Forever in New Genes: Bereshit 2021

by Adam J. Rosenbaum

Pre-Game Chatter: Where do you keep records of your family archives? Do you have a detailed family tree? Do you track dates of births, deaths, and anniversaries in a Bible or another document?

After stunning events involving Adam and Eve and their sons, the Torah text fast-forwards through humanity’s first ten generations methodically:

The Pitch: “This is the record of Adam’s line. — When God created man, He made him in the likeness of God …” – Genesis 5:1

Swing #1: “Ben Azzai laid down a fundamental teaching of Judaism. For in the verse quoted, the scholar saw the basic declaration of human brotherhood: By tracing back the whole of the human race to one single ancestor, created by one God, the Bible taught that all humans have one Creator and one ancestor – the first human.” – Menahem M. Kasher, Encyclopedia of Biblical Interpretation, Vol. 1

Swing #2: “The Hebrew sefer, which some render as ‘record,’ is anything written down, presumably in the form of a scroll. In any case, the introductory formula clearly announces this as a separate document.” – Robert Alter, The Hebrew Bible: A Translation with Commentary

Swing #3: “The narrative that connects creation and destruction tells how one generation succeeds the other, how each generates its replacement. It is a tenfold narrative of birth, procreation, and death. … Unlike the first man, these men are toledot: they are born into a human world, they bear human memories, effects, stains from the past.” – Avivah Gottlieb Zornberg, The Murmuring Deep: Reflections on the Biblical Unconscious

Late-Inning Questions: Do our commentators seem to think that a genealogy at this point in the story of Genesis is particularly vital? For those who listen to the Torah being read aloud, does the repetitive nature of these passages spark interest or lead to boredom? How do we live a life that cannot simply be reduced to being a name on a list?

On-Deck at Temple Beth Tzedek: We’re hosting a Drive-Up Flu Vaccination Clinic at the Temple during the next two Sundays, October 3rd and 10th, from 10:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m. RSVP to Marcia Goldstein to let her know which day you’ll attend, and whether you’re over the age of 65.

The Big Inning at the End: Speaking of recording the deeds of our ancestors, I find it fascinating that many Major League and Minor League franchises have established team Halls of Fame. More interesting still is that Pete Rose is not in the National Baseball Hall of Fame – but he is a member of a group of the same name for the Cincinnati Reds.

Shabbat Shalom!