Below is a collection of Parashat Bereshit resources created by The Lookstein Center staff or contributed to the site by Jewish educators.
This is a growing collection. Check back soon or write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you didn’t find what you’re looking for.
DISCUSSION AND REFLECTION QUESTIONS
Question #1: Can you resist temptation? In Parashat Bereshit, we read about how the snake tempts Eve to eat from the forbidden tree. He asks her (3:1), “Did God really say: You shall not eat of any tree of the garden?” He tempts her with his words, and she is also tempted because the fruit looks good and she takes some to eat and gives some to Adam. Has someone ever tried to tempt you to do something that you knew was wrong? What kind of strategies did they use to try to convince you? When is it hard to avoid temptation? When is it easy?
Question #2: What is a good apology? Has someone ever apologized to you and you felt it wasn’t sincere? In Parshat Bereshit, Kayyin kills his brother, Hevel. Afterward, God punishes him and tells him that the land will be cursed and will not provide food easily and that he is banished to be a wanderer for all time. Kayyin then replied, “Is my sin too great? I have been banished from you and from the land?” Do you think he apologizes? What do you think makes a good and valid apology?
Question #3: What makes you so special? What do you think that means? How is it possible to be like God? In Bereshit, we read that man was created in the “likeness” or “image” of God four different times! When God creates man, we read:
- (1:26) “וַיֹּ֣אמֶר אֱלֹהִ֔ים נַֽעֲשֶׂ֥ה אָדָ֛ם בְּצַלְמֵ֖נוּ כִּדְמוּתֵ֑נוּ – Let us make a man in our image”
- (1:27) “וַיִּבְרָ֨א אֱלֹהִ֤ים ׀ אֶת־הָֽאָדָם֙ בְּצַלְמ֔וֹ – And God created man in His image”
- (1:27) ”בְּצֶ֥לֶם אֱלֹהִ֖ים בָּרָ֣א אֹת֑וֹ – in the image of God He made him”
- (5:1) “בִּדְמ֥וּת אֱלֹהִ֖ים עָשָׂ֥ה אֹתֽוֹ – He made him in the likeness of God”
Question #4: When Shet (the third son of Adam & Eve) is born, his name is explained that he is the replacement for Hevel, whom Kayyin had killed. When a parent names a child after someone else (usually deceased, in the Ashkenazic tradition, or alive, in the Sefardic tradition) does it place an unfair burden on the child, or is it a gift of a legacy?
Question #5: The end of chapter 5 offers a vague description of a situation of men taking “choice” women. The commentaries struggle with explaining the event, but most explanations involve people in positions of power, whether physical, social or financial, using that power to achieve their desires. Is it wrong for people who have influence to actually use it? For example, is there anything wrong with parents using their contacts to help secure a place for their children in the school of their choice, to get an interview with a particular firm, or to get an early appointment with a particular doctor? If a parent feels uncomfortable using their influence and does not use his/her influence, is their behavior ethically correct or are they being delinquent in their responsibility as a parent?
LESSON PLANS AND ARTICLES
Lessons in Bereshit – This lesson plan for middle school and high school students explores some of the key themes of creation.
The Tapestry of Creation – Creative Music and Drama – This article from The Lookstein Center’s journal, Jewish Educational Leadership, shares artistic approaches to help students connect to the act of creation.
Creation and Shabbat – This two-part lesson plan for high school students analyzes the parallels between the commandment of Shabbat and creation. Click here to view part 2.
The Biblical Stories of Creation, Garden of Eden, and the Flood: History or Metaphor? – This article explores the messages of key stories from Bereshit.