The Bible Says What? ‘Creation happened twice?’
search

The latest Jewish News

Read this week’s digital edition

Click Here

The Bible Says What? ‘Creation happened twice?’

Finchley Reform Synagogue's  Rabbi Miriam Berger takes a controversial topic from the the Torah and offers a progressive response

Those who use the creation narrative as a way of trashing religion have clearly never read past the first chapter of the book of Genesis.

Although initially Torah sets out the beginning of the world by seven days of creation, as soon as that narrative ends, the Eden narrative begins as its own beginning of time, which could equally effectively start the Torah as its own creation story.

The Eden narrative returns to a barren nothingness and the creation of human beings again. This isn’t a case of a bad redactor, a need for editing or a case of a continuity oversight.

Generations of commentators have found ways to resolve this, reading the creation of Eden as a next step, happening after the initial creation and building upon it.

However I think there is a hidden and much more significant message lost when read in that simplistic way.

We are a people who have two equally well-known and well-regarded creation myths. Why would our central texts and our sacred works create this duality of narratives?

The Torah is settings its agenda from the outset, encouraging us to be a people who ask difficult questions and to struggle with the hardest concepts despite knowing we will never have certainty or fact.

Before we even get to Abraham and the challenges of monotheism and having faith in God, we are encouraged to ask not just from where we came, but how did the world begin.

The Torah sets itself up not to be a science book with answers, but a manual for life that encourages questioning, discussion and debate.

It encourages a plurality of views by preserving from its opening chapters two oral traditions, two ancient stories, no “right answers”, but many opportunities to ask questions.

  •  Rabbi Miriam Berger serves Finchley Reform Synagogue

Listen to this week’s podcast here:

Help perform the greatest mitzvah: save a life

While life in Israel has returned to normal and hopes are high that Britain is set for a summer without restrictions thanks to vaccines, for billions around the world there is no such imminent light at the end of the tunnel. In the majority of countries around the globe, particularly the poorest, the vaccine rollout has barely kicked off.

That's why Jewish News, the leading source of news and opinion for the entire UK community, is throwing its full weight behind UNICEF’s VaccinAid campaign by using this platform usually reserved for encouraging donations towards our own journalism to instead urge our readers around the globe to perform the greatest mitzvah: saving a life.

We have never before done this for any charity fundraiser but it's hard to recall a campaign that affects so many people, and indeed an entire planet aching for a return to normality. Just like the Chief Rabbi and Rachel Riley, we hope to boost the mission to deliver two billion vaccines, 165 million treatments and 900 million test kits around the world by the end of this year.

Please donate as much as you can, in the spirit of the Talmudic sages: “to save one life is to save the world entire”

read more:
comments