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Breisheet (Genesis 1:1-6:8)

After the creation of the universe and all things on the earth, God created humanity as His crowning achievement. Once the first man was created, He didn’t just set him loose to fend for himself. He specifically placed him in a literal paradise called Gan Eden (The Garden of Eden). The Torah gives us a basic description of this place, saying, “And the LORD God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed. And out of the ground the LORD God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food” (Genesis 2:8–9).

When we typically think of Gan Eden, we think of something similar to a life of perpetual vacation—a life of luxury and pleasure, free from the cares of daily life. But when Adam was placed into the garden, he was placed there for a purpose. He was to act as its caretaker and guardian, as it says, “The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it” (Genesis 2:15). Adam had a twofold task. He was to “work” (Hebrew: avad), and “keep” (Hebrew: shamar) the garden. Although he worked the garden, he was banished from it when he quit guarding it against improper use. For a seemingly insignificant transgression, all of history has suffered.

As descendants of Adam, we carry a similar responsibility. We are all caretakers and guardians in this world on multiple levels. First, we are literally the caretakers and guardians of the earth. We must ensure that we are taking proper care of it. How are we using our natural resources? Are we being responsible when it comes to waste and recycling, etc.? But we also have spiritual responsibilities as well.

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