Shabbat Noah: Creating the World Anew
As the beginning unfolds a warning goes forth:
Remember it is so easy to go astray.
It is so easy to allow ourselves to be ruled by impatience,
To be shaped by harsh judgments,
To become uninterested in the lives of others.
Even with the best intentions,
Even with the commitment to love,
It is still so easy to go astray.
But always there is an opening, a tzohar,
A way to see differently,
A way to let in visions, practices and insightsthat help us keep turning.
That help us keep turning toward attentive kindness,
Toward curiosity and interest.
Always there is an opening, a tzohar
That will show us the way to live in reverent relationship with each other
And all the earth.
In parshat Noah we witness the exile of speech. Noah remains silent when God tells him of the plan to put an end to human beings and destroy all the earth. When hearing this news Noah does not argue, he does not comment. Noah does not ask one question. Noah, the man who walks with God, remains completely silent as creation is shattered. Noah's speech has been exiled, a consequence of the deep disconnection of his generation.
The people of Noah's generation lost interest in their relationships with each other and the earth. They no longer looked toward each other with curiosity or care. Human interactions became like robbery, people grabbing what they wanted for themselves with out any awareness, sensitivity or concern about how their actions might affect another. The generation had lost the ability to act with kindness. They lost the capacity to see the humanity in another, to see Divinity in the world. This experience was the very converse of love.
And God examined the generation and chose Noah, seeing him not just for who he is but more importantly for who he might become.
God told Noah to do three things:
To build an ark,
To enter the ark with his family,
To bring into the ark representatives from the animal world.
In the building of the ark God instructed Noah to make a tzohar, an opening through which new insights, visions and ways of being could appear.
And with this tzohar the ark became a laboratory for curiosity and kindness.
In the ark Noah's perspective shifted and he began to experience life differently. In the ark Noah became a righteous person. His responsibility to care for the animals transformed his consciousness. Through his relationship with the animals Noah relearned alert, attentive kindness. He rediscovered curiosity. He became interested again in diversity and the intricate patterns of creation. Being responsible for the well being of living creatures awakened his concern for others.
Noah re-experienced the interconnection of all life.
Sensitivity and kindness reappeared. Love poured forth.
And with this the world was created anew.
Alert, attentive kindness.
Curiosity and interest in others.
Even with the best intentions it is so easy to go astray and loss sight of these commitments. This week's Torah portion reminds us to seek a tzohar, an opening that helps us return to awareness and compassion.