Parshat Bereishit

The Book of books starts with the beginning of beginnings: the creation of the universe and life. The story is told from two different perspectives, first as cosmology (the origins of matter), then as anthropology (the birth of humanity).

The first narrative (Gen. 1:1-2:3) emphasises harmony and order. God creates the universe in six days and dedicates the seventh as a day of holiness and rest. The second (Gen. 2:4-3:24) focuses on humanity, not as biological species but as persons-in-relation. God fashions man, sees that “It is not good for the man to be alone,” and then fashions woman. The serpent tempts them; they sin and are banished from the Garden.

From then on, the human drama unfolds as tragedy. Cain murders his brother. By the end of the parsha, God sees “how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become” and “regrets that He had made man on earth.” God creates order, man creates chaos. Which will prevail?