Sedra of the week: Bereshit

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Sedra of the week: Bereshit

Rabbi Alex Chapper looks ahead to this week's portion of the Torah

The story is one we all learnt about as children – God created the world in seven days.

But what they did not teach us is that before God created this world, He created a thousand hidden worlds, all of them swept away in the blink of an eye until He created this one and declared: “This one pleases me, those did not.”

It is perhaps little wonder we were not taught this particular story, as it is a tradition contained in the mystical teachings of the Zohar.

To even attempt to understand the depths of this idea, we first have to remember the Midrashic statement that there are 70 facets to the Torah, which highlights that there are multiple ways in which the Torah may be interpreted.

Coupled with the fact that there are more than 200 major commentaries on just the first word of the Torah alone, we realise that it would take us a lifetime to know them all.

However, what emerges is a greater appreciation of the complexity of the world and an acknowledgement of the different levels of design and incredible beauty that surrounds us.

Like the thousand hidden worlds, we may not be able to see them all, but we sense that there is so much more to the universe than meets the eye.

The Torah is the blueprint of the world. As another Midrash teaches: ‘God looked into the Torah and created the world’.

The more we study it, the more we discover the layers of meaning it contains and the greater understanding we have of our world and its creator.

Star Trek’s Captain Kirk may have said that space is the final frontier, but certainly knowledge is the key to reaching the divine.

Rabbi Alex Chapper serves Borehamwood and Elstree United Synagogue

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