Noah’s Ark and the Tower of Babel, Telephone Torah Study
We study the great flood, the Rainbow Covenant and the Tower of Babel in parashah, Noach (6:9-11:22), this Thursday, October 3rd, 4-5pm.
To join in on the conference call, please dial 702-851-4044, when prompted punch in 2, then our pass code 22252#.
Selected Verses of the Week.
1. This is Noah’s chronicle. Noah was a righteous man; in his generation, he was above reproach; Noah walked with God. (Gen. 6:9)
2. “When the bow is in the cloud, and I see it, I will remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living beings, all that live upon the earth.” (Gen. 9:16)
3. That is why it was called Babel, because there Adonai confused the speech of all the earth; and from there Adonai scattered them over the face of the earth. (Gen. 11:9)
‘Apres le Deluge: Moi’ (don’t worry it’s in English) a Torah Queery by BCC member Michael Sarid:
Imagine that you are alone in the world. A monumental calamity has destroyed life as you knew it. Your friends and community? Gone. Your home and possessions? Gone. Your frames of reference, your very identity? Gone or, at least, forever transformed.
How do you go on? How do you reconstruct a life for yourself? Is there no one to help or guide you? To comfort you when your nightmares of the devastation become unbearable? Why did you survive when so many others perished? Your sense of loss is so overwhelming that you feel paralyzed. You may even feel, perhaps subconsciously, responsible for the destruction.
While the Torah provides scant evidence of the emotional lives of most of its characters, I
imagine that Noah must have experienced these feelings after the Great Flood, which wiped out the world as Noah knew it. We can allow ourselves to relate to Noah’s experience, as devastating loss is of course a continuing reality in our world. My thoughts naturally turn to my father, one of the few members of his extended family to survive the Nazi death camps; like many Holocaust survivors, he still bears the scars of his losses 61 years later. I think of myself and my own urban LGBT community during the early years of the AIDS crisis, a time when suffering, death and loss seemed absolute and unrelenting. And I think of my friends who have lived with AIDS and other life-threatening illnesses, and their succession of harsh losses: daily routines, bodily functions, hopes for the future.
How did Noah’s enormous personal losses affect his life after the flood? The Torah tells a brief but strange tale (Gen. 9:20-26) that has challenged commentators for centuries, but which I feel can only be properly understood from the perspective of a man who has lost everything. After the waters recede, God creates a rainbow as a symbolic promise to humanity and all of creation never to destroy it again. Noah beholds this hopeful, beautiful sight, but does he draw reassurance or inspiration from it? No; to the contrary, he responds by cultivating the world’s first vineyard, drinking the world’s first wine, and, upon drinking himself into oblivion, becoming the world’s first substance abuser.
‘The Power of Language: How Noah and the Tower of Babel both Revolve around the Use and Misuse of Language’ by Jewish feminist and HUC Faculty member Carol Ochs from The Torah: A Women’s Commentary.
Genesis Begins with God’s creation of the world by word alone: God said, “Let there be light!” (1:3). At the end of Genesis 1, God surveyed all that [God] had made, and look-it was very good! With language God created the world, separated the waters above from the waters below, named, judged, and expressed great satisfaction with the results. But by the end of parashat B’reishit; we read thatAdonai saw how great was the wickedness of human beings . . . So Adonai thought: ‘I will wipe the humans whom I created from off the face of the earth” (6:5-7).
In parashat Noah, what sin had the people committed to warrant the Flood? The fact that so many different answers have been offered suggests that there is no clear answer. Some interpreters say that the wrongdoing was miscegenation: the interbreeding between the sons of God and the daughters of mankind (6:1-4). Others in traditional sources postulate that it was the sin of refusing to have children–indeed, even Noah waited until he was 500 years old to have his first child.