Rabbi Eisen’s Shabbat Shalom Message

Shabbat Shalom!

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Candlelighting for
Friday, October 20, 2017 • 5:26pm

• Our Portion for the Week

NOAH – GENESIS 6:9 – 11:32
In this portion, we read of the destruction of the world by the great flood and the re-creation of the world. By the tenth generation after Adam, human evil has sunk to such depths that God can no longer tolerate it, and the world must be purged of its corruption. Noah and his family alone, of all mankind, are saved along with seven pairs (male & female) of all clean animals and one pair of all unclean animals found on earth. The description of the flood is in many respects a reversal of the process of creation. When the waters subside and the occupants of the ark emerge on dry land, the narrative largely parallels the creation story. Noah is portrayed as the second Adam, but the world after the flood is a significantly different place. Although Noah's sons become the progenitors of a world full of people, the complete harmony of all creation is gone. This change is symbolized by the permission given to mankind to eat meat, albeit with the prohibition of eating the blood. God establishes the rainbow as the sign of His promise that the earth will never again be destroyed by flood. The account of the Tower of Babel shows how that unity is shattered by mankind's pride. God's plan is again thwarted, but this time He responds by narrowing His focus to one segment of mankind that will be the instruments of achieving His purpose. The reading concludes with an account of the line of Noah's son, Shem, which brings us – after ten generations – to Abraham and the birth of the Jewish People.

• Our Question for the Week •

1) The Torah tells us that Noah was 'a righteous man in his generation' (6:9). Was he righteous in his own right or did he only seem righteous in comparison to the people of his time? What difficulties do you think that Noah faced because of his behavior? Why?

2) God told Noah to build an ark. Who would be saved in the ark (6:17-7:3)?  What might be the logic behind this?

3) Why do you think that God had Noah work hard and build the ark rather than create it miraculously for him?

4) Following the flood, God makes a covenant with the living things on Earth (9:8-17). What is the covenant and what is its symbol? Why do you think that this was chosen as a symbol for this covenant?

5) When Noah finally emerges from the ark he plants a vineyard. Why do you think that he did so? (Did it have a connection to his experience in the ark? To his life before the flood? To what had happened to the Earth – both plants and living creatures?  What might wine symbolize?)