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Parashat Bereshit - 5778

Dear friends,

Shemini Atzeret, the Eight Day of Assembly, which we celebrate this Thursday, and Simchat Torah, which we celebrate this Friday, are the last holidays in the month of Tishrei, which began with the observance of Rosh Hashanah - the Jewish New Year - three weeks ago.

This year, Simchat Torah is followed immediately by Shabbat, when we begin the new cycle of Torah readings, starting with Bereshitt, the first portion in the Book of Genesis.

We are all familiar with the Creation Story. In Parashat Bereshit, the Torah describes how G0d created the world. As each wish is expressed, each thing comes into being. The last to be created were humans, a male and female, which G-d created 'in the image of G-d'. The Creation Story ends with the establishment of Shabbat, the Seventh Day, as a day of rest.

I see an important message in the way the calendar works out this year. As we conclude the special days of the month of Tishrei - Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot, Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah - we return to the reality of a regular year. The holidays are over, and it's back to the real world, to real life. How fortunate we are that it begins with the Shabbat of Bereshit, the Shabbat of 'the Beginning'. It is like an extra gift, a reminder of life's purpose, that no matter what we do throughout the week, Shabbat is the most important gift G-d gave us humans, who were created in G-d's image - a day of rest, of spiritual enrichment, of family and friendship - a day of peace.

We return to the greeting of Shabbat Shalom, a Peaceful Shabbat - a wish and a dream that humanity has been hoping for since that first Shabbat of Creation. Could it happen in our days? We certainly hope so.

Shabbat Shalom,