Animal Fair: Bereshit 2019

by Adam J. Rosenbaum

Pre-Game Chatter: Do you take pride in using things you’ve made yourself? What homemade item brings you the most joy?

As we restart our exploration of the Torah, the notion that God “creates” the universe is not expressed in the text as “creating” as often as we might expect:

The Pitch: “God created the great sea monsters, and all the living creatures of every kind that creep, which the waters brought forth in swarms, and all the winged birds of every kind. And God saw that this was good.” – Genesis 1:21

Swing #1: “The verb’s [‘bara’, ‘created’] objects are widely varied … Even when the object is something more tangible (sea creatures in Genesis 1:21), the point is not necessarily physical manufacturing as much as assigning roles.” – John H. Walton, Ancient Near Eastern Thought and the Old Testament: Introducing the Conceptual World of the Hebrew Bible

Swing #2: “The word bara occurs here for the first time since verse 1; it may have been chosen deliberately at the beginning of the creation of living things.” – Claus Westermann, Genesis 1-11: A Commentary 

Swing #3: “The verse informs us that even though that at the time of [God’s] pronouncement, several species came forth in the water and with the birds; nonetheless, [God] continued to create several species from those that already came out afterward. For example, the chicken that came out from the pronouncement, [resulted] in many species with the same characteristics as the chicken and they are all [considered] one species.” – HaEmek HaDavar

Late-Inning Questions: Do our commentators seem to think that the flying and sea creatures come into being out of nothing, or that God’s role is to shape them from something else? Is it more impressive to create or to re-purpose? If we think of God as more of a “re-purposer” than a creator, does that change your perception of God?

On-Deck at Emanu-El: It won’t be long before our JBQ (annual Kosher barbecue competition) — this year, it will take place Sunday, December 15th. Contact the office to buy your tickets and to offer items for our silent auction!

The Big Inning at the End: Speaking of re-purposing, numerous critics thought the Washington Nationals should have recreated their team after they went 19-31 in their first 50 games this year. Instead, they retooled a little bit, and now they’re two wins away from a World Series championship.

Shabbat Shalom!