D’var Torah: Parshat Bereshit

Editors’ Note: Over the past few weeks, the Jewish people have been given many opportunities to reflect on themselves and the year that was. Now, as we start our return to routine, we have the opportunity to archive the year that was, and go back to the beginning, the beginning of a new year. In the Torah, that beginning is Parashat Bereshit, the story of creation. Far West’s Adinah Singer-Frankes gives us her take on this week’s parsha in today’s D’var Torah.

It is often hard for me to narrow down my love of Torah to one specific text or idea. Furthermore, I struggle with the concept around narrowing Torah down to one phrase or idea in general. Similarly, in USY we are often asked, “Why do you love USY so much?” or “what makes it so special?” It is not always something that we can narrow down to one single concept or value or idea. It is a collection of the different values that makes it what it is.

Every year we start from the beginning of the Torah. Sometimes, this book is viewed as the story or history of the Jewish people. However, it is also important to remember that it is a guide for the Jewish people’s morals and values on how we should live our lives. When applying this to the first story in the Torah, the story of creation, it can not go unnoticed that humility, as a moral, is a crucial part of human existence. In chapter 3, verse 7 of Bereshit, the text states:

“Then the eyes of both of them were opened and they perceived that they were naked, and they sewed together fig leaves and made themselves loincloths.”

After eating the fruit that they were not supposed to, Eve and Adam’s eyes were opened to their nudity. Nudity is arguably the state of existence in which a human being is most organically themselves and is most exposed to the rest of humankind. Once the parts of our bodies that are considered private are covered, we are keeping an important part of our selves private and personal. This is the simplest form of humility that we as people experience on a daily basis. That only enhances our ability to reflect humility into the rest of our lives.

Humility is also something that can be lost very quickly, and sometimes, unconsciously. More specifically in our USY setting, we are all learning to be Jewish leaders in our communities. Even if that doesn’t mean being in a titled position of power, everything we do is by us (USYers), for us. Humility can be lost in a matter of seconds when these leadership positions are abused in any way. For this upcoming year of Torah, I challenge each and every one of us to critically think about and consider our humility and the way in which we hold ourselves. Torah, the book and the idea, is here as a resource for us as Jewish people and as teens to understand our place in this world while still lifting up and praising others as well.

Adinah Singer-Frankes is a junior from Far West USY. She is a proud member of Temple Beth Am Los Angeles USY (TBALA) in Los Angeles, California, and is currently serving as regional Religion/Education Vice President.