Living Torah by Rabbi Ari Enkin

This week we begin the annual Torah reading cycle anew with the very first Torah portion on the roster: Bereishit.  Bereishit, “Genesis,” means “the beginning”.  This portion deals with God’s creation of the world and everything in it.  From East to West, from the sky to the seas – God made this land “for you and me”.

The Torah’s supreme and revered commentator, Rashi, asks the following question: The Torah is primarily seen as a book of commandments and laws (“mitzvot”).  When one thinks of the Torah, one does not immediately envision a work of stories, tales, and folklore.  It is primarily a book on how God wants us to live our lives!  Ethics.  Morality.  Routine.  So why does the Torah begin with the story of creation?  Wouldn’t it make more sense, asks Rashi, for the Torah to begin with some commandments, some Jewish-nation-building, and only later on to tack on stories of creation and the like?

Rashi answers with a powerful message. You know why the Torah begins with the story of creation? In order for all mankind to know that God Almighty created the world.  The entire world is His.  Every stone is His, every animal is His, and every human being is His. Since He is the Creator and Master of the world, He can decide to give any portion of His world to any nation he sees fit.

And that’s what He did.  He created the world and decided to give the land of Israel to the people of Israel.  Indeed, in almost every single Torah portion in the Torah, there is a reference to the Land of Israel belonging to the Jewish people.  It doesn’t belong to the British.  It doesn’t belong to the Turks.  It doesn’t belong to any Arab nation.  It belongs to the Jewish people.

The Torah portion of Bereishit allows us to reflect on this great and eternal gift of the land of Israel.  As you can see, not only is the land of Israel our historic right – it is our God-given right!   What a precious gift!  There is no place on the planet with the beauty and diversity found in land of Israel.  A place where the religions of the world UNITE for Israel.  A place with breathtaking mountains and valleys.  Parched deserts and deep blue sea.  Falafel, schwarma, hummus, and even won-ton soup!

The Land of Israel.  The Land of the Bible.  The Land God gave to the Jewish people.  Be sure to read this week’s Torah portion and internalize this important message!

Shabbat Shalom from Israel.

Rabbi Ari Enkin

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