God created the universe with words. “And God said, let there be light, and there was light.” Words have power, and the words in the Torah are filled with intention. People have searched through the words of the Torah to find meaning and inspiration for thousands of years, and there are hints in the words that are used in the Torah that teach lessons only to be discovered generations later.

“אלה תולדות השמים והארץ (Genesis 2:4),” “This is the chronicle of heaven and earth.” That same word “toldot,” “chronicle,” is used two chapters later when all of the first generations of humanity are listed, “זה ספר תולדות אדם (Genesis 5:1),” “This is the chronicle of humanity.” Why is that same word used? The Chasidic commentator Degel Machaneh Efraim (Rabbi Moshe Chaim Efraim of Sudilkov) teaches that it is to show that just as God spoke and the world was created, so too can we create worlds with our words. And not only that, he says, but the Torah itself requires us, in every single generation, to interpret and understand the Torah “לפי מה שצריך לאותו דור ולפי שרש נשמתן של אותו הדור,” According to what that generation needs at the time, and according to the root of the soul of that generation.

So what does our generation need at this time? What is the soul of this generation? This week we start the cycle of reading the Torah anew. Now is a time of rebirth, a time of renewal.  This story, our story, is one of triumphant justice, of a people in pain being heard and marching to freedom. Let the words we read this Shabbat and this year inspire us to create a new world built on light, truth, justice, and love.

Shabbat Shalom.