The rabbinic commentator, Rashi (Rabbi Shlomo ben Yitzchak, 1040-1105), writes that the first word of TaNaCH, “B’reishit,” can be an acronym for “Bet Reishit” – two beginnings. Indeed, since the Torah seemingly gives us two different stories of creation (In Genesis chapters 1 and 2), this doesn’t seem too hard to fathom. Some branches of Jewish tradition tell us that the first story of creation is that of all time and space, and that Adam is “Adam Kadmon,” the primordial prototype for all of humankind, male and female. The story of Genesis chapter 2 concerns itself with specific people in a specific place with a specific, personal story to be related.
So many personal and professional beginnings are this way. We are presented first with the abstract – the model, the vision, the philosophy, the potential. The stage is set. It is up to us to expand/concretize/customize the ideal model to our specific life circumstances. As happens in the ensuing chapters of this week’s parasha, mistakes will be made, and challenges will be set before us; great discovery (the fruit), confusion and risk (Hmmm … to touch or not to touch? To eat or not to eat?), stress (eviction from our comfort zones), and self-doubt (Cain’s jealousy of Abel), just to name a few. But none of these erase the blessings of the first creation, the larger context in which we operate, or the knowledge that these challenges were, and are, necessary for our growth and continued success. We learn from our mistakes, we grow from the stories of those who came before us, we continue to be inspired by the big picture, and we rely on the support of those around us.
Now that the flurry, celebration, and serious reflection of the chagim is (almost) behind us, we return to our individual and continual process of creating and learning. In our morning prayer Yotzer Or, we express gratitude for “m’chadeish b’chol yom tamid ma-asei v’reishit” – the never-ending, ever-changing, daily opportunities for us to be challenged, renewed, and refreshed by our role in the constant re-creation of the world at hand. Here’s to a sweet year ahead.