Parashat Bereshit is of course the first parasha of the Torah. In it, God created the world. Indeed, the meaning of the word Bereshit is in the beginning…
God went on to create Adam, but it soon became apparent that Adam needed a woman! (No surprise there!)
“Lo tov heyot ha-adam l’vado,” God said. “It is not good for man to be alone.”
Woman is created to be ezer ki-negdo, a term that is notably difficult to translate, to the man. Ki-negdo means "alongside, opposite, a counterpart to him." Ezer means active intervention on behalf of the other person. The woman is called ishah, woman, with an explanation that this is because she was taken from ish, meaning "man." Later on, she is given her own name, Ḥavah, or Eve. This means "living" in Hebrew. A long-standing exegetical tradition holds that the use of a rib from man's side emphasizes that both man and woman have equal dignity, for woman was created from the same material as man, shaped and given life by the same processes.
From this Torah portion we learn Eve was created to be Adam’s equal partner. However, women often have not been treated that way. In many places around the world, not much seems to have changed from the “old” days.
Fortunately in America today, women are largely treated as equals. Yet, even here, there is lots of room for improvement.
Thirty-two women are CEOs of the Fortune 500. Additionally, the percentage of women in the 115th Congress of the United States House of Representatives and Senate is 19.4%. We still have a long way to go in this area but it is still encouraging. In today’s world, women have proven to be successful leaders of countries, major corporations and institutions.
May we always be strong leaders and always gain knowledge to help improve and repair the world. And in this year of 5779 may we all have a sweet, healthy year filled with happiness and peace!
Seventh Year NWP Board Member
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