Shabbat Parashat Noach It’s Complicated!

Dear Friends,

How often have you been tempted to answer a question by saying: “It’s complicated!”? I know that, many times, I have begun my responses to questions with those very words…

The essential nature of our weekly Torah portion is: “It’s complicated!”. I love this Parsha because, taken as a whole, it is a reflection of our reality.

Our world is complicated. Our lives are complicated. Our thoughts and feelings are complicated. Our congregational and communal lives are complicated! And, the beauty of Torah is that it reflects our reality back to us. This reflection of reality is especially powerful when we read the story of our Parsha – a story that includes the story of the flood, the story of the Tower of Babel, and the geneology that leads us from the generation of Noah to the generation of Abraham.

How so?

Adam and Eve lived in a relatively simple environment. There were very few people around and very few rules to follow…Still they managed to get into trouble and get evicted from the Garden of Eden. They experienced violence in their family and they had to start their lives over more than once – in a new physical location and with new spiritual perspectives as their lives evolved.

But in our Parsha we realize that Noach lived in a much more complicated world. More people. More violence. More rules. More divine directives…

And God appears to be “inconsistent” in Noah’s lifetime. First God decided to destroy the world. Then God decided to give Noach and his family a way to survive and promised him that he would not experience a flood ever again. God sealed that promise with the appearance of a rainbow in the sky.

But, God didn’t promise not to interfere with the world… So, in the story of the Tower of Babel, got took it upon God’s self to dispel the people who had, until that time, been concentrated in one place and who spoke one language and who were all content to be building a huge tower. God dispelled them throughout the world and had them speak different languages. And so, the diversity that at first exhibited itself only among individuals, became amplified by an additional layer of diversity – diversity among entire groups of people and among nations. This left us all with a much more complicated human landscape than even Noach had experienced in his lifetime!

The result is that we live in a super complicated world, as is reflected in our Parsha.

Yet, we also live with the unending promise of the rainbow and with the hope that we can learn to cope with all the complexity of life.

And, above all, we are blessed with the gift of the Torah that helps us to understand our world and with the gift of the 613 mitzvoth that help us to navigate our way through the complexities of our lives. We are given a vision and a purpose: to make this world a better place; to work toward greater understanding, greater respect for diversity, greater sharing and toward a world of lasting peace.

Yes, it’s complicated, but it’s also very beautiful!

Shabbat Shalom!

Rabbi Gilah Dror