Beth Elohim Messianic Synagogue
Parashah #1: B’resheit (Genesis) 1:1-6:8
Haftarah: Yesha’yahu (Isaiah) 42:5-43:10
B’rit Chadashah: Mattityahu (Matthew) 1:1-17
The information provided in the teaching this year presents some terms and concepts with which you may not be familiar. However, it is my job to challenge you in your learning to come out of your intellectual comfort zone and strive for higher learning related to G-d and His Torah. Therefore, I encourage you to read over this teaching several times, highlight the terms with which you are unfamiliar, and study them carefully. They are defined within this paper for your convenience and enhanced understanding of the subject. If you have any questions, feel free to e-mail me at the link for questions at http://www.rabdavis.org.
Starting at the beginning of the Torah would seem to be a “no brainer.” However, the beginning of Genesis has been the source of numerable heated debates, conflicts, and misinterpretations. For the Orthodox Jew, the alef-tav written as the fourth word of the first sentence is untranslatable. For the Messianic Jew who has the insight of the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) through the words of HaTorah, Yahshua; G-d incarnate, that word establishes the fact that Yahshua was and is YHVH and of course, was present in the beginning. It is no coincidence that the alef-tav is placed in the middle of the sentence. After all, the Servant Lamp in the Temple menorah is also in the middle position. In the Kabballah, the Middle pillar represents “Keter” or “crown and is the mediator between G-d and man. Also along the Middle Pillar the Sefirot of beauty, foundation, and kingdom are included, with Justice dominating on the left pillar, and mercy on the right. This illustrates G-d incarnate as Yahshua and the teachings in the B’rit Chadashah that are consistent with those of the Old Testament. This makes perfect sense as Yahshua is G-d evidenced by the alef-tav written in the first sentence of our parashah that coincides with Yahshua’s identifying Himself in the book of Revelation as the Alef-Tav, the Alpha and Omega, and the Beginning and the End (Revelation 22:13). You may gain better understanding of the 10 Sefirot by going to the Chabad.org website or other sites that offer the Kabbalistic diagram of the Sefirot.
God is part of every molecule of His creation, but His essence, so to speak, is expressed in the Torah. As He is infinite, so is the Torah. Of course, there is a text which is finite, but as much as a finite text can have a conceptual and a spiritual basis that is connected to the Infinite, so is God’s word to us. You can study that from now until the day you die, and you will continue to learn new insights every day about yourself, life, spirituality, and the Infinite. The Ein Sof (The Infinite). It is no coincidence that the Torah is written in various levels of difficulty, much as considering a hologram. G-d’s commands, designated times, and other information crucial to our salvation is not difficult to understand. However, there are deeper meanings to not only the commands, but much of the other information in the Torah that will enhance our relationship to G-d if we take the time to prayerfully study, learn and integrate the new information into our lives. There is much more to teaching about the alef-tav that is not covered in this teaching so that I may introduce another word in the first sentence of Genesis that begs exploration. This word is created.
G-d made the world and everything in the universe. It is now possible for us to understand that He could have created the universe in any number of ways, many of which we are unaware simply because of His nature. But the word created in the Hebrew means more than “to make.” It means essenced. In other words, we may understand that He merely “thought” the universe into being. This could have been done through a Big Bang promoted by the scientific community without conflicting without distorting the words of Torah. The problem with the scientific explanation of the beginning of the universe begins with the theory of evolution versus creation which is beyond the scope of this parashah.
Continuing with the concept of essence and the fact that YHVH essenced the universe into existence brings up another concept that is scientific and spiritual. To essence or create something, one must make a space for the creation. People often go to the market or a craft fair and purchase things, only to find that when they get home, there is no room for their purchases! The individual must create space for the new purchase. Other items in the refrigerator are either thrown out or squeezed together to make room for “the other.” As G-d is omnipresent (everywhere), He had to make room for His creation. He withdrew Himself to the point that there would be room for His creation. This is a concept known in Kabbalah as tzim tzum (contraction). It was necessary somehow to conceal this infinite Light, thus creating a vacuum for the Finite Light to be revealed. One may draw an analogy to a ray of light from the sun. While it is within the sun, the ray has no independent identity because it is totally nullified by the greater light of the sun itself. Only when the ray has left the sun can it be recognized and perceived as having an independent identity.
To explain further, a parallel may be drawn from the world of teaching. Imagine Albert Einstein entering a primary school and being invited to teach a class of elementary mathematics.
For Einstein to communicate with the child’s mind, it is necessary that he put to the side all the theories and complexities of advanced mathematics and to focus on basic addition. In time, the child he is teaching may progress to study mathematics in high school, college, and then university. The student may even become a professor of mathematics himself, and may even surpass Einstein in brilliance. However, in the first stages the end product was concealed. The same is true with regards to Tzimtzum–G‑d purposefully drew back the infinite to create a space in which finitude could be realized. Withdrawing Himself to make room for creation did not extend to removing Himself from the universe to the point where He is no longer omnipresent. This is known as Atzmut; the essence of G-d which transcends everything. This concept may be compared to our refrigerator scenario. Just because one moves items around to make room for the new purchase, that does no negate the fact that the refrigerator light still illuminates the entire refrigerator contents when we open the door!
This is what Malachi the prophet meant when he spoke, “I, G‑d, have not changed.” G‑d remains the same after creation as before creation. He remains totally aloof from any change within the creation. All change took place within a manifestation of revealed power–the Or Ein Sof.
In the teaching metaphor, the purpose of Einstein removing quantum theory from his mind was to reveal elementary mathematics to the student. The process was for the purpose of revelation, so that the student would eventually progress to higher levels. The same is true of the Tzimtzum. The purpose of the Tzimtzum was not mere concealment, but also for revelation— a descent for the purpose of ascent. Through Tzimtzum a finite world was created. The Torah and Mitzvot can be likened to clothing or garments that are covering the Or Ein Sof. This world, with all its limitations, cannot contain the Infinite Light in its revealed state, but it can in concealment. Within this world one could reveal the pre-Tzimtzum Or Ein Sof as it is enclothed within Torah and Mitzvot, fulfilling the purpose of creation to create a dwelling for G‑d in this lowest realm.
In terms of human history, the revelation of this Light will take place in stages. At present the Shechinah (Glory of G-d) is concealed, but as history progresses into the Messianic Era there will be a greater revelation of the pre-Tzimtzum Light, even more so in the time of the Resurrection of the Dead, and finally when the New Jerusalem descends from heaven described in Revelation 21:22 24: “I saw no Temple in the city, for Adonai, G-d of heaven’s armies, is its Temple, as is the Lamb. The city has no need for the sun or the moon to shine on it, because G-d’s Sh’kinah gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it.” Again, we see the inextricable Oneness of YHVH/Yahshua.
Exile in any form is externally a result of sin. Internally, the real purpose of Exile is to reveal “self-sacrifice” (Mesirat Nefesh) for Mitzvah observance. This acts as an arousal from below and elicits a response from above in the form of reward in the Messianic Era. This is consistent with the B’rit Chadashah, specifically where Sha’ul discusses his and our adversities and trials, the reason for them, and how we should respond (2 Cor. 1:8-9; 4:7-17; Rom. 8:26-39)
We can now explain why G‑d first revealed the Infinite Light and why only then through a process of Tzimtzum revealed the Finite Light. The purpose of creation is Dirah BeTachtonim (a dwelling place for G‑d in the lower world). To fulfill this purpose, two things were necessary: the creation of a lower world and the ability of the lower world to ascend in its relationship to G-d. G‑d wants a person to live within this world and be above it at the same time, that He may be glorified and that the nations would come to know He is L-rd. Being within is Memale Kol Almin, while staying above is Sovev Kol Almin. In the mundane activities of business pursuits, eating, etc., one should “know G‑d in all their ways.” In spiritual activities, one stands above the creation when praying, learning, and living Torah. The purpose of creation is the fusion of these three. This is achieved only through a total “nullification” (Bittul) to Atzmut; to G‑d Himself in fulfillment of His desire in creation.
Haftarah: Isaiah 42:5-43:10
The haftorah opens with a statement by “the Almighty G-d, who created the heavens and stretched them out, who laid out the earth and made grow from it.” This echoes the Torah portion’s recounting of the creation of the world in six days.
G‑d speaks to the prophet Isaiah, reminding him of his life’s purpose and duty, namely that of arousing the Jewish people to return to being a light unto the nations, “To open blind eyes, to bring prisoners out of a dungeon; those who sit in darkness out of a prison.”
The prophecy continues with a discussion regarding the Final Redemption, and the song that all of creation will sing to G-d on that day. G-d promises to punish all the nations that have persecuted Israel while they were exiled. The prophet also rebukes Israel for their errant ways, but assures them that they will return to the correct path and will be redeemed. We must remember that Israel in this context are those who are deemed to be true believers according to the seven-fold witness in the Book of Revelation. Those simply living in geographical Israel have no promise of redemption by “default.”
This narrative echoes the lesson for this week. Our purpose on this earth is to glorify G-d by being a light unto the nations, reflecting the Light of YHVH/Yahshua in our thoughts and deeds.
B’rit Chadashah: Matthew 1:1-17; 19:3-9
Verses 1-17 provide us a wonderful precise genealogy of Yahshua HaMashiach beginning with Avraham. We know Yahshua existed with YHVH as part of the complex “Echad”(Oneness) of G-d (Gen. 1:1), but these verses provide the earthly record of Yahshua’s ancestry as G-d incarnate. A wonderful learning exercise is to look up the names listed in these verses. Understanding the essence of the names provides those who take the time a blessed and enhanced learning experience that those who passively read them cannot enjoy.
Verses 3-9 in Chapter 19 echo G-d’s desire for man. “… the Creator made them male and female, and that he said, ‘For this reason a man should leave his father and mother and be united with his wife, and the two are to become one flesh.” O the P’shat level of exegetic study, we learn that G-d intended the union of a man and a woman (Adam and Eve; not Adam and Steve or Eve and Genevieve). However, this statement does not say a man “will” or a man “shall” as in a command. As a side note, we can know that homosexuality is an abomination regardless of what religious leaders may say (Lev. 18:22; 20:13; Rom, 1:26; 1 Cor. 9). However, this is not the focus of the lesson today.
On the level of Kabbalistic understanding, we see how Yahshua fulfilled this passage. We know that YHVH includes male and female attributes and that Yahshua is G-d. Accordingly, Yahshua left his “father and mother” and will be united with Israel (all true believers) who will become one flesh at the end of this age.
Verses 7-9 echo G-d’s behavior towards Israel (the nation) when they committed idolatrous acts also considered sexual immorality. G-d divorced Israel but not Judah (Is. 50:1: Jer. 3:8). According to G-d’s law, a divorced man may not remarry his ex-wife (Deut. 24:3-4). Judah remains the “wife” of G-d. Israel (all true believers) will repent by the very definition of a true believer and partaker of the covenants of Israel (Ezek. 27:27-37) and will be taken as the bride of Yahshua that does not violate any of G-d’s laws on marriage (Rev. 19:7; 21:1-9; 22:17).
Rabbi Tamah Davis