BERESHIT

The Jewish Chronicle - - Judaism -

“And he said: ‘I heard Your voice in the gar­den and I was afraid, be­cause I was naked; and I hid my­self’” Gen­e­sis 3:10

AT THE dawn of his­tory, Adam in par­adise is un­able to re­sist one re­stric­tion, the tree of knowl­edge.

Yonatan ben Uziel com­ments that Adam hid, not be­cause of his naked­ness, but from fear and shame of his sin. But Adam had the courage to stay put and ad­mit his guilt. He never fled from the gar­den: he had to be thrown out.

A gen­er­a­tion later, the pic­ture changes. Par­ents who com­pro­mise the word of God, and think that they can live in par­adise on their own terms, stand aghast as they see their fam­ily torn apart, with brother killing brother.

This time, no-one hides. Adam, who con­fronted his guilt with shame and fear, over­hears his son Cain’s ar­ro­gant re­but­tal: “Am I my brother’s keeper?” How quickly things change. How speedy is the gen­er­a­tional tran­si­tion. Par­adise has turned sour, and a fam­ily world has been shat­tered. A fa­ther faces the shame of lesser guilt, but a son de­nies even the most heinous of crimes.

Par­adise lost, how­ever, can be par­adise re­gained. The Almighty, in ex­pelling Adam and Eve from the Gar­den of Eden, placed angels called Cheru­bim at the gates, with fiery swords to guard the way.

Rabbi Sam­son Raphael Hirsch notes that the only other ref­er­ence to Cheru­bim in the To­rah is that of the child­like fig­urines placed on the Ark in the Holy of Holies of the Sanc­tu­ary. How strange that the sym­bols of de­struc­tion should be placed on the very sym­bol of our faith!

The angels at the gates of par­adise, how­ever, were placed there not to keep man out but to guide his re­turn. Man’s quest to find par­adise on earth is ful­filled as he finds the Cheru­bim of God.

Placed on the Ark, they plot a new path to the par­adise that our fore­fa­ther Adam once for­feited. RABBI YIS­ROEL FINE

This year’s sidrah pan­el­lists are:

Rabbi Yis­roel Fine, Cock­fos­ters and North South­gate United Syn­a­gogue

Rabbi Natan Levy, Shen­ley United Syn­a­gogue; head of the Lon­don School of Jewish Stud­ies' Jewish Re­spon­si­bil­ity unit

Elaine Robin­son, di­rec­tor of Jewish ed­u­ca­tion, the Jewish Com­mu­nity Secondary School

Rabbi Brian Fox, Meno­rah (Re­form) Syn­a­gogue, Manch­ester

Rabbi Gideon Sylvester, United Syn­a­gogue Tribe Is­rael; ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of Yeshi­vat Hamiv­tar, Efrat

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