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PARSHAT BERESHIT – THE GREATNESS OF THE GARDEN OF EDEN

בס”ד

Parshat Bereshit – 5784

וְנָהָר֙ יֹצֵ֣א מֵעֵ֔דֶן לְהַשְׁק֖וֹת אֶת־הַגָּ֑ן וּמִשָּׁם֙ יִפָּרֵ֔ד וְהָיָ֖ה לְאַרְבָּעָ֥ה רָאשִֽׁים׃

A river issued from somewhere in Eden to water the garden, and from there it disappeared into subterranean channels, dividedand surfaced outside of Eden77 and became four riverheads. This river was so rich in minerals and nutriments that even its offshoots endowed the lands they watered with great abundance.[1]

G-d sets man in Gan Eden at the beginning of man’s days on earth, and from there the life-giving river pours into the wide world. This river provided water to Egypt and Assyria, for example, both of which became prominent societies throughout history. This water is critical for the people and farmers because without it, there is no plant growth and hence no food for humans and animals. Without water, there can be no society or existence.

When we read Ezekiel 47:1-12, we find that during the Third Temple period, water-giving rivers would flow from the Temple into the wide world, where plants and trees will grow in luxuriance, fish will abound in the water, and the world, the society and people will be healthy.

On a deeper level, consider this unique river of life-giving water. The Torah, G-d’s Word, can be compared to life-giving water. This river breaks into four streams to represent the four realms of Emanation, Creation, Formation, and Action that came into being [arising every second] through His Word. Only in “our” world, the world of Action, is the water “diluted” to the point that we may utilize it and live in it. As a result, G-d places man in this sphere of activity. When G-d placed Adam in Gan Eden, He instantly spurred him to action, motivating him to cultivate the garden and actively guard it.

Adam had to water it and to guard the garden so that no animals enter therein and befoul it.[2]

The sages clarify that cultivating and guarding, which are represented by the Hebrew words עׇבְדָ֖הּ שׇׁמְרָֽה avoda and shamra signify practicing the positive commandments and abstaining from the negative commandments.[3]

So, as we work in our garden (balcony), we are busy watering the plants, controlling bugs, and making sure everything looks pleasant and colorful. It should be the same in our life; we should fill our hearts with Torah’s living water and combat bugs within our hearts. Pests that damage the beautiful fresh leaves by nibbling on them. Pests that wreak havoc on our connection with God.

Waters will flow from Jerusalem in the future, knowledge of God will spread across the world, and people will acknowledge and honor Him as King. The globe will return to Adam’s Gan Eden, with peace and harmony. But where do we stand now? In the time between the past garden and the future garden. We’re still in a garden today. Gan גַן is the Hebrew word for garden, and it has the numerical value of 53, which are the 53 parashot of the Torah[4]. The Torah enables us to bring Godliness into our daily lives.

This week we begin again with the first Parasha of the year 5784. May this be an insightful year in which we learn new things from the parashot that will lead to new practical changes in our lives.


By Angelique Sijbolts

Sources:

[1] Bereshit 2:10 and Kehot Chumash
[2] Ibn Ezra on Genesis 2:15:2
[3] Zohar
[4] There are actually 54 parashiot in the Torah, but Nitzavim and Vayeilech are considered one parashah that is occasionally split into two, as is noted in the Overview to parashat Nitzavim.


Texts: Sefaria.org

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