New Beginnings

How to complete the work of creation.


This commentary is provided by special arrangement withthe Jewish Outreach Institute, an organization dedicated to creating a more open and welcoming Judaism.

There are few beginnings that are not truly difficult. They demand of us a great deal of self-discipline and self-motivation, forcing us out of our complacency. Most beginnings require courage and fortitude. God created this world out of nothingness, says this week’s Torah portion. It was tohu vavohu­–a dark chaotic nothingness. The mystics say that since God fills the entire universe, God had to contract the Divine self in order for the world to have been created. 

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We are at a time of new beginnings in the Jewish community.The New Year has just started, and a new cycle of Torah readings, as well. The rhythm of Jewish life is unique for in it is the simultaneous action of forging ahead while holding on to the past.

What we do this year–as with every year in the journey of the Jewish people–will determine our future. Each step we take does make a difference. The ingredients for such a rich and vibrant community are before us. The rabbis teach that humankind is obligated to finish the creation of the world, started by God, as noted in Genesis. So if we want to create a more inclusive Jewish community, we have to begin now. We need only finish the creation already started.

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Rabbi Kerry M. Olitzky is Executive Director of Big Tent Judaism/Jewish Outreach Institute and the author of numerous books about Jewish spirituality.

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