וְיֵעָשׂוּ כֻלָּם אֲגֻדָּה אֶחָת לַעֲשׂוֹת רְצוֹנְךָ בְּלֵבָב שָׁלֵם

All shall unite to do God's will with an open heart.

וְיֵעָשׂוּ כֻלָּם אֲגֻדָּה אֶחָת לַעֲשׂוֹת רְצוֹנְךָ בְּלֵבָב שָׁלֵם

All shall unite to do God's will with an open heart.

16 10, 2023

Parashat Bereisheet 5784

By |2023-10-16T13:33:53-04:00October 16, 2023|

It was morning in the Mount Scopus neighborhood of Jerusalem, near the Hebrew University campus. Up early, I was preparing to make my first presentation as a university student participating in a course on Carl Jung. I was analyzing a Talmud passage in which Rabbi Yohanan is arguing with his disciple, Resh Lakish, about whether knives and swords are considered ritually unclean.

9 10, 2023

Parashat Bereisheet 5784

By |2023-10-09T13:45:41-04:00October 9, 2023|

וַיִּקְרָ֛א יְהֹוָ֥ה אֱלֹהִ֖ים אֶל־הָֽאָדָ֑ם וַיֹּ֥אמֶר ל֖וֹ אַיֶּֽכָּה׃  The ETERNAL God called to the human and said to him: Ayekha? (Gen. 3:9)

19 10, 2022

Parashat Bereisheet – 5783

By |2022-11-23T12:31:32-05:00October 19, 2022|

Click HERE for an audio recording of this D’var Torah

What Cain Learned
A D’var Torah for Parashat Beresheet
By Dr. Yakir Englander

In the Genesis story, we find Cain and Abel in a field. There the elder brother, Cain, kills Abel, the younger. Midrash Rabbah (22) on this passage remarks that Cain does not know how to take the life of another human person. So, he decides to imitate his brother, slaughtering him in the same way he had seen Abel himself slaughter animals as sacrificial offerings to God. When that same God questions Cain, after the murder, it is with either an utter innocence or with a calculated intent to cross-examine the killer: “Where is your brother Abel?” And Cain responds, without batting an eyelid: “Am I my brother’s keeper?” (Genesis 4:9)

It is a disturbing passage. As a Jewish theologian, I have always felt that Read More >

1 10, 2021

Parashat Bereisheet 5782

By |2022-07-29T11:24:17-04:00October 1, 2021|

Click HERE for an audio recording of this D’var Torah

A D’var Torah for Parashat Bereisheet
By Rabbi Matthew Goldstone

As we once again begin our annual reading of the Torah, we anticipate the many rich stories that pervade the first book of the Bible. The narratives remain the same year after year, despite our hopes that perhaps this time our ancestors might not make the same mistakes that they did in the last Torah reading cycle. The first mistake that we encounter is of course the decision to eat from the forbidden fruit of the tree in the midst of the garden. The snake encourages Havah (a.k.a Eve) to have a taste and that fateful choice ultimately leads to the expulsion of humanity from that prehistoric paradise.

Narrowing in on the dialogue between the snake and Havah, we find that the primordial mother of humanity does not articulate the prohibition as God initially instructed. Read More >

16 10, 2020

Parashat Bereishit 5781

By |2022-07-29T11:24:24-04:00October 16, 2020|

Click HERE for an audio recording of this D’var Torah


A D’var Torah for Parashat Bereishit
By Rabbi Jeffrey Segelman

The story of creation. Though the Torah does not tell us, we might ask: Why did God create in the first place? Perhaps because God was lonely. Not ordinary loneliness – existential loneliness. God existed, but as long as nothing else did, God’s existence had no meaning. So God set out to create something – someone – with whom God could have a relationship – a relationship which later God will call love. God created in search of love.

With the most unusual holiday season behind us, and an extraordinarily stressful few months ahead of us, it might be wise to embrace some of the lessons of God’s search for love.

Our Kabbalistic tradition wisely points out that God’s first step in creating love was to make Godself smaller. On one level, that was a wink Read More >

25 10, 2019

Parashat Bereishit 5780

By |2022-07-29T11:24:32-04:00October 25, 2019|

A D’var Torah for Parashat Bereishit
By Rabbi Bruce Alpert (’11)

For many years now, I have been intrigued by one particular reading in my synagogue’s High Holiday mahzor (Mahzor Hadash, The Prayer Book Press). Entitled “Continuing Creation,” it says that “our Sages taught, the human being is ‘God’s partner in the work of Creation.’ God and we create together.” It goes on to say: “There is still much to be done: disease to be conquered, injustice and poverty to overcome, hatred and war to be eliminated. There is truth to be discovered, beauty to be fashioned, freedom to be achieved, peace and righteousness to be established.”

This reading’s appeal rests on its nobility: lofty, even holy goals that become the mission toward which we work. In positing us as God’s partners in the work of Creation, this passage invests our lives with a transcendent purpose and significance.

But what exactly does it mean to say that we are God’s Read More >

4 10, 2018

Parashat Bereshit 5779

By |2018-10-04T22:51:12-04:00October 4, 2018|

Genesis (En)gendered: An Angelic View from Eden’s Way
A D’var Torah for Parashat Bereshit
by Rabbi David Markus

This momentous #metoo #ibelieveyou moment urges us to see old stories with new eyes. Reading sacred texts with ever renewing eyes is one of many ways that theology teaches us how to see and think – to reach beyond ourselves, to not become calcified and thus brittle, to strengthen our capacity to hold multiplicity and nuance without falling into hopeless relativism or nihilism.

Let’s start at the very beginning (“a very good place to start“). What might this moment of societal gender and sexual reckoning mean for how we read Torah’s sacred story of Creation, ostensibly the most familiar narrative in the Jewish canon?

That we can ask this question about Torah’s most familiar narrative itself says something important – and something hopeful – about the theological project of renewing our eyes and expanding what we see and how we see.  (Pirkei Avot Read More >

10 10, 2017

Parshat Bereshit

By |2017-10-10T20:51:45-04:00October 10, 2017|

The Ultimate Framing Narrative
A Dvar Torah for Bereshit
By Rabbi Lenny Levin


“In the beginning God created heavens and earth.” (Gen. 1:1)


“Who am I?” The answer to this question takes a narrative form. I am [fill in the name]. I grew up in such-and-such a family, went to such-and-such schools, have had such-and-such experiences and accomplishments. I belong to [one or more religious-ethnic backgrounds]. My [great-]-grandparents came here in 19xx. Our group had a history of so-many centuries in such-and-such a place. My personal narrative is embedded in family and group narratives, extending backwards through receding horizons.


Our teacher Rabbi Neil Gillman said it’s all narrative. We live our lives as narrative. When asked to tell someone (a date, an employer, a therapist, a chance encounter) something Read More >
27 10, 2016

Parashat Bereishit

By |2016-10-27T15:30:27-04:00October 27, 2016|

by Rabbi Jill Hammer

Parashat Bereishit: The Ever-Turning Sword

“YHWH Elohim sent out the human from the garden of Eden, to work the earth from which he was taken. So YHWH Elohim expelled the human and caused to dwell east of Eden the cherubim and the flame of the ever-turning sword to guard the way to the Tree of Life.” (Gen. 3:23-24)

I often have found myself fascinated by the ever-turning sword, the herev mithapekhet, that keeps humans from returning to Eden. Does one of the cherubim hold it, or does it turn on its own? Is there already an ever-turning sword in the divine treasury, or does God need to forge one for the occasion? Why is it described as lahat, a burning flame? What would happen if a human confronted the ever-turning sword? Is it possible to get past it and enter Eden, as some of the Hasidic rabbis claimed?

The parallel between Eden Read More >

8 10, 2015

Parashat Bereishit

By |2015-10-08T21:36:27-04:00October 8, 2015|

by Rabbi Michael Pitkowsky

For many people the season of repentance ended with the Neilah service on Yom Kippur. For others the gates of repentance remained open through Hoshanah Rabbah, the last day of Hol Ha-Moed Sukkot. This emphasis on Hoshanah Rabbah as the final day of the season of repentance can be found in numerous medieval sources and is illustrated in the following statement from the Zohar:

“On the seventh day of the Festival, Judgement is concluded in the world and decrees go forth from the King’s palace.” (Zohar, Tsav 3:31b, trans. D. Matt)

I would like to extend the theme of repentance to include Parashat Bereishit. Rabbi Yaakov Meidan of Yeshivat Har Etzion pointed out that in this week’s parashah we read not only about the first sin committed by humanity, but also about the first missed opportunity to perform teshuvah, repentance.

But the LORD God called to the man, and said to him, Read More >

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