heritage.    #HandsOnLearning#YachadMeansTogether#TheTorahSpeaksToEveryone#SimchatTorah#OTSLearningLivingLeading

Rabbi Kenneth Brander

Parshat Bereishit: Connecting Between Sacred and Profane  Rabbi Kenneth Brander  As we begin reading the Torah anew and are reintroduced to the story of Creation, one seemingly trivial point often goes unnoticed: the fact that humankind is conceived and born specifically on “yom vav” – the sixth day of Creation. Perhaps reflecting the very essence …

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Shabbat Shalom: Parshat Bereshit (Genesis 1:1-6:8) By Shlomo Riskin Efrat, Israel – “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” (Genesis 1:1) Why does the Torah, the word of God given to Moses as His legacy to the Jewish people, begin with an account of creation, going off into gardens of Eden and towers …

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