Would You Open the Ark?
I thought I should let you know that I am planning to destroy the world soon. I'm sure it is no surprise to you, as it is quite clear how corrupt your species is (except for you of course. You are OK in my book). I've overlooked their idol worship and flagrant adultery, but this constant stealing from each other is just the last straw.
Anyway, it's going to be a flood, so make yourself a sea-worthy boat. Very sea-worthy, with no holes except for one window very high up, and a door. Shut yourself and your family up in it, and don't come out until I tell you to. In fact, don't even look out the window.
Elokim (The Master of the Universe)
PS: It may be a while, so bring trail-mix.
PPS: You might want to think about calling a little more often.
Your Parsha Navigator
What would your gut reaction be to the above communication from God?
Read the following passage from this week's Torah Portion. What is Noach's reaction to God's message?
Noach was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noach walked with God. The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence. And God said to Noach, The end of all flesh has come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth.
Make an ark of gopher wood. Rooms shall you make in the ark, and you shall pitch it inside and outside with pitch. And this is the fashion by which you shall make it. A window shall you make in the ark and the door of the ark shall you set in its side. With lower, second, and third stories shall you make it.
And, behold, I, myself, bring a flood of waters upon the earth, to destroy all flesh, where there is the breath of life, from under heaven; and every thing that is in the earth shall die.
But with you will I establish my covenant; and you shall come into the ark, you, and your sons, and your wife, and your sons' wives with you. Thus Noach did, according to all that God commanded him, so did he.
Your Midrash Navigator
The following is a Midrash, commentary by the rabbis of the Mishna (first century) on the Torah's statement that Noach was righteous "in his generation."
"In his generation"
Rabbi Judah and Rabbi Nehemiah argued. Rabbi Judah said, "Only in his generation was he a righteous man [by comparison]; but had he lived in the generation of Moses he would not have been called righteous. In the street of the totally blind, the one-eyed man is called clear-sighted."
Rabbi Nehemiah said, "If he was righteous even in his generation, how much more so [had he lived] in the age of Moses. He might be compared to a tightly closed vial of perfume lying in a graveyard, which nevertheless gave forth a fragrant odor. How much more then if it were outside the graveyard! "
Which rabbi's opinion do you agree with?
1. Is it a greater challenge to be righteous when others around you are also or when those around you are corrupt?
2. Is it the same for each of us?
3. Should righteousness be relative or absolute?
4. What would you have done in Noach's situation?
Three related points to think about:
1. Rabbi Israel Ba'al Shem Tov, 18th century founder of the Hasidic movement, reads the whole ark building as a metaphor of instruction in how to pray!
2. The word Noach in Hebrew means to rest, to be stagnant, or to die.
3. Abraham (a tent) and Noach (an ark) are both known for the very different structures they lived in.
Prepared by Rabbi Hyim Shafner, Campus Rabbi, St. Louis Hillel at Washington University