As we begin the cycle of Torah reading and start anew with Perashat Bereshit, I realize how appropriate it is for us to read this portion immediately after the period of the High Holidays. We spent the days of Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur contemplating ourselves, trying to figure out who we are, how we can improve, and how to continue on a righteous path. The famous story of Adam and Hava in the Garden of Eden explains to us how we came to be the people that we are today. Even in the most perfect circumstance man is easily tempted often disobeys, and does the wrong thing. The Torah does not hide human foible, rather makes mention of it time and time again. The snake represents all obstacles and outside influences that sway us from right to wrong.
As the holidays ebb away, often many of our New Year’s resolutions go with it. Our promises to fulfill more missvot, to be better people, and to avoid our evil inclinations may quickly be forgotten, as the memories of our tefillot on these Days of Awe are reduced to a distant thought.
Sefer Bereshit deals with our role models, who were very much human and relatable, but who strived to constantly better themselves. Adam and Hava set the tone for humanity, failing to live the lives of “perfection” perhaps envisioned for them.
Each week as we study the human characteristics of our biblical heroes and heroines let us keep in mind the promises of our High Holiday prayers and realize that although we are not perfect we can always aim to better ourselves.
Rabbi Elie Abadie, M.D.