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Blessings, Beasts, Bereshit

10/02/2021 09:07:47 AM


Shabbat Shalom! This week’s Torah portion is Parashat Bereshit, the beginning of it all! In chapter two of Genesis, we read that God presented the first human with animals to keep the human company and for them to be in partnership over the earth. The exact meaning of the verses are unclear, because it appears to be telling us that God created the animals with this purpose, although chapter one tells us that the animals were created before the human. Further, the animals are deemed not suitable partners for the human and another human of a new gender had to be formed to better steward the earth with the first human. And yet, there is still something very clear in those first few verses of chapter two that the human and the animals do have a special and important relationship. The human names all the animals and interacts with them and does not eat them. Not a lot of words are given in the Torah to allow us to fully understand love and affection among humans in general, let alone between the humans and the animals, but in as much as we can assume Adam loved his family, it seems fair to assume that Adam loved his first companions. 

It stands to reason then that we continue to call our pets our best friends, our fur babies, and count them among our family members. We gather this morning to celebrate the beautiful Shabbat that God gave at the beginning of creation, and this Shabbat especially we bless all of God’s creation as we read the Biblical story of the birth of our world. Ramban tells us, “It is possible that the phrase [‘whatever the man called each living creature, that would be its name’] be explained in connection with the matter of “the help” that G-d gave to Adam, and the meaning is that ha’adam nefesh chayah (man is a living soul), as it is said, And man became a living soul, (a few verses earlier in the parasha). And He brought before him all species so that every one of them unto which Adam would give a name and say that it is a living soul like himself, that would remain its name and be a help to him. So Adam gave names to all, but as for himself he found no help which he would be able to call “a living soul” like his own name.”

Although we cannot speak with our animals and we understand their mortal and moral souls differently from our own, and I think a year and a half with diminished in-person socializing has definitely reinforced for many of us the need for human companionship, our animals are certainly still a help to us and a fellow living spirit with love to give. 

This Shabbat, we bless our pets and all the animals of the earth for providing so many of our needs. May we continue to care for them and for all of God’s creation, that we may continue to do our Divine duties on Earth. Amen and Shabbat Shalom. 


Sat, May 28 2022 27 Iyyar 5782