We start again.
The cycle that we hope will never be interrupted, in which we finish the reading of the Torah and immediately restart it in a commitment that is renewed year after year: Bereshit, the wonder that is the Creation of our universe with all the surprise that it causes us since childhood about the origin of everything.
Something draws a lot of attention in this story of Genesis. There is a cadence that is repeated every day of creation from the first to the fifth. God speaks and things are created. What creates is the power of His word. And Creation comes out of nothing. But on the sixth day, the last of Creation, the animals and man arise, and that cadence of “God speaks and things become real” changes its rhythm.
The Talmud says that the phrase we read in the verse "Let Us make man in Our image and likeness" (thus, in the plural) involves in its proposal a host of angels that already surrounded the Lord. He was not alone.
According to the midrash, the Lord consults because He realizes that this being who is about to appear will be the only one with two powers above the rest of the creatures he was concerned about. The first is to recognize Creation by becoming aware of it. And the second is the power to destroy it.
Such a question deserved that consultation. And the host of angels tells him that He should not create man, because surely he will choose to destroy Creation, after recognizing it.
God cancels, destroys this host of angels and creates a second one. He asks them, too and the answer is the same once more.
Lord creates a third host but, before the cross-examination, the angels answer this: “You have already destroyed the first and second hosts... let You decide what to do, without consulting us—and without destroying us. Let it be Your will.”
And then He said: “Let Us make man in Our image and likeness.”
Maybe the Torah is not about teaching us to recognize and love God and follow Him in His laws and rules. Perhaps it is about showing us over and over again the Lord’s stubbornness for believing in humanity despite itself and its arrogant and haughty behavior above all.
He believed in Adam and Chavah. He believed in Noach. He believed in Abraham, in Yitzchak and Yaakov; of course He believed in Moshe. He believed in the prophets and, says the Talmud, on the prophetesses and matriarchs He could count even more because their attachment to the Kadosh Baruch Hu (dvekut, in Hebrew) was much stronger than men’s.
God believed in the People of Israel even when they challenged and ignored Him repeatedly. And He continues betting on us on and on, on humanity and on our People.
This is the essence of the Torah. Showing us that, in spite of us, the Lord maintains His belief in us. And we owe Him for this; not only gratitude for life, for our world, for Creation, but for that enormous and constant trust that we can do something better for this world—even though we have not achieved to do it so far.
As said before, the Talmud described two things that would happen with the creation of humanity. The result is: not all of us have acknowledged Creation, but we are surely destroying it.
Hence, it is our responsibility to change this state of things. It is time for us to realize that Creation totally changed when we were created precisely because we, endowed with the awareness of it, can fully acknowledge Creation for its wonders in our daily lives (something that a mineral probably is not able to do) and, therefore, we can take care of it.
We have a commitment—as Jews, as a people, as humanity—to make the world work differently, and yet we are not taking it. It is our duty, in this rereading of Bereshit, to understand this meaning of man’s creation: to admit that we are responsible for what has been bequeathed to us and that there is a permanent trust that we will be able to do it.
Maybe it is time to answer this trust, this perennial call.
May we have a better world starting with a better society, so that Creation might last for many, many thousands of years more.
Rabbi Gustavo Geier