Parashah (portion) Bereshit – The Kabbalah of Creation
Genesis 1:1 – 6:8
I love the esoteric interpretation by Nachmanides–Rabbi Moses ben Nachman, born in Spain (1194-1270)–on the first verse of Genesis:
In a beginning God created the heaven and the earth. [Gen. 1:1]
Nachmanides helps us see that the usual English translation misses the deeper meaning. If we were to strictly follow the way the verse is written in Hebrew we would write this sentence as follows:
In a beginning created God the heaven and the earth. [Gen. 1:1]
In so doing we are confronted with the possibility that the word “God” might not, after all, be the subject of the sentence, but instead, may be its object. And if this is the case, what then, is the subject that “created”? And more specifically, what is it that “created” God?
Nachmanides answers as only a mystic can. He points to the fact that in Torah the word “beginning” has a little crown drawn atop one of its letters. The word “crown” is Keter in Hebrew, and Keter represents the highest level of consciousness on the kabbalistic Tree of Life. Keter is described as pure consciousness, Mind beyond Mind, ultimate Divine Formlessness within which the original inspiration for creation stirs; the first ripple in the stillness of the Infinite One. For Nachmanides, Keter is the missing subject: “… Keter created God…”
The way I personally render Nachmanides’ teaching is by creating a space between the words. As I read this first verse it looks like this in my mind: “In a beginning _______ created God…” In that space I breathe the silence of Pure Consciousness, Ultimate Formlessness out of which God is created.
God is created? Now what could that possibly mean? Here again, the English betrays us. The word translated as “God” is Elohim in Hebrew. Elohim is the name of God written in the plural; the One manifesting as the many. Pure Consciousness, Formless Awareness cannot create on its own. It needs first to manifest itself as Elohim so that, as Elohim, it can proceed with Creation. Elohim is the feminine aspect of the Divine, the Womb of Existence that receives the creative spark out of Pure Consciousness and births a Universe.
Nachmanides, like all mystics, invites us to the mystery beyond our so-called reality. He tells us not to stop at a literal interpretation of the events that befall us but to see behind them the mystery of the Infinite One unfolding before our very eyes. What if, this year, as we embark on a new cycle of reading the Torah, we began seeing our world not through our little i’s but through the eyes of God, present to the miracle that is every moment, every thing, every one?