Have you noticed that DKJA has a new outdoor art installation? The Genesis Bridge Nature Preserve at the boardwalk was designed to be an inviting space in which everyone—from our students, faculty and visitors to our school—can engage comfortably with art as they enter our campus from the rear parking area. The exhibits tell the story of the seven days of creation and the story of Adam and Eve.
What Do the Seven Days of Creation Teach us about Leadership?
Exhibit 1. In the beginning there was no earth or sky or sea or life. And then G-d spoke in the darkness: "Let there be light!" And right away there was light, scattering the darkness and showing the infinite space. "That's good!" said G-d. "From now on, when it's dark it will be 'night' and when it's light; it will be 'day'." The evening came and the night passed and then the light returned. That was the first day.
We are proactive when we create our own world following the example of G-d who was being proactive when he created the world from nothingness. Our actions and our words create our world. Our thoughts lead to speech which in turn leads to action. Taking action makes everything possible.
Exhibit 2. On the second day, G-d made the earth and over it he carefully hung a vast blue sky and water. He separated the upper waters from the lower waters. He stood back and admired His creation. That ended the second day.
Begin With the End in Mind
Water is essential to life and helps things grow like the Torah nourishes us spiritually and helps us grow. G-d began with the end in mind, knowing that he would need the water to feed the plants and trees on the third day.
Exhibit 3. On the third day G-d began to put first things first by prioritizing, and organizing the earth so that plants and trees could grow and create an inhabitable environment for human beings. G-d put all the dry land in one place and all the water in another. G-d called the dry land Earth, and the gathering of waters He called seas. All sorts of trees, flowers and seed bearing plants began to grow and G-d saw that this was good. That was the end of the third day.
Put First Things First
We should spend our time on things that are most important first. Say no to things you know you should not do. Set priorities, make a schedule, and follow your plan. Be disciplined and organized.
Exhibit 4. On the fourth day, G-d looked around and thought, "The daylight still needs more light and the night is just too dark." So, He made the sun to light the sky during the day and the moon and stars to add a sparkle to the night. He hung them in the sky and stepped back to look at his work. "This is coming along very well," thought G-d.
G-d created two great lights, the sun and the moon. The moon said "We could not be equal. You should only have one king." So G-d chose the greater light to dominate the day and the lesser light to dominate the night. The moon said to the sun:" I will reflect your light and illuminate the earth at night. That is a win-win for the earth." When we help others shine, their light reflects on us and we all shine brighter.
Exhibit 5. The fifth day, G-d turned his attention to the water he had collected in the oceans. "I want these waters teeming with life!" As soon as He said it, it was so. In no time, there were millions of small fish darting through the shallow water and huge fish swimming in the ocean. G-d made birds, too. He sent them soaring through the air. "This is good" said G-d. The dusk fell over the water and the sky grew dark and that was the end of the fifth day.
Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood
There is a great variety of fish and birds on earth just as there are many different types of people from different races and religions. It is important for us to see the connections that we have with nature and other peoples. We are interdependent with everything that lives on earth. Recognition of this relationship between ourselves, nature, and others shows us how our everyday actions impact Earth and its inhabitants. We need to understand the needs of our earth before we express our own individual needs.
Exhibit 6. On the sixth day, G-d added creatures to the land. He made lions and tigers and bears. He made rabbits and sheep and cows. He added everything from ants to zebras to the land. But He still felt something was missing. So G-d added man and woman to enjoy and take care of all that He had created. G-d blessed them and said to them, “Be fertile and increase, fill the earth and master it; and rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, and all the living things that creep on earth.”
Synergy is about collaboration and cooperation. G-d realized it is not good for one man to be alone. G-d created woman from the man so that he would not be alone. Marriage is a connection that says you are not alone in this world. People together make communities. When we co-operate and pool our resources together, we are able to accomplish great things. G-d has entrusted us to work together for the good of all living things on earth.
Exhibit 7. By the seventh day, the whole universe was completed. On the seventh day, G-d had a nice long rest and enjoyed looking at all He had made. And G-d blessed the seventh day and declared it holy, because on it, G-d ceased from all the work of creation which He had done.
Sharpen the Saw
Shabbat, the seventh day, creates a harmonious, peaceful home and meaningful time spent with family. It is a day of rest that brings meaning to our lives and fortifies us with the strength, purpose and courage to take on the world while retaining our inner peace. As Jewish people, we "sharpen the saw" by taking time for our spiritual needs.
Exhibit 8. When G-d had rested for a while, he got down to making the most beautiful garden. He called it the Garden of Eden. It had wonderful trees and flowers. It even had lots of birds and animals in it.
G-d put the man he had made into the garden. The man rubbed his eyes and looked all around. G-d said to him: “Now listen, Adam, you can eat the fruit, climb the trees, paddle in the rivers and jump over the bushes, but there’s one thing you must never do. You must never eat the apples from the big tree in the middle of the garden, because that tree tells you what is good and what is bad.”
Adam replied: “What’s bad?”
“Never mind,” said G-d, “you go and have a nice time, and forget about that tree.”
G-d noticed that Adam was feeling lonely. G-d thought: “He hasn’t got any friends, no one to talk to. He will become unhappy soon.”
So one night, when Adam was asleep, G-d made a woman to be a wife for him. He called her Eve.
Adam and Eve were very happy together. They used to play with the animals, and eat lots of fruit from all the trees. Except for one – the forbidden tree.
One day they decided to walk to the middle of the garden, and there was the most beautiful apple hanging from this special tree.
There was also a big nasty snake in the tree, who said: “Hey, why don’t you two eat that apple, it’s the nicest, biggest, juiciest apple I ever saw.” Adam looked worried. “We’re not allowed to, G-d said so.”
“Oh, don’t worry about that,” said the horrible snake. “Have a bite, go on.”
Adam looked at Eve, and Eve looked at Adam. The apple looked lovely.
Eve tasted the apple. “Go on, try it,” she said. Adam had a bite. Suddenly, Adam and Eve heard G-d’s voice in the Garden, and they were afraid. They hid behind the trees and bushes.
Adam and Eve ran to hide.
G-d was very angry when he found them. “You have eaten the fruit, haven’t you?” he demanded. Adam said they had, but explained that the snake said it would be alright.
G-d told the snake, “Because you have done this, cursed are you from among all creatures, and from among all beasts of the field; on your belly you shall walk, and you shall eat dust all the days of your life.” G-d told Adam and Eve that now they would know everything about good and bad. He turned them out of the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve now had to work; they had to plow the soil in order to get food for themselves.