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    Tohu VaVohu – B’reshit

    B’reshit commences with God creating an ordered universe in place of the tohu vavohu, the “chaos and void”.

    The American Jewish version renders the Hebrew, “unformed and void”. Other translations include “an unformed waste”.

    With its doubled ohu, Tohu Vavohu is a play on words.

    The vav (“and”) does not, however, separate the words but makes them into a hendiadys, one unit.

    Another example is Gen. 1:14, “signs and seasons”, which indicates “set times”; the device is also found in Gen. 3:16, “your pain and travail”, i.e. “your childbirth pain”.

    English has its own hendiadys, e.g. “well and good”, “good and ready”.

    In human terms, a good marriage is not merely two people, a husband and wife, but basar echad, “one flesh” (Gen. 2:24). Yiddish has a good phrase for father and mother, D’Tattemamme – “the daddy-mummy”.

    The best relationships have a unity of emotion, thought and being.

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