Thought for Shabbat – October 1, 2021
This past week we celebrated/observed the final holiday of the lengthy Tishrei holiday cycle, Simchat Torah. This day marked the end of the Torah reading cycle for the year with the reading of the death of Moses and immediately begins the unbroken cycle again with the reading of the portion of Bereishit, the beginning of God’s creation of the world, the same portion which we read this Shabbat.
As the story of Creation unfolds, God looks at each Creation after it is done and declares that it is good. God is satisfied. When God finishes with the creation of Adam and Eve and blesses them, he declares that the creation of these humans is very good. Yet by the end of the portion, they have disappointed and disobeyed God and set in motion the history of humanity with all of its challenges.
One has to wonder how different their fate, and by inference our fate, might have been if they had addressed God differently after eating from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. What if instead of Adam blaming Eve and Eve blaming the serpent for their misdeed with the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, they actually accepted responsibility right away? What might have been God’s response? We will never know, but perhaps our tradition of Teshuva and Repentance gives us a clue.
As individuals and as a society, we have a tendency to blame others for our problems and mistakes. It’s a mode of behavior that is as old as the story of Creation. While others at times are at fault, our failure to take responsibility when called for prevents us from moving forward to the best version of our world we can have, our personal Eden, a world where we are appreciated, respected and accepted for who we are, despite our faults. We all have faults, but the ideal thing, the Garden of Eden thing, is to make sure we recognize those faults. It is that recognition that helps us achieve the best version of who we are and who can be.
Rabbi Yaier Lehrer
It becomes much easier to take God seriously as the source of moral values if we don’t hold Him responsible for all the unfair things that happen in the world. Rabbi Harold Kushner