This week, we begin again the cycle of reading the Torah from its beginning, Parshah Bereshit (Gen. 1:1-6:8). From its first words, the Torah engenders discussion and debate. “Bereshit Bara Elohim et-hashamayim v’et haaretz” What does that mean? It depends on who is translating it.
The most common English translation is “In the beginning, God created heaven and earth”. However, the great medieval commentator Rashi disagrees. Had that been the intent, he argues, the text would read, “B’rishona bara…” The word “bereshit” is a construct, and it should be read, “In the beginning of God’s creation of heaven and earth”. What is the difference?
Rashi points out that the text is not trying to point out a sequence to what was created in these first days, but rather that creation is ongoing, and these things happened at the outset. Otherwise, one might think that the work of creation that God did ended forever at sunset on the sixth day; that God did not just pause to rest on Shabbat, but never resumed.
A prayer that we recite every morning, Yotzer, states that “in Your goodness your renew continually, every day, the creation”. Every time a baby is born, every time a person experiences healing from illness, every time a toxic environment is made clean, life burgeons and creation continues.