Bereshit: In the beginning

We have a beginning, as it is written, “In the beginning of God’s creation of the Heavens and the Earth.” (Genesis 1:1) and we have to face our individual beginning in terms of the choices we have made in every aspect of our conscience, ever since we acquired knowledge and awareness of who we are. We can identify our choices based on our social environment, educational upbringing, and the moral and ethical influences that shaped our approach to life and our surroundings.

Our discernment tells us that there is darkness: “and darkness was on the face of the abyss” (1:2) when we don’t have clarity in our perception and we are confused: “the Earth was unformed and void” (1:2). However, in spite of that we are experiencing being alive because “the Spirit of God hovered over the face of the waters” (1:2). In this awareness we are able to realize that we are an extension of the Creator, His emanation and part of His Creation. This is our beginning, the principle that we have to bear in consciousness all the time.

The elements and circumstances of this beginning seem negative in our human understanding: formlessness, void, darkness and abyss. These are terms that suggest confusion, hopelessness, negativity, and downfall; and we see them and experience them all in the material reality that have managed to create ever since we live in this world. These are also the elements that preceded us in our beginning when we were in the maternal womb, until we were born and “given to light”: “And God said: ‘Let there be light.’ And there was light.” (1:3). Then we realize that our beginning in darkness was the preamble to live in the light, by the light and for the light, because “God saw the light, that it is good” (1:4).

 light 1

The consequence of this assessment is that “God divided the light from the darkness.” (1:4). Also this is the starting day in which we were conceived as united with our Creator in the “one day”: “And there was evening and there was morning, one day.” (1:4). This is our beginning, our principle, the foundation of God’s Creation, and also of our own existence; that we come from our oneness with Him. Hence, all our choices depend on either living in darkness or living in the light.

We have mentioned in this blog that love and goodness, and their attributes, are all synonyms of light because they are as good as the light. The Torah, the book of Jewish ethical instruction, starts with this primordial foundation: the beginning in which goodness is the moral imperative in God’s Creation, including our lives and the reality we build in the world that He created for us.

This means that even if we are born under the apparent negative circumstances of darkness, light is always present for us to choose in the same way we pursue love for our fulfillment and delight, as the goodness we want to be and manifest. The beginning of God’s Creation is also our beginning, our embracing of light as God’s reference for us to choose and be able to separate from the darkness of that which is unnecessary in our lives and the world. light

This beginning with its ethical approach continues in the remaining days of God’s Creation of the heavens and the earth, where He established an order we must sustain in the same way He sustains all that comes from Him. This duty is what honors us to be His image and likeness. These are not related to physical appearance but to ethical principles revealed by the way He acts towards His Creation. The more we live according to His ways, the more we are “like” Him. God’s love is present and tangible in all His Creation, as well as the light that He calls good. In this approach everything is perfect, because in the goodness of light there is no formlessness, void, darkness, or abyss.

Let’s face our beginning by discerning what is the value of chaos and disorder in formlessness, in the emptiness and futility of material illusions; the darkness we experience in negative thinking, feelings and behavior; and the hopelessness when we fall in the abyss of the absence of Light, the absence of the goodness that Love is:

“I am the Lord; I called you with righteousness and I will strengthen your hand; and I formed you, and I made you for a people’s Covenant, for a light to nations. To open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison.” (Isaiah 42:6-7).

About the Author
Ariel Ben Avraham was born in Colombia (1958) from a family with Sephardic ancestry. He studied Cultural Anthropology in Bogota, and lived twenty years in Chicago working as a radio and television producer and writer. He emigrated to Israel in 2004, and for the last fourteen years has been studying the Chassidic mystic tradition, about which he writes and teaches. Based on his studies, he wrote his first book "God's Love" in 2009. He currently lives in Kochav Yaakov.
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