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Noach – A thought for the week by Mike Lewis

Noah was a righteous man he was perfect in his generations; Noah walked with God

On the surface, the opening words of the Sedra this week seem unambiguous, but they raise a number of questions.

God is obviously dissatisfied with the way that mankind was developing but he chooses a man who, in Hassidic literature, is described as a “man in a fur coat” rather than one who lights a fire for the people around him. Noach ignores the people around him who are to die. Almost 4000 years later Hillel would teach:

If I am not for me, who will be for me? And when I am for myself alone, what am I? And if not now, when?”

As for the Tower of Babel, what harm could come from a building? Surely everyone speaking the same language was a good thing because we would understand one another. The problem was that mankind was still an unfinished product.

Speaking with one tongue carries a risk. As we look around us today the voice of the mob, all repeating the same thing, gives no space to any dissenting opinions.

The tower was being built to:

let us make ourselves a name
וְנַֽעֲשֶׂה־לָּ֖נוּ שֵׁ֑ם

They wished to become Gods.

But in the familiar words of psalm 115:

הַשָּׁמַיִם שָׁ֖מַיִם לַֽיהֹוָ֑ה וְ֜הָאָ֗רֶץ נָתַ֥ן לִבְנֵי־אָדָֽם:
The heavens are heavens of the Lord, but the earth He gave to the children of men.

God is faced with a dilemma. There is a covenant, via the rainbow, not to destroy the earth again but what should be the next step? The answer lies in the end of the Sedra.

And Terah took Abram his son and Sarai ……the wife of Abram ……… to go to the land of Canaan

The life of Abram becomes our “beginning”, our “Bereishit”. We were to have a relationship with God not just in heaven but also with the land below. We were going to be asked to become a light unto the nations. It has not been an easy journey. The challenges remain; but it is and has been our privilege.

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