Noach (Genesis 6:9 – 11:32)

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GOOD MORNING!! I’ve said this before but it’s apropos at this time of year. It’s hard to decide which beauty is greater – that of the spring blossoms or the autumn leaves. In their own way each is equally stunning. However, they are opposite in nature. Blossoms are life – a reawakening of potential energy. Whereas the autumn leaves are death – that which was vibrant dies and decomposes. And yet each has its own beauty. So too, in my mind, with human beings. Whilst birth is beautiful – a springing to life of incredible spiritual potential. Death, however, is equally beautiful in its own way – a fulfilment of that potential and a return to source where the soul is able to experience its fullest and deepest connection to God. 

Next week, as part of Shabbat UK, we are hosting a lunch on Saturday for young couples (not necessarily married) along with a learning programme afterwards. If you are interested, please follow this link for more information. LINK

Torah Portion

Noah is a very decent man – the exception rather than the rule in his generation. Those around him worship idols, murder and are experts in sexual immorality. Not vastly different to the world we live in. 

God decides to take action and it rains…. and rains….. and rains……and rains. Think England, but it was much worse. The world fills with water and everyone drowns – except for Noah, his family and loads of animals who were on his famous Ark.

Noah leaves the Ark and immediately plants a vineyard – preferring the escape of wine to the challenging task of rebuilding humanity. 

The world is repopulated via Noah’s sons and once again, they slip into immorality and build a tower in a place called Babel in order to ‘fight’ with God. This time he mixes up their languages and creates 70 nations and the diversity of the human race is set in place for all time.

Davar Torah

The Torah says, at the time of the flood, that the world became a hotbed of sexual immorality and theft was commonplace. At first, these seem to be two separate issues. However, the Rabbis explain that one leads to the other and I’d like to talk about how that process works. 

There are two possible motivations for a sexual act. It can be an act of giving within a meaningful relationship – an expression of intimacy, love and deep oneness. Or it can be an act of self-gratification and satisfaction – a means of using another human being to indulge personal pleasure.

We might say that if two consenting adults want to use each other for their personal desires, what’s the problem with that? The Torah believes that there is. 

In last week’s portion, the Torah introduced to us an idea that absolutely at the core of a society’s beliefs if that society is to be a moral one; that human beings are created in God’s image. We are not simply sophisticated animals. We are holy beings. We are souls, Godly souls. Seeing others in this way gives us a sense of respect for their individual value, their dignity and their right to life and property. If human beings are just animals, then we live in a dog eat dog world of ‘survival of the fittest’. But if human beings are souls, we have responsibilities to each other.

No one would use another soul for his own gratification – even if it was consensual. 

In a promiscuous society, people will start to look at each other as objects. Other human beings become a means through which to pursue personal satisfaction. That must reduce our sense of respect for each other in general. The more I see a person as a means to my own pleasure, the more the lines will blur as to what I am allowed to do to gain that pleasure from others. The gap between using another human being with their consent and using them without is very bridgeable. During the generation of the flood, that gap narrowed and ultimately disappeared. People lost respect for each other such that theft was no longer a moral issue. 

A promiscuous society might not hurt anyone in particular, but it will undermine the bedrock of our values. I believe it’s no accident that our sexual revolution has coincided with a loss of respect for parents, for family and for others in general. Human beings are a composite of a Godly soul in an animal’s body. The more we see each other as animals, the less Godly we become. And if you let the tiger out of his cage at night, there is no guarantee that you will show him back in when morning comes. 

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