Beraysheet by Rabbi David Hartley Mark

Beraysheet: A Few Words from God the Creator

by Rabbi David Hartley Mark

 

Another year gone by so quickly—and here we are again, at My Creation. What do I think of men and women today? When I remember the Past (which I do in great detail), well, Humankind, it’s a been quite a ride. Humankind—Ha! You have been hardly kind to one another; even now, the fate of your little blue marble hangs in the balance, with several nations, both great and small, rattling both conventional and nuclear weapons. And I gaze in horror as, a mere seventy-three years since the end of your World War II, several fascist political parties are taking root in both Europe and the Americas.

As for my particularly blessed Nation of America, “The Land of the Free and Home of the Brave”: briefly, you are letting Me down, no error. Don’t ask Me about your future; it’s your country, and your free will.

Humankind, when I created you—mainly because I was lonely; what good is it, being a God, if You have no worshipers?—I knew that I was taking a risk. And the angels in heaven advised Me against it. Perhaps they were correct.

“These—mortals, do you call them?— will turn out to be liars and thieves,” the Seraphim protested, as they burned fiercely, in righteous indignation. Never doubt a Seraph when It gets a cause into its teeth—they have no teeth, but you get My point.

“Leave the Torah with us!” they chorused, “It is perfect, as are we!”

“That will never work,” I answered, “You’ve already had the Torah for 4,000 years before Creation, and what have You done to improve and develop the universe? Nothing; you’ve been too busy praising Me. Which is fine—it’s all flattering—but I, being Perfect, hardly need your praise. I need people.”

“Why, Majesty?” asked Archangel Michael. He was a serious sort—certain gentile folk esteem him as the conqueror of the Devil, but I note that Old Scratch is rampant in the world today, nonetheless. Ah, well. I answered Old Mikey as follows:

“Humanity has potential, Michael,” I said, “and I choose to believe in them. All of you angels, from the Archangels on, down to the littlest Cherub, are already perfect; that’s how I created you. You have nowhere to progress in holiness, honesty, or integrity. You are among My metaphorical masterworks, but you are static. Humanity will be different: they will rise or fall of their own free will.”

Michael, I bless him, kept his own counsel. He understood, and was silent, sharpening his blade.

But then spoke up the Ouroboros, the Eternal Serpent. No, this was not the snake in the Garden of Eden. He coils and uncoils eternally through the Universe, proving that Space and Time will go on, until such time as I decide. He has been everywhere and seen everything; that is why I trust his council, more than that of the angels.

“Speak to Me, Ouroboros,” I said.

The beast uncoiled its head from the starry pile into which he had settled, cocked his head in thought, and spoke: “It is not for me, Majesty, to advise You. You are far beyond My comprehension, let alone that of mere mortals. I cannot, nor do I desire to, alter the fate of the Cosmos; my role is entirely to observe and assess. Sorry I cannot be of more help….”

“Understood, Ouroboros,” I said, disappointed. What good is a sovereign without effective advisers?

And so, I alone decided to go ahead and created Adam and Eve. What race, ethnicity, or skin color were they? They were the color of water: nourishing when they wished to be, of each other and the Earth; unstable and volatile when out of control. My plan was to make Adam the prototype, and Eve the perfected product. Alas, the man immediately crowned himself king of the couple, ordering the woman to wait on him and be his subordinate, despite her greater powers of wisdom, compassion, and intuition. This was vanity, and the veriest folly.

I will summarize the stories of which you have heard: my granting all of Creation to the First Couple. I warned them, “Conquer the earth—the entire solar system and universe, if you like. But do not defile My gift, by pumping poison into the air and sea. For I will not create you a second world.”

The two seemed amenable enough, and lived quietly and as happily as they could, even after the sin of eating the fruit (not an apple, as many believe; I Myself cannot recall what sort of fruit it was. Why is that so important?) Rather than live forever, as they would have won from the Tree of Life, they learned about sexuality, with all of its good and evil, from the Tree of Knowledge. It was not an easy education, and remains so.

Cain’s murder of Abel was a dark day—notwithstanding that it never took place. It was meant to beMy Torah Commentary on the passage of humanity from shepherding to farming. What disturbs and worries me is the prevalence of warfare and suffering inflicted by men upon one another. Dictators and would-be emperors seem to dominate the earth, these days. I wish that I could put a stop to all this bloodletting, but My gift of free will to humanity limits My ability to intervene, except in small, miraculous ways.

It also breaks My heart to see that, despite My warning to Adam and Eve about destroying the earth through chemicals and the heat of global warming, some simpleton-scoundrels continue to say that it doesn’t exist. It is a climate issue, fools, not a weather-related one. Ah, well: what’s the use? Bake yourselves in an oven of your own making, but beware the arsenal of floods, fires, earthquakes and windstorms that you, not I, am sending your way.

So you see that there is little to be optimistic about—and am I not the Lord your God, Who ought to be more hopeful about the entire business? Still, I must muster my feelings of idealism—can you not, as I do, recall an earlier time, when the morning stars sang together, and the Angels of God shouted for joy? I can….

So, to sum up: what I, in My Glorious Majesty, believe about Man, My Crown of Creation?

In My experience with him (and, to a lesser extent, with her; she is first coming into her majority, albeit slowly), I have seen him behave with cruelty, barbarity, and bloodshed, making certain of him lower than the yahoo. An iguana is more civilized, a water buffalo more graceful and mannered, and an eagle capable of greater heights; certainly, of more class. I have seen vile dictators, self-serving politicians, bloodthirsty conquerors, and rapacious soldiers of fortune come—and go to their eternal reward. That is why I created both Hell—and Heaven; humanity needs both the threat of retribution and the garland of reward to inspire their life’s-path.

Still, every so often, one man comes along who, through his courage, effort, and absolute perseverance, will redeem the rest of the herd from its blindness and prejudice. I think of Abraham, once I showed him that paganism must be tolerated; it cannot be altogether obliterated. Or Moses, who bore most of his own failings and his People’s shortcomings with patience and grace. Finally, of Job, whose patience under affliction raised him from a  pile of ashes to the heights of nobility amid suffering.

Humanity is a project under construction. Do I regret having created them? Certain individuals, certainly, but I will deal with their fate in My own good time. As for the remainder—let them strive to do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly.

Yes: I, even I, enjoy quoting Myself. Shalom, B’nai Adam v’Chava—Peace, Children of Adam and Eve!


Rabbi David Hartley Mark is from New York City’s Lower East Side. He attended Yeshiva University, the City University of NY Graduate Center for English Literature, and received semicha at the Academy for Jewish Religion. He currently teaches English at Everglades University in Boca Raton, FL, and has a Shabbat pulpit at Temple Sholom of Pompano Beach. His literary tastes run to Isaac Bashevis Singer, Stephen King, King David, Kohelet, Christopher Marlowe, and the Harlem Renaissance.

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