Saturday, October 13, 2007

Parashat Noach : People Get Ready

Parashat Noach (Noah)
October 13, 2007/1 Cheshvan 5768

Torah: Gen. 6:9-11:32
Haftarah: Is. 66:1-24 (Rosh Chodesh, otherwise Is. 54:1-55:5)
Brit Chadesha: Mt. 24:36-46

Growing up in a Jewish home, the portion of Noach contains a central Bible story with which I was raised. It creates very vivid visual images, and tells a clear message about obeying G-d, even when the reason seems unclear or if what He is asking you to do seems unusual or unrealistic.

G-d gives Noah very clear instructions – he tells Noah what is about to happen, and gives him specific instructions for the ark – the exact size and dimensions – and what to do concerning bringing the animals on board, as well as how to take care of his own food and family. Then came the flood. Everything and everyone perished except Noah, his family, and the animals on the Ark. Because of Noah’s faithfulness, G-d makes a covenant with Noah, which is described in Gen. 9:1-4:

Gen 9:1 Then God blessed Noah and his sons, saying to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the earth.Gen 9:2 The fear and dread of you will fall upon all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air, upon every creature that moves along the ground, and upon all the fish of the sea; they are given into your hands.Gen 9:3 Everything that lives and moves will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything.Gen 9:4 “But you must not eat meat that has its lifeblood still in it.
G-d promises Noah that the world will never again be destroyed by a flood.

Two side notes: This is where the rabbinic prohibition about consuming blood comes from. Even in the cases of kosher animals, for meat to be rabbinically kosher it has to go through a specific slaughter and preparatory process in order to remove as much blood as possible. As well, there is a theory that prior to the time of Noah people were vegetarians because of the way Gen. 9:3 is phrased.

Noah had three sons – Shem, Ham, and Japeth – and from them descended the nations described in chapter ten. But there was a problem when Ham, the father of Canaan, caught his father naked and drunk. Instead of being discreet about it, he went and told his brothers, bringing shame upon Noah. As a result, Noah cursed Canaan to be the slave of Shem, but blessed Shem and Japeth.

Chapter 11 talks about the Tower of Babel, whereby the L-rd confused and scattered the people there by giving them different languages. The portion ends with the genealogy from Shem to Abram.

The Haftarah is a special reading this week because of Rosh Chodesh. The prophet Isaiah discusses judgement for the disobedient, and the L-rd himself states his reaction to such.

Isa 66:15 See, the L-RD is coming with fire,and his chariots are like a whirlwind;he will bring down his anger with fury,and his rebuke with flames of fire.Isa 66:16 For with fire and with his swordthe L-RD will execute judgment upon all men,and many will be those slain by the L-RD.

The New Testament portion presents Yeshua’s words about the coming of the L-rd, stating how just like the people in Noah’s day did not know what was in store, we don’t know what could be looming.

Mat 24:38 For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark;Mat 24:39 and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.

So, we have to be ready. We have to live our lives as through the L-rd is always watching – because He is – and He is ready to return. Sometimes I do or say things I would not want my earthly father hearing or knowing about, or especially catching me in the act of. How much worse it would be to be caught by my Heavenly Father. So let’s be ready.

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