Parsha Page – B’raisheet; 10/6/18

Shabbat Shalom! This week we celebrated Simchat Torah, and we read the final parsha of the Torah, V’zot HaBracha, and began reading the first parsha of the Torah, B’raisheet. In the spirit of Simchat Torah, you will find here the summary for V’zot HaBracha followed immediately by B’raisheet.

V’zot HaBracha begins with Moses delivering a bracha, blessing, to the Israelites before he dies. He gives each tribe a unique blessing; each of the twelve tribes has their “purpose” elucidated and their special place in God’s community reaffirmed. Moses concludes with:

Thus Israel dwells in safety, Untroubled is Jacob’s abode, In a land of grain and wine, Under heavens dripping dew. O happy Israel! Who is like you, A people delivered by the LORD, Your protecting Shield, your Sword triumphant! Your enemies shall come cringing before you, And you shall tread on their backs.

This is a reflection of the unique position of the Israelites- about to cross over into their land for the first time in centuries. Moses then climbs a mountain and gazes across into the land of Israel. He dies on the mountain at the age of 120 years old but still in the peak of health. Joshua is elevated as the next leader of the people.

B’raisheet begins at the beginning! We read of the creation of the universe in six days, with God resting on the seventh day. God declares the seventh day holy, and thus we celebrate Shabbat. We read the creation of Adam, the first human, and learn of the betrayal of the serpent who convinced Eve and Adam to eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Adam and Eve are exiled from the garden of Eden. Eve bears two children, Cain and Abel. Cain is a farmer, and Abel is a shepherd. Cain and Abel bring offerings to God, and Abel’s offering is accepted while Cain’s is not. Cain then kills Abel, and tries to hide it from God. Cain utters the famous line, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” to which the answer is yes. Humanity begins to grow wicked, and this parsha ends with God vowing to wipe them out of existence.

QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION:

  1. Why does Moses bless the tribes? What does it mean to offer a blessing?
  2. What does it mean that we start reading the Torah again after finishing it? What does that teach us?
  3. Why should we be each other’s keepers?
  4. Why does it matter that we are all descended from two people, Adam and Eve?

ACTION ITEM:

Act it out! Create a play that describes the six days of creation. What happens on each day? How would you portray day seven, Shabbat?

Day 1: Light and dark

Day 2: Waters in the heavens and below

Day 3: Earth and vegetation

Day 4: “Heavenly Lights”

Day 5: Animals of the sea and sky

Day 6: Land animals and humans

Day 7: Shabbat