#BlogElul 23: Begin


After every ending, there must be a new beginning. That is how the Universe is set up.

In the Jewish calendar, every day starts with sundown – so in a sense, we always begin with an ending. The sun goes down, we sleep, and in the morning we face a new day, full of glorious potentiality. We may wake up with dread and fear that we brought with us from the day before, but we can choose to look at the rising sun and remember the Creation Story, where every day was a new day, with new things coming into existence.

In our tradition and liturgy, the memory of Creation is referenced constantly. In fact, it is the rationale for our most important holiday, the Sabbath – the memory of the seventh day of Creation.

On Friday nights, as the work week ends and we begin our celebration of Shabbat, the blessing that we use starts with the words of the Torah:

; וַיְהִי-עֶרֶב וַיְהִי-בֹקֶר, יוֹם הַשִּׁשִּׁי.
And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.

וַיְכֻלּוּ הַשָּׁמַיִם וְהָאָרֶץ, וְכָל-צְבָאָם
And the heaven and the earth were finished, and all the host of them.

וַיְכַל אֱלֹהִים בַּיּוֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִי, מְלַאכְתּוֹ אֲשֶׁר עָשָׂה; וַיִּשְׁבֹּת בַּיּוֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִי, מִכָּל-מְלַאכְתּוֹ אֲשֶׁר עָשָׂה
And on the seventh day God finished His work which He had made; and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had made.

וַיְבָרֶךְ אֱלֹהִים אֶת-יוֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִי, וַיְקַדֵּשׁ אֹתוֹ: כִּי בוֹ שָׁבַת מִכָּל-מְלַאכְתּוֹ, אֲשֶׁר-בָּרָא אֱלֹהִים לַעֲשׂוֹת
And God blessed the seventh day, and hallowed it; because that in it He rested from all His work which God in creating had made.

We don’t know what existed before our Universe came into being. One theory is that it started at a single point and will continue forever – in other theories, it starts, expands, collapses back on itself and starts again.

We have no way of knowing which is true. But I like to think that if the Universe ever ends, there will be a beginning afterwards, just as the new year of 5778 will begin when 5777 ends, just as morning follows night, every day that the sun rises and sets.

I find that hopeful – don’t you?

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