, , , ,

We tend think of time as a straight line, marching inexorably forward. But we live within an endless mobius strip of time; seasons and months, holidays and birthdays, day and night. Judaism honors those cycles, and immediately after the fall holidays we embark on a cycle of reading the Torah from the beginning.

How often can you read the same book? Every year from beginning to end, and then over again… and again… and again. Year after year.

The secret is understanding that the Torah is written in a kind of code, a complicated web of metaphor and poetry, populated by a revolving door of complex characters, most notably a God who is sometimes loving and sometimes angry, sometimes strict and sometimes willing to change Their mind.

In short, it’s not a simple read.

And  as the seasons turn, we too change and our perspective changes. We see Abraham differently. One year he seems like a hero, the next he appears to be clueless.

Even so, people often ask: Now that we’ve finished reading Deuteronomy, why not keep going? The other books are important too, right?

True. But none of them take us to the beginning, the beginning of time, the beginning of creation, the beginning of God’s work. Over the course of the first of the five books, we watch God create human beings and then try to figure us out. Yes, Genesis reports that God created us in God’s image. But I’m not sure God really understands us. Even though Moses tried to help.

As we journey through the unfolding stories of the Torah, we accompany God on a journey of discovery, first with Noah, then Abraham, then Moses. A journey that I believe is definitely worth our time, year after year.

B’reishit. In the beginning… the first word of Genesis.