Thinking Bereshit (Genesis): Between New Things & Repetition


We are starting again a cycle of Torah reading. Jewish tradition teaches us

That Elohim- God created “iesh mi’ayin, which means that the beginning of existence came out of nothing.

Again, we are reading the Book of Genesis, but can we really do that like we came out of nothing?

When we start to read Torah we are not a “tabula rasa” (a clean slate) after all we are not coming from nothing, we are coming from the entire Torah!

We start when we just finished, we have in mind: Egypt, Sinai, 40 years in the desert, the death of Moshe, the promised land…  But now we are in the beginning (again) when God created the heaven and the earth.

Life sometimes feels like a story we’ve known in advance as a sequence of events that repeat itself.

New things can be fresh and exciting while repetition can be boring and tiresome…

Repetition can be relieving and comforting while new things can be threatening and destabilizing.

A new cycle of Torah reading is starting and this renewal symbolically represents our lives.

Torah doesn’t leave us in uncertainty, she gives us confidence from the beginning (actually before, right at the end) with the idea that there is a promised land… That’s what we call faith!  But she asks us to buy in the concept of Yesh – Mi’ayin the idea that the world is being created right now and out of nothing. She is asking us to undertake our journeys with faith and fresh eyes she isn’t promising new stories in the script but she is promising renewal in our lives.

As we ‘repeat’ every time that we return the Torah to the ark:

It is a tree of life for those who hold fast to it, and those who uphold it are happy. Its ways are pleasant, and all of its paths peaceful. Return us to you, God, so that we shall return, renew our days as of old.

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