October 6, 2021
We learn in Parashat Noach, the Torah reading for this week, that the world had become corrupt, filled with lawlessness. As a result, God wanted to cleanse the earth of human evilness and start again, saving only Noah and his family, along with the animals.
The word in Hebrew for the corruption is “chamas” and we learn from the Rabbis that the evil doing was not blatant acts of violence and destruction. Rather, the “chamas” was from smaller acts of ongoing, persistent cheating and robbing. The offenses were too small to adjudicate. The result? A feeling of civil unrest, distrust of leaders, anarchy.
God wanted to start over because God was disappointed with how humans treated each other. Callous disregard, meanness. Over time, the overall fabric of communal cohesion began to unravel. We learn from Parashat Noach that it matters to God how we get along and how we care for our fellow. Without a basic level of empathy and commitment to the community, the system falls apart. In our sacred story, God responds by pushing the reset button.
What can we learn from this story? Perhaps, this Parasha asks us to deeply consider how we treat each other. How do seemingly benign acts (those that are rude, aggressive but not criminal) add up and pollute the spiritual landscape? Then, overtime, what happens when the system becomes so toxic that leaders are demonized, and we distrust those who have a different point of view? Is it possible to make a course correction before it is too late?
We also learn from this week’s Parasha that God promises to never destroy the earth again as a response to human corruption. God is counting on us to figure out how to get along and take care of each other.
May we be blessed with the wisdom and compassion to live up to our highest potential as individuals and as a human family.