This is Shabbat Bereishit, the Shabbat when we start reading the Torah from Genesis, the Shabbat of beginning.
We finished the book of Deuteronomy as we learned of Moses’ death. The Torah describes Moses’ last instant of life as an exhale. Moses and God, two best friends, are alone in this human moment as Moses exhales his final breath and God inhales it.
And then we immediately begin the book of Genesis, the description of God creating the first human beings. Once the body has been formed, God breathes life into the person –God exhales and the human being inhales that breath. By connecting the end of Torah to the beginning of Torah, we understand that we exist on the shared breath of God and humanity. As Moses exhales, God inhales, and as God exhales, we inhale.
Breathing is so natural to us, so involuntary, we don’t think of the holiness of each breath. The cycle of reading Torah, and connecting the end to the beginning, has many meanings. It is not just the philosophical statement that there is no end and no start to the layers of Torah, it is also the realization that the end informs the beginning. It is a statement that everything is truly connected.
In a world governed more and more by social media and online communications, it’s easy to become passive and disconnected from each other. Genesis reminds us that the vision of creation is a world of relationships and connection, the shared breath, the spiritual empowerment. We do not read Torah again, we read Torah anew.
I’d like to wish everyone a sweet and peaceful Shabbat –our Jewish time to regroup, rest, and reinvigorate.