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Beit Midrash Torah Portion and Tanach Bereshit

Brave New Worlds

Rabbi Stewart WeissTishrei 23 5776
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Is our world the only world? Some people would have us believe that the Universe is so large that it must, by sheer odds, contain at least 1 other world like ours. But so far – sorry, Mr. Mars! - no proof of that has ever been found.

Yet there is a famous Midrash in our Sedra that says G-d created many worlds before our own, destroying them, one at a time, until He finally arrived at this one. What a strange idea! Why would Hashem - who is All-seeing, All-knowing - create something imperfect that He
is ultimately destined to destroy? Why not just start with this world, and then go on from there?

I have an idea.

The first 3 major characters in the Torah: Adam, Noach and Avraham, all have something very interesting in common. All three of them saw their world destroyed before their very eyes, and had to create a whole new world, a whole new life, for themselves and their families.

Adam was banished from Gan Eden, from his pampered, personal Paradise where he did not have to work, where he was immortal, where no pain or struggle existed. Now, he would have to live by the sweat of his brow and subdue Earth’s elements in order to simply survive.

Noach watched as the whole world went down the drain. Every person, every place he had known was no more. He emerged from the Ark to a brand new world, and had to start over from scratch. (No wonder he went right out and planted a vineyard, so he could drown his sorrows!)

Avraham, too, was told to leave his land and home and begin anew "in the land I will show you." (Wisely, Hashem did not reveal to Avraham til later that he was making Aliya!) Life in Israel, as we know, is a whole new ballgame.

Now we can understand the Midrash! Hashem created and destroyed worlds in order to put this characteristic, this capability, this strength in the DNA of Am Yisrael. For we, too, have been destined to build worlds in virtually every corner of the planet - from Ur to Spain to Poland - only to see them destroyed in front of us and have to start again. Says G-d: If I could do it, then so can you!

And no wonder Bereisheit comes so close to Sukkot: For then, too, we build homes, only to dismantle them 8 days later! How many homes have we built on this Earth in the last 3000 years, only to pack them up and move on?

But IY"H, this pattern must come to an end. The homes we build in Israel are permanent, not temporary housing.
Rabbi Stewart Weiss
Was ordained at the Hebrew Theological College in Skokie, Illinois, and led congregations in Chicago and Dallas prior to making Aliyah in 1992. He directs the Jewish Outreach Center in Ra'anana, helping to facilitate the spiritual absorption of new olim.
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