No other Torah portion is as well known or fires the imagination as much as Parashat Noach – but the story includes a number of problematic elements. For instance: How could a 600-year-old man build a cruise ship in his back yard?
What makes the Torah different from any other book we read? I posed this question years ago to a group of second graders as we began a lesson about Simchat Torah. “We read it from a scroll,” one student answered. “It’s in Hebrew!” added another, excitedly.
Aligned with the rhythm of our earth turning on its axis, our season of returning (t’shuvah) continues its turn. We move from the introspection and repentance of Yom Kippur, our Day of Atonement, to the holiday of Sukkot.
How can we hold ourselves accountable for our actions? How can we follow through with changing our own lives? At this time of year, and in this week in particular, questions like these might weigh heavily on our minds.
You stand this day, all of you, before the Eternal your God – you tribal heads, you elders, and you officials, all the men of Israel, you children, you women, even the stranger within your camp, from wood chopper to water drawer – to enter into the covenant of the
I do not believe, as Torah describes, that God directly acts in our world, or that the COVID-19 plague is some kind of Divine message. But I do believe that in the face of disease, suffering, and evil, God weeps with us; and when we aspire to holiness regardless of our circumstance, God celebrates with us. And the more we keep these ideals in mind, the better we can build a world worthy of blessing.
Just after the opening number of the 1992 animated Disney classic Aladdin, its title character sings “One Jump Ahead,” a catchy tune that introduces us to the young “street rat” and his sidekick, Abu, after they’ve stolen a loaf of bread.