There are so many commandments; so many intricacies to Judaism. From all the holidays to the dietary laws to the ritual commandments and the tiniest details of the many prayers we say and how we say them. So it is interesting that, the week after we conclude all the many holidays of the month of Tishrei, we get Bereshit - 'in the beginning' - which one could argue is the simplest parsha in all of the Torah.
Our of chaos came order. God creates for six days, and rests. The first two human beings discover shame, and mortality. Pretty simple stuff: there's a reason Bereshit is such a popular story to teach in Jewish pre-schools.
And one of the core moral truths to all of Torah is there, too. And it's pretty simple. Be positive, not negative. Uplift your fellow man, as God as uplifted you. Because we were created in the image of God, we have an obligation - not as Jews, but as humans, to elevate, not denigrate our fellow human. To glorify and not belittle. And we desire at our very foundations to spread that love, trust, and positive energy to everyone while simultaneously counteracting all forces of negativity - because that's what God would do.
In this week’s parsha, we read from the beginning of the Torah. There, in Genesis 1:27, we are told ‘And God created human in the Divine image, in the image of God was human created’. On this verse, the Hassidic master known as The Alter of Slobodka said:
“According to this Torah, humankind was designed to be a witness that testifies to the manifest reality of the Divine in the Universe. The creation must give testimony to its Creator, not in speech and in action, but rather to the very fiber of its existence.
It is the testimony of humankind to elevate and to reach to the realm of the spiritual and the moral - that they must recognize and comprehend the image between themselves and their Master.”
We were put on this earth to elevate and to glorify our fellow humans with the very fiber of our essence. To prove that every person is created in the image of God.
That's the core of all of Torah. Sometimes, Judaism really is that simple.
- Rabbi Mark Asher Goodman
Rabbi Mark Asher Goodman is the spiritual leader of Brith Sholom Jewish Center in Erie, PA. These are a collection of thoughts and writings since he joined the community in Erie. For more of his past writings, click here.