Parshat Bereshit: Praying for the World

“Each and every blade of grass has a special song of its own.” – Naomi Shemer, based on Rebbe Nachman of Breslav

In the midst of the story of creation of the heavens and earth, before humankind was even created, parshat Bereshit provides seeds of wisdom on the fundamental value of tefillah for the world. 

In the retelling of creation in Bereshit chapter 2, just before Adam is created, the Torah states: “When no shrub of the field was yet on earth and no grasses of the field had yet sprouted, because God had not sent rain upon the earth AND there were no human beings to till the soil.” Why did God withhold the rain? And why are there two reasons given for why the grass had not grown? Rashi connects the two reasons: God withheld the rain because there were not yet human beings to be “makir tov” (to appreciate) the rain. When Adam felt the need for rain, for sustenance for the world, he prayed for rain which enabled the grass and trees to grow. 

Rashi’s commentary extracts from the creation story a number of significant elements about the nature of tefillah. Rashi characterizes Adam as praying not only for himself, but for the sake of the world. Moreover, tefillah instills within us the ability to be “makir tov,” to feel and express appreciation to God and others for the good we receive. Finally, the world was only fully created, the grass only sprouted, once Adam prayed. Rashi’s interpretation teaches that our sustenance and the subsistence of the world depends on our tefillot. 

Parshat Bereshit highlights that tefillah is integral for the world. It also enhances our ability to be “makir tov,” to express appreciation, which leads to further growth and goodness. Shabbat Shalom – Karen Miller Jackson

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s