This week, we again start the cycle of Torah portions, with Parasha Bereishis.
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) This was done over a period of six days, and on the seventh day God rested, creating Shabbat. Here is what God created each day with the divine statements:
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 (Rabbi Moshe ben Nachman, 1194–1270) 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 including humans.
Day 7 – Shabbat.
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 partnering with God in creation.