אֵ֣לֶּה תֹולְדֹ֧ות הַשָּׁמַ֛יִם וְהָאָ֖רֶץ בְּהִבָּֽרְאָ֑ם בְּיֹ֗ום עֲשֹׂ֛ות יְהוָ֥ה אֱלֹהִ֖ים אֶ֥רֶץ וְשָׁמָֽיִם
“Such is the story of heaven and earth when they were created” (JPS Tanakh)
There is a historical teaching that the Hebrew Bible (Tanakh) is not merely one book, but several sources stitched together over time.
Take the appearance of this line from Genesis 2:4. History tells us it is actually a bridge between the former Priestly and latter Jahwist source material of Tanakh, which put together, offer two contrasting readings of Jewish history and Judaism, by large.
The Jahwist source identifies G-d as Lord “who brings” the world into being and was compiled during Solomon and David’s monarchies, inspiring questions about the direction of the People Israel’s history and ultimate meaning.
The Priestly source, on the other hand, uniquely suggests that self-differentiation is the answer to Israel’s stateless existence. Here, we see a Jewish system of living, based on the Five Books of Moses, is key to preserving Jewish identity in a world that consistently attempts to undo it.
The above line from Genesis 2:4 grounds us in the knowing that we are part of not only where we have been, but where we are now, and where our history is going.
And quite literally, it demonstrates the tapestry of Jewish history, that each of us and our lives, are part of a story within a story, within a story – a complex fabric of beautiful unfolding. Jewish art is, therefore, a holy passageway to present, past, future, People, self and to G-d.