I hope everyone had wonderful holidays during the last several weeks, and has begun the New Year with joy. (That reminds me, I need to stop writing 5781 on my checks.)
This week, we again start the weekly cycle of Torah portions, with Parasha Bereishis. Of course, we think of it as the creation of the universe. Did you realize it is also the creation of the Boy Scouts?
In the very first chapter of the Torah God makes everything there is just by saying things. “God said, ‘Let there be light’”. (v. 3) “God said, “Let there be a firmament [the heavens]’”. (v. 6)
In fact, Pirke Avos (Ethics of the Fathers), a book of the Mishnah, explains, “With ten Divine Statements the world was created. And what does this come to teach? Is it not evident that it could have been created with one Divine Statement?” (5:1)
In his commentary on this verse, the great Italian Torah scholar Rabbi Ovadiah Sforno (1470-1550) points out that certainly God could have created everything with just one utterance. Instead, God chose to use a series of creations progressing to the creation that was in God’s image and likeness, Mankind. (Genesis 1:26) Sforno explains our job is to assist God by trying to perfect oneself and the world, thereby trying to be in God’s image and likeness.
As Jews, we do this by trying to live by the Torah. Scouting takes many Torah principles and puts them into a form – the Scout Oath, Law and Slogan – that young people of all faiths can accept and use as guides for living. Just as the Torah helps us perfect ourselves and the world, so does Scouting.
It’s OK that we are not perfect. God’s method of creation was meant for us to keep improving ourselves. So as you work on perfecting your practice of the Scout Oath and Law, you are continuing the work God began with creation.