This week's Torah portion is from Genesis 6:9 through11:32 and is called Noach, which, you can probably figure out, means Noah. Interestingly, although the opening verses tells of Noah's character, the text begins with "These are the offspring of Noah." This should be an indication to us that we are known by our children, and so should pay very careful attention to how we raise them. But his character is of great importance. The text reveals that "Noah was a righteous man, perfect in his generation." Now this qualifying phrase has been the root of Rabbinic debate for MANY generations! Does the phrase "in his generation" imply that even though his was so corrupt and debased, Noah's righteousness was to be especially applauded. What if he had lived in a time when he could have had the support of other righteous men and women; how much more righteous would he have been? But, the other side postures that for someone in the generation of total corruption, Noah looked pretty good. He may not have be totally righteous, but in the crown in which he lived, he looked better than the rest. Something to think about, hmmm?
Speaking of something to ponder, here is my offering for this week. How many of each animal did Noah take into the ark? Forget your Sunday School lessons of old and look at the Word of G-d. Read Genesis 7:2, "Of every clean animal take unto you seven pairs." So, the ark must have been even more crowded than we had presumed. But the point I want you to ponder is why this distinction? What was so important to G-d that He made this distinction so important to Noah? First, it was because G-d would require sacrifices made with clean animals when the flood abated. But, more important was the fact that G-d was making provision for Noah and for all of his descendants for the food they would eat. Too many have chosen to ignore G-d's commandment to eat only of the animals that He declares to be clean. I know that Peter saw all sorts of animals and that the Voice of G-d told him to rise and eat. I know that G-d told him not to call unclean what G-d calls clean. But if you read the rest of that story, you see that what G-d was calling clean was the Gentiles to whom Peter was being called, not pork chops and shrimp cocktails! No, G-d made a clear distinction to Noah as He does to us.
In chapter 11 we find the story of the Tower of Babel. All the world was of one language and of common purpose. That purpose was, however, to become as G-d; not to serve Him. So G-d confused their languages and set them at enmity with one another. In strife there can come focus on what is really important. G-d establishes mankind in nations with different purposes for His own reasons. He causes one people to rise up against another to accomplish His plan. Throughout history, He has set nations at war with nations. Yet, His heart is for unity for His purpose. How confusing. I believe that the only thing that can unite us is to fall at the Feet of the Messiah. Only there can we come to the place of oneness that we long for. So, the most important thing that you can do this week is to share your faith with someone who is different than you. Only by shared faith can we come together in the way described in Psalm 133. May this be your quest and mine today and always.