Parashah Noach (Noah)
4 Cheshvan 5779 \ October 13, 2018
By Bob Barrett
This Week’s Readings:
Torah Genesis 6:9-11:3
Haftarah Isaiah 54:1-55:5
Brit Chadashah Revelation 1:4-6
Few stories in the Bible are as popular as Noah’s Ark. There’s Adam and Eve and the Snake, Jonah and the Whale, Daniel in the Lion’s Den, David and Goliath, and the Parting of the Red Sea. And Noah’s Ark is right up there. Children’s books have cute pictures of the big boat and all the animals; there have been movies about it, most recently staring Russel Crow; I even saw a Broadway show called Two by Two, staring Danny Kay. It’s a very well-known story, which is why I’m not going to teach on it. I will point out, however, it states Noah was a righteous man, blameless among his generation, who continuously walked with G-d. If you have a strong desire to be used by G-d, be righteous, blameless and continuously walk with Him.
I will teach about the Tower of Babel. I first came upon the Tower story during my first year of Hebrew school. It confused me because it seemed like a myth. Adam and Eve told us why there are bad things in the world—just like Pandora’s Box—Noah’s Ark told us why there are rainbows, and The Tower of Babel explained why there are so many different languages. It wasn’t until I read it as an adult that I understood its deep meaning.
The Torah Portion tells us ADONAI told the people after the Flood to be fruitful and multiply and to fill the land—to spread out and occupy all of the Earth. But the people were disobedient and decide to build a city, which meant they were planning to stay in one place. (Contrast this to Abram’s obedience to move wherever G-d told him.) The city, built with bricks for stones and tar for mortar was advanced engineering. It was going to be their own kingdom. And this was not going to be just any city, but one with a tower. A tower was going to help protect the city; by it they could see any approaching enemies. This gave them power. And this great city with a tower would give them a name, bring them glory. These people, who knew about the flood and G-d’s justice, wanted a kingdom, power and glory for themselves, brought about by their own ingenuity.
The Haftarah Portion teaches us that ADONAI will call us back from the Diaspora. He has a great love for us, like a husband for his wife. He will build a better kingdom for His people than we can ever do by ourselves. He will build with stones set in antimony, foundations laid with sapphires, pinnacles of rubies, gates of crystal, and walls of precious stones. Sounds like heaven to me. And He will provide our peace, not by our power but by His.
The Brit Chadashah Portion emphasizes “kingdom, power and glory”. Now we usually hear these words connected to the end of the Lord’s Prayer; “for thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.” However, many translations, including our Tree of Life Version, do not include this. There is some controversy among Biblical scholars as to whether or not these words should be included. Personally, I think they should, because they are used in Chapter Eight of The Didache, and that book is the Apostles’ instructions to the Gentile believers in the First Century. In any case, Revelation emphasizes the kingdom, power and glory belongs to G-d.
People have a tendency to skip the middle man—G-d—and build their own kingdoms, giving themselves power and glory. We do this with our jobs, our family, our possessions, our conquests…in many, many ways. But the question we must ask ourselves is, “Is this from me or in spite of me?” Do we gratefully acknowledge all blessings come from our L-RD? Do we depend on Him, or think we can do this by ourselves?