Once again, we begin the cycle of reading the Torah, with the story of the creation of the universe, Parsha Bereishit.
You’ll recall that God creates things on different “days”. (The rabbis disagree on whether these were 24-hour days.) Let’s review what God created on each day:
Day 1 – Light and darkness. The light was intensely spiritual. The darkness is not just the absence of light, but a specific creation.
Day 2 – A firmament separating the waters above and the waters below. The firmament was the heavens, which began forming on Day 1 and now were completed. Ramban says the heavens were created “From the light of the raiment” of God, and thus were also very spiritual.
Day 3 – Dry land, separating the waters on the earth, and vegetation of all kinds.
Day 4 – The luminaries – the heavenly bodies created on Day 1 – are set in their places.
Day 5 – Animals in the sea and in the heavens.
Day 6 – Land animals and mankind.
Day 7 – Shabbat.
The parasha goes on to describe many other things: The creation of the Garden of Eden; details about the creation of the first man and woman, Adam and Eve; their eating of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil; their sons, Cain and Abel; Cain’s jealousy of Abel and his murder of Abel; Cain’s banishment from the Garden of Eden; and the generations of Adam and Eve down through Noah and his sons.
As Scouts, we learn a very important lesson in the sentence at Genesis 2:15: “And the Lord God took the man and placed him in the Garden of Eden, to work it and to guard it.” The Hebrew word “to work” is le’avdah. Most Hebrew words have a root, or shoresh, that forms the basis of the word. The shoresh of le’avdah is aved (ע ב ﬢ – reading right to left, ayin-vet-dalet). Aved is also the root for words that mean “service” and “servant”. So within the instruction to mankind to “work” the garden is the idea that we are to serve the garden the garden. And as it says clearly in the sentence, we are to guard the garden.
In the next sentence, God instructs man “of every tree of the garden you may freely eat”. Before we have permission to eat of the bounty of the garden, we must work the garden, serve it, fix it, and guard it.
Now we see that a Scout’s obligations to our environment, part of being Thrifty, come right out of our story of creation. Everything we learn about conservation, sustainability, stewardship of the land and “leave no trace” is part of the first chapters of the Torah.
Shabbat shalom (and please consider the environment before printing this page),