Who Do You Think You Are?

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?!”

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Looking Beyond Our Arks

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. 

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Feeling the Flood

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.

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Basic Questions

Basic Questions

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.

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Lessons of Survival

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.

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Seeing the Faces of Noah’s Neighbors

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.”

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Building a Boat and a Tower

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. 

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The Dove

The Dove

Oct 16, 2015 By Daniel Heschel Silberbusch | Commentary | Noah

This is part of a larger painting/collage that in turn is part of a children’s book I am making inspired by “Had Gadya,” the song we sing at the Pesah Seder’s conclusion. The piece this paper cut-out comes from interprets the song’s final verse “And God came and killed the angel of death.” The verse presents an obvious challenge to a Jewish artist reluctant to “portraitize” God. It also echoes this week’s parashah: God steps in after destruction and promises an end to such destruction (Gen. 8:10-22). Perhaps for this reason I gravitated toward recycling this image.

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Before the Deluge

Before the Deluge

Oct 16, 2015 By Marc Gary | Commentary | Noah

Parashat Noah raises difficult questions about the relationships between the natural world, humanity’s morality, and God’s justice.

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Species Purity and the Great Flood

Species Purity and the Great Flood

Oct 24, 2014 By Daniel Nevins | Commentary | Noah

Omnicide is a dramatic move, on that we can all agree. But what causes the Creator to grow violently disgusted with the creatures that had just recently been praised as “good” and blessed with fertility?

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And Now, You Pray?

And Now, You Pray?

Oct 21, 2014 By Michael R. Boino | Commentary | Noah

“And Now, You Pray?” explores both human and Divine responsibility in Parashat Noah. The piece utilizes several sources that explore voices of protest or requests for help, both those which are voiced as well as those suppressed or ignored.

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Why Did God Flood the World?

Why Did God Flood the World?

Oct 1, 2013 By Alan Cooper | Commentary | Noah

The end of Parashat Bereishit finds God regretting the creation of humankind and resolving to wipe it out along with “beasts, creeping things, and birds of the sky” (Gen. 6:7). A note of optimism creeps into the concluding verse (6:8), however, with the statement that Noah, whose birth and naming were noted in 5:29, “found favor” with God.

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The Noah of Genesis and the Noah of the Rabbis

The Noah of Genesis and the Noah of the Rabbis

Oct 1, 2013 By Matthew Berkowitz | Commentary | Noah

Parashat Noah, the Torah reading for this coming Shabbat, is renowned for the annual debate on Noah’s character that is sparked by the opening verse.

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Daydreaming Out the Window

Daydreaming Out the Window

Oct 17, 2012 By Abigail Treu | Commentary | Noah

The ark’s window bothered the Rabbis. It is a technical problem: in Genesis 8:6, Noah “opened the window (chalon) of the ark that he had made,” but in the very thorough account of the construction of the ark earlier in the parashah, no window was ever made. “What window?” the Rabbis wonder. 

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A Tiny Point of Hope

A Tiny Point of Hope

Oct 17, 2012 By Matthew Berkowitz | Commentary | Noah

Unrelenting human wickedness leads to the collapse of humanity and the world.

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Small Crimes, Big Punishment

Small Crimes, Big Punishment

Oct 29, 2011 By Charlie Schwartz | Commentary | Text Study | Noah

This week’s midrash has a rather shocking answer to the question of why the world deserved to be wiped out in the days of Noah.

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A Sabbath Song for Parashat Noah

A Sabbath Song for Parashat Noah

Oct 29, 2011 By Judith Hauptman | Commentary | Noah

It is a lovely Jewish practice to sing songs at the Shabbat table. The little booklets that contain grace also provide the words of many zemirot, Sabbath songs. If we look at two of the more popular ones, Yah Ribbon and Mah Yedidot Menuhatekh, we find that their common theme is a plea to observe the Sabbath in the present, and a hope for a future in which God redeems the People Israel. But there is one song that differs from all the rest. It makes reference to this week’s Parashat No·ah. The name of the song is “The Dove Found a Place to Rest on the Sabbath (Yonah Maz’ah Bo Manoah).”

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Light in the Window

Light in the Window

Oct 9, 2010 By Andrew Shugerman | Commentary | Text Study | Noah

How is prayer like a window or a gem? One early modern response to the midrash above answers that question with devotional creativity.

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A Lesson From Sarajevo

A Lesson From Sarajevo

Oct 9, 2010 By Burton L. Visotzky | Commentary | Noah

It was raining when we visited Mostar, a city enshrined in memory by Christiane Amanpour reporting for CNN while standing in front of the ruins of the historic bridge that had united the city before the war devastated Yugoslavia. In 1993, that bridge was destroyed by shelling after standing for 427 years. On one side lived Christians, and on the other, Muslims. Before the war, Christians and Muslims freely crossed the bridge. They did business together, rejoiced together, married one another. Families had extensive ties on both sides of the Neretva River (see photo below). As the Bible might say, they shared “the same language and the same words.”

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Noah’s Repetition and Contradiction

Noah’s Repetition and Contradiction

Oct 24, 2009 By David C. Kraemer | Commentary | Noah

Read the Noah story—the whole thing, from the very end of Genesis 5 and not just from the beginning of the parashah—and you will immediately sense that there is a problem. Why are there so many repetitions, tensions, and outright contradictions? Why are we told twice about Noah’s offspring (5:32 and 6:10)? Why does the story offer two explanations for God’s decision to destroy all creatures, removing them from the face of the earth—one explanation relating to the transgression of the divine/human divide and the wickedness of the human heart (6:1-7), and the other relating to human violence (6:11-12)?

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