After the Flood
Oct 28, 2022 By Alisa Braun | Commentary | Noah
Today it’s common to find divrei torah that use Parashat Noah to raise awareness about our impact on the environment. Yet I recently discovered a voice from the first stirrings of modernity that seemed to already intuit, within a theological framework, the devastating impact of humans on the global environment. For Obadiah Sforno (1475–1550), the “lawlessness” during the days of Noah did not just cause God to flood to earth. It was a force capable of ruining the climate and planet, and thereby shaping the course of human history ever after.Read More
Who Do You Think You Are?
Oct 8, 2021 By Kendell Pinkney | Commentary | Noah
When I received the results, I can’t say I was all that surprised:
67% Sub-Saharan African, 30% Northwest European, 2% Indigenous American, 1% unaccounted for.
I already knew that my ethnic heritage was decently mixed up. I had spent enough years peppering my grandmothers with the kinds of questions only a child feels comfortable pursuing: “Where was your mother from? Where was your father from? Belize?! Which city? Dangriga? Sounds weird. Never heard of it. Wait, grandma, your grandmother was a white woman from Louisiana?!”Read More
Looking Beyond Our Arks
Oct 23, 2020 By Yitz Landes | Commentary | Noah
It has never been easier to identify with Noah.
In a normal year, we would be reading this week’s parashah in an entirely different setting: after a summer of sun, camp, and trips, and following the long holiday season, we would be entering our homes and settling into the fall, saying goodbye to the physical togetherness that defines the summer and the holiday season, just as the day gets shorter and the month of Marheshvan commences.Read More
Feeling the Flood
Nov 1, 2019 By Mary Brett Koplen | Commentary | Noah
As the curtains close on Parashat Bereshit, we find God steeped in sadness.
וַיִּנָּ֣חֶם ה’ כִּֽי-עָשָׂ֥ה אֶת-הָֽאָדָ֖ם בָּאָ֑רֶץ וַיִּתְעַצֵּ֖ב אֶל-לִבּֽו:
“And Adonai regretted that God had made humanity on earth and God’s heart was grieved.” (Gen. 6:6)
God is heartbroken. The people whom God formed with such care, the people into whom God exhaled God’s own divine spark, the people God loved—had chosen a path of corruption and crime.Read More
Oct 12, 2018 By Shira D. Epstein | Commentary | Noah
Early in my teaching career I worked with kindergarteners, incorporating drama into daily Judaics lessons. The holiday cycle offered developmentally appropriate treasure troves of life lessons: practicing ways to say “I’m sorry” to loved ones during Tishrei; exploring Esther’s mustering of courage to speak the truth; hesitations of the Israelites to part from predictable routines in the known and familiar Egypt to try something brand-new and strange.Read More
Lessons of Survival
Oct 20, 2017 By Melanie Levav | Commentary | Noah
וַיְהִי הַגֶּשֶׁם עַל-הָאָרֶץ אַרְבָּעִים יוֹם וְאַרְבָּעִים לָיְלָה:
The rain fell on the land for forty days and forty nights. (Gen. 7:12)
One need not look hard these days to read of the devastation brought by floods. In recent weeks, powerful hurricanes have caused destruction beyond belief, completely flooding parts of Texas, Florida, the Caribbean, and the entirety of Puerto Rico. Beyond the devastation of land and property, such storms leave a lasting impact on the people who survive the experience. How we respond to such disasters can make a difference in how we continue to live.Read More
Seeing the Faces of Noah’s Neighbors
Nov 4, 2016 By Anne Lapidus Lerner | Commentary | Noah
I am a farmer, I love my wife,
My sons are many and strong, my land is green.
—from “Flood” by Irving Feldman (Collected Poems 1954-2004)
With these words, the narrator of Feldman’s poem characterizes himself as a hardworking family man—not perfect, but not a sinner. Of Noah he says, “Just like the drunk, the fool, that slut- / Chaser to think of no one else.”Read More
Building a Boat and a Tower
Nov 4, 2016 By Daniel Nevins | Commentary | Noah
Does it feel lately that the fate of the world is at stake? If so, the Torah seems intent to validate and deepen our concern. Here we are just days before one of the most disconcerting elections in American history, and we have also arrived at Parashat Noah, the original dystopian tale.Read More