Congregation Etz Hayim at Hollis Hills Bayside

The consolidated communities of Hollis Hills Bayside Jewish Center and Marathon Jewish Community Center

Shabbat Bereshit 5781

 
Dear Friends,
 
For the first time since the beginning of the pandemic, we have a Shabbat morning simhah–the B’not-Mitzvah of Chase and Etana Keppel. We are excited to have a celebration in shul, and I’m excited that the young women are reading and teaching Torah!
 
Since they are teaching, and I’m delivering a charge to them after their haftarah, I’ll use this space to share some thoughts about the Torah portion, Bereshit
 
After Adam and Eve are banished from the Garden of Eden, God creates two obstacles to their return. “He drove the man out, and stationed east of the garden of Eden the cherubim and fiery ever-turning sword, to guard the way to the tree of life” (Genesis 3:24). This perpetually rotating sword, lahat herev hamit-hapekhet, seems to be a familiar mythical motif to ancient Israel. And it seems as uninviting as could be imagined–a harsh deterrent to any descendant of Adam and Eve who might try to return to the Garden.
 
But in a recent song, Israel’s living rock poet laureate, Ehud Banai, paints a different picture of the sword. The song, Lahat Herev Mit-hapekhet, speaks winsomely of the innocence of life in the Garden, and the inevitable banishment. But the sword “rotates from the past to the future/waiting at the edge of the road, casting light like a torch.” It’s not a deterrent; it’s a GPS. “The fiery rotating sword, an electric thunderbolt inside a black cloud/We will follow it until the light comes up.” The return to the Garden is not forever blocked; it’s humanity’s destiny. 
 
The hopeful notes of Banai’s lyrics are paired with a haunting melody and acoustic guitar by Nushi Paz. When I hear music like this, especially Israeli music, my faith in a future redemption grows. It gives me great hope not only for the Jewish People, but for all humanity. We will get ourselves back to the Garden.
 
 
 
Did you know that my first rock concert was Bereshit
 
Wishing you a Shabbat Shalom, and as always good health 
 
Rabbi David Wise