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Noach ~ 5773 ~ נח
G-d instructs Noach, the only righteous man in a world consumed by violence and corruption, to build a large wooden teivah (“ark”), coated inside and outside with tar. A great deluge will wipe out all life from the face of the earth but the ark will float upon the water. The ark will shelter Noach, his family, as well as a male and female of each animal species.
Rain falls for 40 days and nights and the waters churn for 150 days more before beginning to recede. The ark settles on Mount Ararat. Noach dispatches a raven from the window, and then consecutive doves, “to see if the waters were abated from the face of the earth.” When the ground dries completely, one solar year (365 days) after the onset of the Flood, G-d commands Noach to exit the ark and repopulate the Earth.
Noach builds an altar and offers sacrifices to G-d. G-d swears never again to destroy all of mankind and sets the rainbow as a testimony of His new covenant with man. G-d also commands Noach on the sacredness of life: murder is deemed a capital offense, and while man is permitted to eat the meat of animals, he is forbidden to eat flesh or blood taken from a living animal.
Noach plants a vineyard and becomes drunk. Two of Noach’s sons, Shem and Yapeth, are blessed for covering up their father’s nakedness, while his third son, Ham, is cursed for taking advantage of his debasement.
The descendants of Noach remain a single people, with a single language and culture, for ten generations. They defy the Creator by building a great tower to symbolize their own invincibility. G-d confuses their language so “one does not comprehend the tongue of the other”. They abandon their project and disperse across the face of the earth, splitting into seventy nations.
The Parashah concludes with a chronology of the generations from Noach to Abraham. and his journey from Ur Casdim to Charan, on the way to Canaan.
MAFTIR Genesis 11: 29 – 32 page 40
HAFTARAH Isaiah 54:1 – 55:5 page 41
Isaiah speaks of the exiled nation of Israel as a woman unable to have children, stranded in despair, but about to be redeemed. Isaiah emphasizes the temporariness of everything, even nature: “The mountains may be moved and the hills may falter, but my kindness shall not be removed from you and my covenant of peace shall not falter (54:10).” G-d promises to always, in the end, step in and save the day: “whoever attacks you will fall because of me (54:15).” The entire nation of Jews was exiled in Babylon, taken to the lowest of the low, but world events and Isaiah’s flood of prophecies foretold both a dramatic reversal of fortune, and the Jews’ eventual return.
Parashah Study Questions
1. The word “teivah” actually means box, chest or container. Why do we translate it as “ark” (6:14)? What is an “ark”?
2. Why do you think the world has been conditioned to think that all animals entered the ark “2 by 2” when actually the “clean animals” actually entered 7×7 (v. 7:2)?
3. According to v. 7:22, which animals didn’t die?
4. According to the Talmud, what day of the year did Noach leave the ark (v. 8:13)?
5. The Babel has given definition to a myriad of terms referring to confused speech, incoherency and nonsense. Is it fair to so negatively define a nation (Babylonia) and continue to cast aspersions for an event that occurred thousands of years ago?