Saturday, October 29, 2005

In the Beginning

Today we started once again at the beginning of the Torah – at Genesis – B’rei Sheit. This is the story of creation. Actually there are two different versions of the creation story. I don’t think most intelligent humans think for a minute that either of the stories describes what really happened. But each year we read them and accept the symbolic meaning of creation they represent.

Our new associate rabbi Toby told an interesting story from the Mishnah concerning the creation of humankind:

We are all conceived with the full knowledge of the Torah. It is only upon our birth that God breathes into each of us a soul and removes the knowledge of the Torah, because there simply is not room for both. God leaves behind the small cleft in our upper lip, just the shape of a fingerprint, as a reminder of how we receive our soul.

I find that this is as good an explanation as any for how we come to have that inner presence that we come to know as our soul. As I sit here with my index finger seeking out that little cleft in my upper lip, I contemplate the beginning of humanity and what I believe to be the eternal nature of my soul.

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