In the beginning, the burning question that has haunted humans through the generations.

Where do we come from? What is our place in existence? We have good reasons for believing that In the light of our current understanding, we are part of an expanding universe populated by subatomic particles, aggregated into diverse materials, influenced by fundamental forces, capable of giving rise to complex life at least once. Plus, rather a lot that we can't yet adequately account for.

Our ancestors also grappled with the big questions in the light of their understanding, in their time, glimpsing the possibility of an indivisible, all encompassing, guiding and sustaining truth. In Bereishit, we gain a glimpse of their insights into the nature of the eternal, creative, genesis of our existence.

In the beginning, God first created Hashamayim, heaven, out there, not here. And then Haaretz, here. Our ancestors grasped that to create place, matter must be gathered together. El-makom echad v'tayra'eh hayabasha. Out of formless chaos, hayta tohoo vavohoo and delineated, yikavu.

It is currently accepted that planets began as dust grains in orbit around their central protostar being drawn together by a process of accretion. Our ancestors perceived that as well as matter, there is another fundamental principle, light. In the beginning, darkness was across the face of the depths, v'hoshech al-pnei tahom, until God created light. In distinction to darkness. v'yavdil elohim bayn ha'or oovayn hahoshech. Through the phenomena of light, we experience beyn hayom oovayn halalya, day and night. v'hayoo l'otot oolmoadim oolyamim vshanim, markers of the sacred seasons, the passage of days and years, the immutable laws of time. Our kinsmen Albert Einstein has added to our appreciation of time considerably.

A third essential element was recognised by the writers of our Torah, water, not just static pools of water as in the sea, oolmikvei hamyim kara yamim, but a dynamic cycle bayn hamayim asher mitachat larakiya oovayn hamayim asher mayal larakiah. The water held in the air, and the water stored upon and within the land. One would expect them to have an intimate interest and knowledge of water. That they place it before any mention of life as a prerequisite to life is perhaps not surprising  either Palaeontology, biochemistry, and evolutionary genetics support this idea that water is essential to life.

Of course, the writers of our Torah had no idea about DNA and evolutionary genetics. We've come such a long way. However, they certainly did recognise that life is divided into a great diversity of forms, nefesh haya lemina, every type of living creature which reproduce each consistent to their own type, puru oorboo, multiplying from generation to generation, by seed that breeds true, asher bo pri aitz zoroo, bearing fruits of all kinds with good seed. If we accept that our Torah is a human attempt to communicate a past generations vision of eternal truths, within the limits of their understanding, what more could we add now?

What new insights from our generations experiences could we add to beresheets depiction of the scope of the Divine work of creation? Might we add to the notion that we have the option to leave our garden paradise and set off into the , the cosmic darkness, in some self sustaining capsule, to terraform a new planet? Just in case we exhaust our resources here, or destabilise our ecosystems beyond repair.

Our ancestors had no idea of the challenges we face now. Perhaps they didn't have words or notions for epochs, stasis, exponentially accelerating change, historical perspective. Or perhaps the underlying concepts were too commonplace to warrant documenting as deep wisdom. To nomadic herdsmen, it was maybe rather obvious that without enough grass, your livestock would die, and your tribe would starve. There was nowhere else to go. And here was sufficient. As long as . As long as they were effective rulers over the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, and every living thing that creeps upon the earth, then what the eternal had given them would be sufficient to sustain them.

Wisdom and insight are available for each individual and generation to discover in the light of their own understanding. Sometimes, there are means to share this learning with others, even informing future generations. Often each grapples afresh for those same glimpses of the universal, the indivisible, the all encompassing, guiding and sustaining truths.

In my own family, there was once a store of Jewish learning and knowledge. Rabbi Malwin Warshauer, my great grandfather, I imagine must have been a widely read scholarly man. I imagine he wrote sermons, perhaps essays and articles, but I've never seen them, I wouldn't be able to read them anyway, written in his native German. My father, as with so many of his generation, became dislocated from his inheritance of Jewish learning and knowledge. He lived resolutely in his bubble of the here and now never looking back or speaking of the past, frozen in a four year olds incomprehension of the point of being Jewish in a fractured fickle world.

It has taken me a lifetime to even formulate the questions, way too late to ask them of those who maybe had some part of the answers. I, we, each generation, turn again, back to the beginning, to re-examine what is our place in existence? Where do we come from, in the light of our own understanding, and the wisdom of our ancestors.

This Simchat Torah through the honour of being asked by my community to read bereshit, I have been enabled to cast a thread back to my great grandfather. As I have studied, reflected and layned, a little, in the yekkish trope he probably used I think of him and all the generations back to Avraham and beyond and their wisdom and insights. Without my Sinai family, I could not have honoured my own family's lived experience or began to understand myself, my task, opportunities place, potential and limitations.

Toda Raba

L'chag sameach v'shabbat Shalom.