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Bereshit: The Circle of Life

This drash is written during the hardest days, the State of Israel experienced in 50 years. Hopefully, it will give its readers some hope for better future.

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This week I had an opportunity to learn a Hassidic commentary on the verse ‘And God said, “Let us make humankind in our image, after our likeness…“’ (Genesis 1:26) from the book ‘Mei Shiloach‘ by Rabbi Mordechai Yosef Leiner of Izbica. It describes the unbreakable chain of the power that exists in everything, created by God – from stones to human beings.

According to Mei Shiloach, whose approach evolves from previous Jewish teachings, every ‘silent’ creation – domem (stones, seas, sand etc.), passes its power to ‘growing’ creations – tzomeach. Plants pass their power to ‘living’ animals – chai, and the animals – to ‘speaking’ people – medaber.

This commentary provides a very simple vertical connection between different stages of the Creation. Of course, as a profound cinema fan, I couldn’t miss the connection to King Mufasa’s ‘Circle of Life’ philosophy at the Disney’s Lion King. Mufasa explained to his son, Simba, about the connection between grass, antilopes and lions. This connection created the perfect circle of equilibrium, where everything depends one on another.

Mei Shiloach doesn’t provide a circle, it proposes a stairway, on which the next step for humankind, after consuming the power from other creations, is to elevate it to the Creator. And since the Creator is infinite (Ein-sof) the power that comes back to the creations is not the same power. So it’s not really a circle.

My thoughts after the learning went from the vertical paradigm of Mei Shiloach to infinite examples of horizontal connections of power. Actually, the power doesn’t go only up, it also spreads and exchanges between the creations on the same ‘level’.

Last days in Israel provided us even more examples of such exchange. So many people feel themselves ’empty’ of power, for so many reasons. They might have lost somebody to the cruel and inhumane Hamas’ attack. They are scared because of the war. They are traumatized by all the pictures and videos, leaked to the Internet. And so many people decided to share their power with those who were in lack of it.

The next step is to understand that anyone has power to give. Because the power that comes from God exists in each and everyone. We just need to find a proper way to share it.

About the Author
Rabbi Binyamin Daniel Minich leads Kehilat Daniel in Jaffa and works at the Daniel Centers for Progressive Judaism in Tel Aviv. He is a PhD student at the department of Jewish philosophy of Bar Ilan University and a rabbinic fellow of Beit Midrash Har'el in Jerusalem. Rabbi Minich is a proud member of the Israeli Council of Progressive Rabbis (MARAM) and the Central Conference of American Rabbis. He also serves at the board of MARAM, at Limmud FSU Israel's organizational committee and at the board of the Israeli Association of Crimean Jews. Benny is married to Dr. Elena Minich and together they raise three children - Hadar Yosef, Levi Moshe and Haleli Yerushalaim.
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