It Gives Me Hope

by Arliene Botnick, October 29, 2020

Almost all I really need to know, I learned from Parashat Bereisheet.

With deference to Robert Fulghum and his award winning book (“All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten”), I see in Genesis not only a blueprint and unfolding of creation and our role as humans, but lessons for all humanity, a blueprint for our behaviour. The stories of Genesis explain (perhaps symbolically) how the world came to be. So, whether we read Genesis as a literal document or as a paradigm (telling us why and how creation came to be), we must learn from the timeless and powerful lessons in our narrative.

Firstly, we learn that life is not an accident, a fluke. However our world and life came about, it was a planned and purposeful event. And anything that is planned and purposeful must have a planner. The initiator, the planner is God. Life is not an accident.

And life is given purpose. It has to be shared. Humans need one another (a lesson many of us are truly learning in this time of COVID). “It is not good that man be alone” (Gen 2:18). We have a purpose. We are to be “fruitful and multiply.” We are, each in our way, to nourish and to care for the world, keep life continuing (either by having children or by being responsible for the well-being of the young, the vulnerable). And we are also caregivers for the world God has given us. The “seedbearing plants… every land animal… and we are responsible for taking care of all – the plants, the animals.” We are the world’s caregivers. And today, more than ever, that is our obligation – the environment, the water, the land. We have been given great gifts. Now, we have to take care of these gifts.

And who are we? Well, we are curious and perhaps audacious creatures. We question and challenge. When we were told that we may not eat of the Tree of Knowledge, we chose to eat of it. We chose knowledge with its challenges, its pain, its humanity (now we are human and will die). And God’s reasoning? May I suggest that if God did not want us to make that choice, God could have created us without the ability to choose. If God didn’t want us to choose, God would not have put the Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowledge in the middle of the Garden. God perhaps wanted for us not to be robots, unfeeling, unchoosing. God may have wanted a partnership. We could not remain eternally in the Garden. Our responsibility was to partner with God in the ongoing path of creation.

And when we leave the Garden, we are not abandoned, nor forgotten. No parent should ever abandon a child. Mistakes, choices have consequences. Our lives outside the Garden of Eden would be difficult. There would be enmity and pain and death. But, as we left, the Eternal “made outfits of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them” (Gen 3:21). God clothed us. Just imagine as you send your young adult off to university: he/she has to make choices, will be exposed to challenges, temptations, pain, but they have to leave the nest. As they leave, you make sure they have packed the right clothes, you include the extra scarf and remind them to stay safe. You send them out, they have to grow up, but you never stop taking care of them. You never stop clothing them.

So the lessons I learned – there is a creator, life is not an accident. Humanity needs company, the environment is my responsibility, life is my responsibility, sometimes curiosity will have challenging rewards, but I am God’s partner and that “Brit” – covenant gives me hope.

Keep well everyone!

Filed under: Educator's Message

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