Doves, Hawks and Ravens

Doves, Hawks and Ravens

Oct 4, 2000 By Joshua Heller | Commentary | Noah

At moments like this in the history of the Jewish people, the image of the dove bearing an olive branch resonates in the communal consciousness, even if the peace that it represents seems to flee ever further. I don’t know if ornithological truth bears out the common conception, but in the rabbinic mind, the dove is stereotypically non-aggressive and defensive. Not surprisingly, the Rabbi often compare the Jewish people to the dove, for instance, “Just as the dove is only saved by its wings, so too Israel is only preserved by the mitzvot” (B.T. Brachot 53b).

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In the Shadow of 9/11

In the Shadow of 9/11

Oct 20, 2001 By Matthew Berkowitz | Commentary | Noah

One of the lessons we have derived from the events of our time is that we cannot dwell at ease under the sun of our civilization, that man is the least harmless of all beings. We feel how every minute in our civilization is packed with tension like the interlude between lightning and thunder. Man has not advanced very far from the coast of chaos.

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The Tower of Babel

The Tower of Babel

Oct 12, 2002 By Ismar Schorsch | Commentary | Noah

The last mythological fragment we have in the Torah before we come to the figure of Abraham is the Tower of Babel. With this episode the Torah turns its attention from the universal to the particular, from the history of humanity to the descendants of Shem, No·ah’s firstborn son. As preserved, the story is but nine verses — brief, insignificant and unedifying, not much more than a dismissive satire on Babylon. At best, we try to connect this fragment to the mystery of human language. If we are all progeny of No·ah, how did we come to speak so many different languages?

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The Flood and Creation

The Flood and Creation

Oct 16, 2004 By Ismar Schorsch | Commentary | Noah

Midrashim often draw big ideas from the smallest of linguistic anomalies.

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Genesis and Infertility

Genesis and Infertility

Nov 1, 2003 By Ismar Schorsch | Commentary | Noah

My aunt and uncle never had children. In a very real sense, my sister and I were their surrogate family. We visited them often, stayed with them in the summers and loved them dearly. In Germany, my uncle had been a textile salesman. When they came to America in 1937, he decided to work with dogs, his lifelong passion, rather than fabrics. Eventually, they acquired a kennel for dogs out in Yaphank, Long Island, and quickly endowed it with renown by dint of hard work. They boarded, bred and even showed dogs. 

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God’s Evolution

God’s Evolution

Nov 5, 2005 By Marc Wolf | Commentary | Noah

Our sacred canon serves as the touchstone for tradition.

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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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Why Noah?

Why Noah?

Oct 28, 2006 By Sharon Keller | Commentary | Noah

When we think of Parashat Noah, we envision a story that everyone is familiar with from early childhood. In our mind’s eye we can see the ark with its tiered decks and Noah swathed in a white robe, looking out the window as a dove flies off toward a rainbow in the background. If that image is not familiar, a trip to any local bookstore (especially one with a children’s section) will provide a variety of options. Noah figures prominently in our mental version of the story, as he does in Genesis, but is the text focusing on him and his actions, or is the Bible emphasizing something else?

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