Last Shabbat, October 21-22, Jews all over the world began our annual ritual of re-reading the Torah, one Parsha (portion) at a time from beginning (Bereshit) to the end (V'Zot HaBerachah). Bereshit (B'-ray-sheet) literally means "at first". It is the Hebrew name of the first book (Genesis) as well as the first portion of the Torah (Genesis 1:1 - 6:8).
There are a number of translations of the word bereshit as it it used in the context of the creation of earth. The three most used, I think, are "In the beginning G-d created heaven and earth..."; "When G-d began to create heaven and earth"; and, "In a beginning G-d created heaven and earth." This discrepancy in translation is, in part, created because, grammatically, "bereshit" is "At first..." or "In a beginning..." "Be-ha-reshit", would be, "In the beginning..."
Was this the one and only beginning ("the"), one of many beginnings of earth ("a"), or were there previous beginnings of other worlds ("began creating" earth as opposed to yesterday's creation of Vulcan?)
AND THIS IS JUST THE FIRST SENTENCE OF THE TORAH. So, if we live long enough and study hard enough and read the Torah every year, we will never have enough time to figure the whole thing out. But we are patient, and we take what we get, at every level of our awareness. We say, the importance is not in completing the task, but to keep doing it until the world is made whole. The correct answer about the meaning of "Bereshit" is not the important part, it is the exploration of the word and how it makes us better to choose our own meaning.
In Judaism, all voices are valid and right, as long as they do not fall outside the law...all 613 of them.
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