Parashat Bereishit / פרשת בראשית

Crop of The Garden of Eden by Thomas Cole

Summary

Parashat Bereishit is the 1st weekly reading in the annual Torah reading cycle, and the first reading of Bereishit (“Genesis”). Bereishit (בְּרֵאשִׁית) means In [the] Beginning. It is the first word of the parashah, which describes the creation and ordering of HaShamayim (the Heavens) and HaAretz (the Earth) followed by the principal spiritual events that occurred from Adam to Noakh (Noah).

Parashat Bereishit begins with a general overview of HaShem’s melakhot (creative acts, a.k.a. works) in speaking creation into existence over the first six days of creation, followed by His rest from His melakhot on the Seventh Day. This includes, climactically, the creation of mankind in HaShem’s image and likeness on the sixth day, the “good” original state of creation, and the dominion that mankind was given over the Earth.

The parashah continues with a record of specific details pertaining to HaShem’s creation of mankind, including how woman was created and for what purpose. Following this, the parashah records the events led to the curse, death, and mankind’s exile from Gan Eden (the Garden of Eden). The parashah then records the dramatic events surrounding the first sons of Adam and Chavah, continuing from there with a record of the descendants of the sons of Adam until Noakh.

Parashat Bereishit concludes with a record of the activities of Bnei HaElohim (the Sons of G-d) in the Earth, introducing also the enigmatic Nefilim, which the Torah mentions again later in greater detail. The problem with mankind is immediately then discussed together with HaShem’s severe response. While catastrophic consequences are in store for mankind, HaShem’s grace is with one man.

Torah Portion: Genesis 1:1 – 6:8

1st Aliyah: Genesis 1:1-2:3 (34 verses)
2nd Aliyah: Genesis 2:4-19 (16 verses)
3rd Aliyah: Genesis 2:20-3:21 (27 verses)
4th Aliyah: Genesis 3:22-4:18 (21 verses)
5th Aliyah: Genesis 4:19-22 (4 verses)
6th Aliyah: Genesis 4:23-5:24 (28 verses)
7th Aliyah: Genesis 5:25-6:8 (16 verses)
Maftir: Genesis 6:5-8 (4 verses)

Reading from the Nevi’im (Prophets):

Traditional Ashkenazi Reading: Isaiah 42:5 – 43:10
Traditional Sephardic Reading: Isaiah 42:5 – 42:21

When Parashat Bereshit coincides with a special Shabbat, a different passage from the Prophets is traditionally read:

Shabbat Machar Chodesh: I Samuel 20:18 – 20:42


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Mashiakh v’Mitzvot

Messiah in the Parashah

In the beginning was the Memra, through whom all things were made.

The Memra of HaShem created mankind in His likeness, in the likeness of the presence of HaShem He created them.

HaShem blessed them in the name of His Memra.

And the Memra of HaShem blessed them, and Memra of HaShem said to them, ‘Be strong and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it.’ (Yerushalmi on Bereishit 35:8)

The Man of Heaven; image of the unseen G-d and exact imprint of His nature.

The Torah was prepared by the Memra of HaShem.

A garden from the Eden of the just was planted by the Memra of HaShem G-d.

Adam is a type of the coming one.

The man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.

The Son of G-d dies for his bride, who had been deceived.

He and his bride will be fruitful and multiply and fill the Earth and subdue it.

They heard the voice of the Memra of HaShem G-d.

The shame of mankind’s sin is covered through the death of another.

G-d appoints the Son of Man, in the likeness of Adam, and to him mankind is born.

He walks with G-d and is taken.

They made themselves idols and surnamed them by the name of the Memra of HaShem.

There was repentance before HaShem in His Memra that He had made man upon the Earth.

HaShem said He would remove mankind from the Earth by His Memra…

Good News is proclaimed in the descendants of Adam.

The Memra of HaShem said the generations after the deluge will not be judged like those before.

Commandments in the Parashah

Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it…

Of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat.

A helper fit for the man.

A man will leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they will become one flesh.

The woman’s desire will be for her husband.

The husband will rule over his wife.

Mankind may not eat of the Tree of Life knowing both good and evil.

Mankind is to work the ground from which he was taken.

If you do well, you will be accepted; you must rule over sin.

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