Noah - Weekly Torah Portion


The Haftarah for this week comes from the book of Isiah where the prophet calls, “Enlarge the place of your tent; / Stretch out the curtains of your dwellings, spare not; Lengthen your cords / And strengthen your pegs. / For you will spread abroad to the right and to the left. / And your descendants will possess nations / And will resettle the desolate cities.” There is a kind of poetic justice listening to these words on the same week where the World Zionist Congress convenes and it seems that some of its leaders have forgotten that their aim is to widen the Zionist camp rather than narrowing it. There is also more poetical justice that on a week where the Knesset votes on the founding of an investigative committee on the purchase of submarines, also known as Case 3000, we also read about Noah who is ordered to build a vessel at a different time in history, “Make for yourself an ark of gopher wood; you shall make the ark with rooms, and shall cover it inside and out with pitch. This is how you shall make it: the length of the ark three hundred cubits, its breadth fifty cubits, and its height thirty cubits. You shall make a window for the ark, and finish it to a cubit from the top; and set the door of the ark in the side of it; you shall make it with lower, second, and third decks.”

Noah is put to the task of building an ark because “God looked on the earth, and behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted their way upon the earth. Then God said to Noah, “The end of all flesh has come before Me; for the earth is filled with violence because of them; and behold, I am about to destroy them with the earth.” This was not the plan for the world – it should have been better. However, there was a quick deterioration, the first murder, the tower reaching the heavens, and the violence that filled the earth. The damage that bad doers bring upon earth is so great that eventually they destroy themselves too. Momentarily it may seem as if they are successful, as if evil is going to conquer the world, just to find out that they disappear off of the earth’s face. The prophet proclaims, “‘In an outburst of anger / I hid My face from you for a moment, / But with everlasting lovingkindness I will have compassion on you,’ / Says the Lord your Redeemer. / For this is like the days of Noah to Me, / When I swore that the waters of Noah / Would not flood the earth again; / So I have sworn that I will not be angry with you / Nor will I rebuke you.”

Isiah also demands, “In righteousness you will be established; / You will be far from oppression, for you will not fear; / And from terror, for it will not come near you.” This is so true for both the issues of the submarines on the one hand and the National Institutions on the other. In both cases, regardless of the politics involved, a system that works towards the coverup of areas where there is a suspicion o wrongdoing is not right and unwise. Eventually, and that may take many years, that which is rotten will continue to rot, it will stink so much that even those involved will be unable to prevent its exposure. If there is anything there it is better that it is checked now. If there is nothing there then nothing will be found. If there is, then it is best to find it now rather than later as the later alternative comes with a hefty price, the price paid by Noah’s generation. Instead of simply fixing which needed to be fixed they continues until “the earth is filled with violence”. When this point of no return is reached repair becomes impossible. Then all gets lost and started anew. In the life of a state that can be a price to great to be paid.

Thanks to the dedicated and hard work of our friends at Arzenu, the Reform Movement’s pollical arm, the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ), the World Union for Progressive Judaism (WUPJ), and of course the Israel Movement for Reform and Progressive Judaism (IMPJ), in cooperation with the Conservative Movement, there were achieved several successes in the National Institution negotiations, despite the difficulties. The tent was broadened the cords extended. We owe to those who spend days and nights much thanks. Through their hard work we are blessed with the words of the prophet, “‘No weapon that is formed against you will prosper; / And every tongue that accuses you in judgment you will condemn. / This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, / And their vindication is from Me,’ declares the Lord.” Still, we should not rest – in less than five years from now we will be dealing again with the WZC elections and we should be prepared so that we can enjoy another blessing of Isiah, “O afflicted one, storm-tossed, and not comforted, / Behold, I will set your stones in antimony, / And your foundations I will lay in sapphires. / Moreover, I will make your battlements of rubies, / And your gates of crystal, / And your entire wall of precious stones. / All your sons will be taught of the Lord; / And the well-being of your sons will be great.” This can happen if we wisely organize and deploy from now and until that time.

Shabbat Shalom and Good Health.

Reuven Marko, 23 October 2020, 6 Cheshvan, 5781

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