Parshah Columnists for Bereshit

Guest Columnists
13 Facts Every Jew Should Know About the Book of Bereishit
Journey through Bereishit with 13 enlightening facts.
The Moment After You Do Something Terrible
How are we supposed to live with ourselves in the aftermath?
The Joy of Getting It Right the Second Time
What happens when someone chooses to sin instead?
Why G-d Banished Adam and Eve From the Garden of Eden
Why was G-d so afraid that humans would gain eternal life that He was compelled to throw Adam and Eve out of Gan Eden?
You Broke It, You Fix It: The Roots of Conflict
G‑d gave us a perfect garden, and we ruined it!
Where Are You Is a Very Good Question
“Why” questions are often less of a genuine inquiry into the truth of the matter and more like veiled accusations and criticism.
Cain and Abel: The Story of the First Sibling Rivalry
Aside from an account of their birth, their bringing an offering to G‑d, and Cain’s horrifying murder of Abel, the Torah’s description of their lives is brief and cryptic.
What Is Shabbat Bereishit?
Why is it thus named?
Who Controls the Weather?
What is our responsibility toward the environment? To what lengths must we go to protect open spaces or endangered species? And are we at fault for natural disasters?
Something from Nothing
It is not easy to understand how a world view that leads nowhere and ultimately explains nothing became so rooted in the human psyche
The Heavens and the Earth
"In the beginning G-d created the heavens and the earth." To discover the mystical light hidden within these words, we will have to re-read them in a new way
The Curse of Eve
A Jewish Perspective on Women in Society
Those who refer to the biblical story of Eve as a Divine endorsement of sexism are overlooking a simple truth: a curse is not something that should to be the way it is -- it's something that should not be the way it is...
If It's to Be It's Up to Me
Being direct descendents from Adam and Eve, some of us may have inherited this tendency to look for others upon whom we can place the blame.
In The Beginning...
Beneath the façade, the Oneness reality has never changed; it has simply receded. We, conscious human beings, can reactivate the Oneness reality. That is our destiny. Our privilege. And our duty.
When Religion Causes Conflict
Apparently, sibling rivalry is as old as siblings themselves. Consider Cain and Abel. You have to wonder how Cain, reared by parents who spoke to G-d Himself, went so extremely off the rails and murdered his own brother!
5770 Years Ago
Really! Have you ever heard of carbon dating? Aren't there stars a millions light years away? Have you ever heard the word "dinosaurs"?
Transmuting Impatience
Parshat Bereishit
Since leaving the Garden of Eden, human impulse is an admixture of both good and evil. Our task is not to squelch the impulse but to mine it, by toning down the “mine” aspect.
An Economics Lesson from Adam and Eve
I'm incredibly grateful that we have food to eat, clothing to wear, and a roof over our heads. Nothing is lacking as I carefully budget, trying to maximize every penny; but I still can't stop worrying and stop the anxiety from creeping into my heart...
The Journey Back
From the serene perfection of the Garden, they had been plunged into the fearful reality of galut (exile) – a world where something was terribly wrong...
Man and Woman
When G-d created Adam, at the moment Adam opened his eyes, what was his psychological profile? He had no Oedipus complex because he had no mother. He didn't have a birth trauma, because he wasn't born. He had no sibling rivalry... What was this man like?
A Twisted Creature
People have become so sophisticated that they no longer believe in or understand anything anymore. Basic words, such as "friend", "enemy", "land" and "life" become totally incomprehensible
Why My Rich Friend is Poor
“Why?” I ask myself. “Why is this woman always a prisoner to the past and to what she lacks?”
Judaism and Progress
An Essay on Bereishit
Genesis is preoccupied with fundamental questions, its narratives brimming with exemplary figures whose actions shape our lives today. Clearly, it would have been impossible to begin the Torah without them.
Torah Insights
How Adam and Eve Made Peace With Abel's Murder
Adam and Eve were at a loss, not only about what to do with Abel’s body, but they had a much deeper question: how to respond to absolute evil? How could they continue to live after witnessing the depravity of which humanity was capable?
Peeling the Fruit
The metaphor of a peel captures all we need to know about unholiness: its origin, its purpose, the challenges it presents, and ultimately the way to deal with it.
Weekly Sermonette
The Gift of New Beginnings
Imagine if there was never a time or opportunity to start over again?
It's a Brand New World
if we want the initial or "natural" state of the world--which was non-existence--to be defied, then we need to keep fueling the thrust of creative energy that brought the world into existence in the first place...
Let There Be Light
A wealthy man had three sons, and was uncertain as to which one he should entrust his business. So he devised a test. He took his three sons to a room which was absolutely empty and he said to them, "Fill this room as best as you are able..."
The Psychology of Sin
The sooner we realize it’s all a mind game, the sooner we will be able to win the game.
Parshah Musings
History is Bunk
England: Picts, Romans, Saxons, Normans... America: The Native Americans, Spanish, French, English, Hollywood... Why is the fight for the Land of Israel different from all other conquests?
Did G-d Work on Shabbat?
The Paradigm of Happiness
We've all met unhappy beauty queens and discontented millionaires. Marriages break up and dream jobs go sour. Is life just an endless conveyor belt of unmet expectations?
Life's Passages
Woman and the Forbidden Fruit
The sin of the Tree of Knowledge is one of the most perplexing episodes in the Torah. Insight into the story sheds light on woman's unique qualities and role in the process of redemption
For Friday Night
Nature as Divine Communication
The vastness, the boundless variety, the sense of structure and the sense of a constant interplay of dynamic forces, --all express something about G-d
Parshah Moment
What the Rebbe Taught Me
Imperfect Perfection
Did G-d create a perfect world, or an imperfect one? That depends whether it's Shabbat or not.
G-d on Time Management
On that busy Friday afternoon, G‑d taught us something about time and the importance of its management; every moment has an exclusive energy to be utilized, and a purpose for which it alone was created.
What Do You Think?
A Lesson from Cain
Once Cain admitted his guilt and set out to repent, what did he do next? Did he buy out an alcohol store, lock the bedroom, shut the lights, and knock himself out for days on end? Did he drown his guilt in depression?
Living through the Parshah
The Overachiever Who Lost It All
The story of Cain and Abel gives us incredible insight into human nature and a fatal flaw that many of us share called “overachievement.” Cain is the classic overachiever. He tries to reach for the best, but ends up with the worst.
The Power of Feminine Beauty—and How to Protect It
G‑d created Adam and Eve unclothed, and they walked around the Garden of Eden . . . naked. If public nudity was fine with G‑d, why does the Torah tell us to be modest, to cover up, to subdue our natural allure? What changed?
Why Can't We Get Along?
Understanding the Male/Female Dynamic
Disagreements in marriage can be a real exercise in humility and maturity and force us to transcend our subjectivity. If we embrace the discomfort of the dispute we can come out with a lot more than a wounded ego...
The Human Body
The media has capitalized on the post–Fruit of Knowledge schism in a brilliant way. If the body is so distracting, then do everything you can to distract! Call attention to yourself. Be alluring. That is the key to success.
Parshah Messages
Created to Lead
Are we natural leaders or followers? Humans or apes? Adam was created peerless in order to answer this very question.
A Thought for the Week
The Bread of Shame
Why should the Creator, who is the essence of all goodness, require work, struggle and toil as man's only ultimate path to perfection?
Inner Stream
Are We Obsessed with Prohibitions?
A challenge was recently issued to me by a Jew who describes himself as “positively oriented.” The G-d of Torah, he maintains, is one of wrath, vengeance and prohibitions, whereas his G-d is filled with love...
In the Beginning
It is the sweet sadness of reaching the end . . .
The Freeman Files
A Kabbalistic interpretation of the first four verses of Bereishit
Light is the initial instance of matter, the first true creation...
The Aleph Files
"Beit!" cried the angry little Aleph to G-d. "Beit is a nice little house with a roof and walls to hold out the Infinite Light and a little door on one side to let a trickle in. And You chose that constipated, square-headed letter over me!"
Tohu Wars
Jay Schwartz spends his days creating worlds and their creatures in cyberspace, searching for meaning within them.
The Lunar Files
The backstory behind oppression, suffering, darkness and everything else that ever goes wrong.
It was an eerie feeling as the orbit of the planets suddenly swung into reverse. The moon was no longer receiving and reflecting light; as though sucked inwards, radiance flowed from the moon to the sun...
The Adam Files
"Look," he tried. The poor angel was almost hysterical. "Our job was software. How were we supposed to know that the hardware was to be made from mud? We pleaded with The Engineer to find a more fitting encasement for such an ultimate being than this gray meat patty..."
Man and Woman
Together, a man and a woman form a single being.
The mystery proto-woman, who provides us the path towards humankind 2.0
Woman 1.0 was a harsh and judgmental version, not at all user-friendly. Her name was Lilith, with a personality as inflexible as a dry bone. Adam dumped that one fast. So woman was upgraded. The problem is, Adam wasn't...
The Discovery of Darkness
In this swamp of confusion, darkness becomes evil, for it entraps the light. When we tug to fissure their bond, an iron resistance opposes us. In the final release, a burst of energy shakes the cosmos....
How Sin Started
Initially, it was natural for man to follow woman. Read the story: What convinced Adam to eat of the Tree of Knowledge? Nothing -- just that Eve told him to. Then the roles were reversed. A curse, truly, for both of them...
How Old is the Universe According to Judaism?
The Jewish View on the Age Old Question
The Word
To the Creator, there is nothing here other than His words, nothing other than G‑d telling a story to Himself.
Be Light
Tweaking the Universe
Start Inside
Failure's Response
Without failure, you cannot touch the depths of your soul. Without return, you have yet to redeem its power.
What Is Alef?
A Point Above, a Point Below
What is an Alef? A point above, a point below, and a line of Torah connecting them.
Why do we care? If our existence is an accident, why should it make any meaningful difference if we are or are not?
The Doctrine of Perpetual Creation
What does it mean, and what does it mean to us...
Aside from stimulating our minds and inspiring our mystic wonder, what are the practical ramifications of the truth that G‑d is creating the world anew every moment of time?
Why Do We Sleep?
Slumbered time is probably the most wasted human resource. Why did G-d create us in such a way that we spend 25% to 30% of our lives doing nothing?
The Hovering Spirit
"And the earth was chaotic and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the spirit of G-d hovered upon the face of the waters." A spooky verse, a Talmudic law, and an empowering Midrash.
Did You Ask to Be Born?
What kind of "free choice" do we have, if we didn't choose to be presented with that choice?
The Power of I
As the Torah tells it, G-d spent six days making a universe, creating physicality and spirituality, time and space, matter and energy, water and earth, stars and trees and animals -- and then created a single human being and said to him: "All this is to serve you."
Parshah Recovery
In G-d's Time
We who recover from alcoholism and addiction are all too familiar with the compulsion for seeking the quick fix.
Covenant & Conversation
Three Stages of Creation
Between the intention and the fact, the dream and the reality, lies struggle, opposition, and the fallibility of the human will. It is all too easy, having tried and failed, to conclude that nothing ultimately can be achieved, that the world is as it is, and that all human endeavour is destined to end in failure.
G-d's Unrelenting Faith in Us
Were He not to create humanity there would be no-one in the universe capable of understanding that he or she was created and that G‑d exists.
The Genesis of Justice
There are words that change the world, none more so than two sentences that appear in the first chapter of the Torah.
The Art of Listening
What exactly was the first sin? What was the Tree of Knowledge of good and evil? Is this kind of knowledge a bad thing such that it had to be forbidden, and was only acquired through sin? Isn’t knowing the difference between good and evil essential to being human? Isn’t it one of the highest forms of knowledge? Surely G‑d would want humans to have it? Why then did He forbid the fruit that produced it?
The Faith of G-d
What went wrong? How did evil enter the picture, setting in motion the drama of which the Torah – in a sense, the whole of history – is a record?
Beyond Speech
On the Haftarah: The Purpose of Creation
For the Parshah of Bereishit, From the Teachings of the Rebbe
We were not just chosen because of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Rather, we are part of G-d's plan from the very beginning.
A Jewish Woman Is a True Blessing
If your home will be a small Beit Hamikdash, we will certainly merit to see the third Beit Hamikdash, and experience the Garden of Eden,
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