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    Where the Bible began – B’reshit

    Rabbi Yitzchak, possibly to be identified with the father of Rashi, wondered – as we all do – why the Torah began with Creation.

    If it is the story book of the Jewish people, why did it not commence with the beginning of the Jewish nation in the time of Moses?

    There are many answers. Here is one idea: the Bible has two main characters, God – and man. Genesis brings man into the story. God needs man to tend the Creation; man needs God to show him how. The two of them, God and man, are covenantly intertwined from the first moment of history.

    Man often fails and lets God down; God is often a puzzle and sometimes a disappointment to man. But neither the Bible nor God starts off with an adjectival man.

    That was the answer I gave when, at the Jewish Institute in Adler Street in London’s East End, an elderly member of my audience asked me rather ungrammatically many years ago, “Adam and Eve – they was Jewish, yes?”

    No, Adam and Eve were not Jewish, but there came a stage when God found it necessary to mould a particular people to live by His commandments and be a light to the nations.

    The Bible needed to begin with Adam-and-Eve man before telling the story of Jewish man.

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