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Happy New Year, Now Let's Unpack Bereishit

November 14, 2019

Denver, Colorado, United States

Only a few weeks ago, the Jewish people hit reset and began the reading of the Torah on Simchat Torah. Bereishit, the first Torah Portion means “In the Beginning” because it tells the story of the creation of the world. On the first day God made darkness and light. On the second day God made the heavens, dividing the “upper waters” from the “lower waters.” On the third day he created the boundaries of land and sea, and called forth trees and greenery from the earth. On the fourth day he fixed the position of the sun, moon and stars as timekeepers and illuminators of the earth. There were 3 more days to this story, but there is a crucial fact not discussed in the Torah. If the stars, sun, and moon were created on the fourth day, how do we distinguish the first three days from each other. In other words, if there was no way to tell time, how do we separate the days from each other. The answer is that in the first day, God created the “light day”, and the “darkness night”. 

Everyday night came and went, another day passed. So although the stars, moon, and sun were created day four, the idea of a “day” was created on day 1. This is very interesting to note because it shows that the true purpose of the stars, moon, and earth is not to separate one day from the next, something we are often taught in religious school, but instead to help tell time for religious practices. Furthermore, something we can all learn from this is that it is important to question things in order to truly learn. Although sometimes it may be hard to question things such as society, Judaism, and school, by questioning we identify the gaps in our knowledge and how to address them. Questioning also enables us to find barriers limiting our society and move past them. What would have become of this world without people like Martin Luther King Jr., Oskar Schindler, and Mohandas Gandhi. Questioning is an essential part of Judaism and we must not forget it. I encourage the readers of this D’var Torah to try and question more in everyday life. By doing this, hopefully, we can each find ways to better our communities in which we live.

Jacob Pomerantz is an Aleph from Rocky Mountain Region and loves rock climbing.

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