Beth Elohim Messianic Synagogue
Parasha #1: Bereshit (In the beginning) Genesis 1:1-6:8
Haftarah: Yesha’yahu (Isaiah) 42:5-21
B’rit Chadashah: Matthew 1:1-17; 19:3-9
G-d created space for heaven and earth before time began. This concept is better understood in the study of kabbalah. But for now, it is enough to know that G-d always was, always is, and always will be. G-d essences “speaks”, and it is so. There are two very important points, one of which is not as obvious as the other that we need to explore. The first is that in the fourth word of the first sentence, there is an alef-tav; “et” in Hebrew that is not translated by the Orthodox community, There is simple an asterisk placed under it wherever it occurs. However, with Messianic Jewish insight of Yahshua, his existence from the very beginning can be established. This is possible because we have the B’rit Chadashah to which we can refer and see that Yahshua defines himself as the Alpha-Omega, the Beginning and the End; the Alef-Tav! Therefore, we can see from the end book of Revelation that the beginning book of the Torah, Genesis, establishes Yahshua’s existence in the beginning. Furthermore, the “et” falls in the fourth place in the sentence, right in the middle of the sentence, just as does the Shamash candle in the Hanukkah menorah that represents the Light of the world. It couldn’t be any clearer or consistent than what G-d has written through the hand of man in His Torah.
The other point I want to focus on for a moment is that the number seven stands out very clearly. Seven times the Torah reads “And it was so.” Seven times is recorded, “and G-d made.” Six times G-d speaks with approval, “Good!” (Gen. 1:4, 10, 12, 18, 21, 25), climaxing a seventh time with “Very good!” (Gen. 1:31). The progression up to the seventh day is dramatic, just as is preparation for a Jewish wedding on which the designated times of Adonai represent in addition to what is already in heaven. Each day of creation ends, “And there was evening and morning, day (one, two…6).” By the way, this sequence of evening and morning versus morning and evening provide the sequence of one day from another according to G-d. Each day starts at sunset and not sunrise. On the seventh day, G-d rests; but the account never concludes, “and there was evening and there was morning, day seven.” Man’s failure to enter Shabbat rest with G-d clearly stands out and provides foresight into the fact that man must endure a very long wilderness journey, be refined as gold, and repent, becoming reconciled to YHVH/Yahshua before he will find his way back for the ultimate Shabbaton!
Therefore, we can see from the beginning that the ending is left open-ended. The next verse, (Gen. 2:4), begins the creation anew, but now from man’s perspective.
The first account starts with the words “in the beginning” and has an absolute sense which comes before time. Here, the perspective changes from creating to literally: the making of earth and heaven.” In keeping with a kabbalistic understanding of the sefirot which those of you who are taking kabbalah classes now understand, Rashi says everything was created (in potential) on the first day, but the actual generating takes place on the days that follow. Thus, the tol’dot (generations, life story, offspring) of the universe (Gen. 2:4) describe the generating of life in the context of heaven and earth. In this section, the sequence of creation is placed in the background while G-d’s purpose for man comes to the fore. We see from the beginning that man was created to tend the garden (Gen. 2:5, 15). This statement alludes to more than cultivating a physical garden as we learn with continued study of Torah. This implies a responsibility to bless the nations by being productive, innovative, kind, just, concerned for one another; to fill the earth with progeny who are to be taught the words of G-d by their parents (Deut. 6:4-11), just as G-d commands in subsequent parashot.
The ultimate creation was the creation of man and woman, for they were created “in the image and likeness” of the Creator (v. 26). “Image” is tzelem” – from the root tzel which is a “shadow.” At best, a human being may reflect YHVH/Yahshua in the same way a two-dimensional shadow is reflected from a three dimensional object. We are to shine our lights forward away from ourselves, ever cognizant that our light comes from the Shamash Lamp (Yahshua), and that we have no light without Him. “Likeness” is “d’oot”, which contains the word “dam”-“blood” from which words such as “adama” for earth, “adom” for red, and “adam” for man are derived. Understanding these connections provide a clear connection to Messiah Yahshua, who incarnated in a flesh and bone as the “Second Adam.” Man and woman were created differently at different times, yet “in the image (tzlem) of G-d created He him, male and female created He them” (v.28). Again we see differences, yet similarities in tandem. He, the man was initially created with male and female attributes (not anatomical parts). Likewise, the male and female together reflect the “tzlem” of the one Elohim. By separating man from woman, we can more easily understand the sefirot of gevurah (justice, restraint, strictness) and chesed (unmerited kindness). The man representing gevurah, and the woman representing chesed, while both temper the dominant attributes with the compliment. In other words, justice is tempered with mercy and kindness, while kindness is tempered with justice and restraint. Yahshua himself taught this paradigm of human interaction when He came to show us how to apply the spirit of the law to the letter of the law. This was a dominant theme in His teaching the differences between G-d’s Torah and the rabbinic Oral Torah that include so many traditions of men. Man and woman were to become one flesh, just like the sefirot that work in tandem and as compliments to each other toward a unified and balanced whole.
With everything that Chava and Adam were given, they failed to keep the only restriction in their perfect environment. But we should not judge them. We commit so many sins on a daily basis that should serve as a reality check on just how easy it is for us to give into our animal instincts; our yetzer hara (evil inclination). We have the power to overcome this nature but it takes diligent prayer, study, internalization of what we learn, and behaviors reflecting this knowledge coupled with G-d given wisdom. G-d assures us that it is not too hard for us (Deut. 30:11-14). Although they were expelled from the Garden, they were not left without hope. East of Eden, Elohim placed the Cherubim and the two-edged “revolving” sword to guard the way to the Tree of Life. This image conjures up another- one in which the Cherubim were also placed above a “sword,” that is the sword of the Word (Eph.6:17; Heb. 3:12), in the form of the tablets written by Moshe. These tablets were placed in the ark with the two Cherubim placed above looking down towards the Words of G-d. Perhaps this was a picture of the future Holy of Holies where atonement was going to be made, hidden in the tragic scene of expulsion. Once the Holy of Holies, through the ultimate atonement became accessible (not necessarily chosen) by all, the way (Torah) became available to all through Him who is the Way, the Truth and the Life. You may wonder how do those who live in the most remote villages of the rainforests, deserts, and other places gain access to the Truth of YHVH/Yahshua? As we learned in the beginning of this parashah, YHVH and Yahshua were One from the beginning; to know Yahshua is to know about G-d (John chapter 14). Romans 1:18-21 tells us that G-d has made Himself manifest to everyone, no matter where they are living. There is no excuse! (Rom. 1:19.
Haftarah: Yesha’yahu (Isaiah) 42:5-21
The haftarah begins with a statement by “the Almighty G-d, who created the heavens and stretched them out, who laid out the earth and made grow from it.” This echoes the Torah portion’s recounting of the creation of the world in six days.
G‑d speaks to the prophet Isaiah, reminding him of his life’s purpose and duty, namely that of arousing the Jewish people to return to being a light unto the nations, “To open blind eyes, to bring prisoners out of a dungeon; those who sit in darkness out of a prison.”
The prophecy continues with a discussion regarding the Final Redemption, and the song that all of creation will sing to G-d on that day. G-d promises to punish all the nations that have persecuted Israel while they were exiled. The prophet also rebukes Israel for their errant ways, but assures them that they will return to the correct path and will be redeemed. We must remember that Israel in this context are those who are deemed to be true believers according to the seven-fold witness in the Book of Revelation. Those simply living in geographical Israel have no promise of redemption by “default.”
This narrative echoes the lesson for this week. Our purpose on this earth is to glorify G-d by being a light unto the nations. Although we did not cover the story of Kayin and Hevel, and Kayin’s his fall from grace, he lost his opportunity because he succumbed to the evil inclinations despite G-d’s loving rebuke for Kayin’s substandard offering. G-d demands our best in every aspect of our lives. No matter what we do, we must do it with all fervor and zeal to show ourselves approved and acceptable to G-d.
B’rit Chadashah: Matthew 1:1-17; 19:3-9
Verses 1-17 provide us a wonderful precise genealogy of Yahshua HaMashiach beginning with Avraham. We know Yahshua existed with YHVH as part of the complex Echad” of G-d (Gen. 1:1), but these verses provide the earthly record of Yahshua’s ancestry as G-d incarnate. A wonderful learning exercise is to look up the names listed in these verses. Understanding the essence of the names provides those who take the time a blessed and enhanced learning experience that those who passively read them cannot enjoy.
Verses 3-9 in Chapter 19 echo G-d’s desire for man. “… the Creator made them male and female, and that he said, ‘For this reason a man should leave his father and mother and be united with his wife, and the two are to become one flesh.” On the P’shat (literal) level of exegetic study, it is clear that G-d intended the union of a man and a woman; Adam and Eve as G-d created them. However, this statement does not say a man “will” or a man “shall” as in a command. As Sha’ul (Paul) mentioned in his epistles, if a person (man or woman) can be content as a single person, they are spared the distractions of that are incumbent on a married couple. However, if one cannot remain focused without an intimate relationship with the opposite sex, they should be married (1 Cor. 7-8). This is not a command of G-d, but it is a very “common-sense” statement. As a side note, we can know that homosexuality is an abomination regardless of what religious leaders may say (Lev. 18:22; 20:13; Rom, 1:26; 1 Cor. 9). However, this is not the focus of the lesson today.
On the level of Kabbalistic understanding, we see how Yahshua fulfilled Matt. 19:309 as written above. We know that YHVH includes male and female attributes and that Yahshua is G-d. The Ruach (Holy Spirit) is considered in the context of a nurturer; female dominant. One who guides, prompts, encourages. Accordingly, Yahshua left his “father and mother” and will be united with Israel (all true believers) who will become one flesh at the end of this age.
Verses 7-9 echo G-d’s behavior towards Israel (the nation) when they committed idolatrous acts also considered sexual immorality. G-d divorced Israel but not Judah (Is. 50:1: Jer. 3:8). According to G-d’s law, a divorced man may not remarry his ex-wife (Deut. 24:3-4). Judah remains the “wife” of G-d. Israel (all true believers) will repent by the very definition of a true believer and partaker of the covenants of Israel (Ezek. 27:27-37) and will be taken as the bride of Yahshua that does not violate any of G-d’s laws on marriage (Rev. 19:7; 21:1-9; 22:17).
Rabbi Tamah Davis
I want to acknowledge one of the many sources for my research includes an article from Ephraim Frank in Elon Moreh, Israel written in 2001.