Noah: We can choose to stop the hate

dove NoahYes, it’s late on Friday afternoon, and I’m just getting to this. And yes, I know, that if you read this after tomorrow afternoon, it won’t be parashat Noach anymore, since the Torah portion “switches” on Saturday afternoon, and we will officially be into Lech L’cha. But frankly, I wrote a Lech L’cha piece this morning, getting it all mixed up on what parasha we’re in (though it’s right there on my calendar), and I’m so swamped in work, I feel like I’m drowning.

Connection to Noach – bingo.

For a moment, I started identifying less with Noah, who survived the flood, and more with the poor creatures who got swept up in the overwhelming, overpowering waters. For a moment, the idea of just starting all over again resonated with me. Sweep off the desk, clear out the papers, start from the beginning again, so that I can gulp some air and begin to breathe again. You’ve felt like that, right? I mean, those of you who aren’t super-organized, and for whom life doesn’t throw so many curveballs. And if you are one of those people, well, I’m guessing we’re not really friends!

In any case, this parasha always makes me think of Stephen Schwartz’s musical, “Children of Eden”, the midrash musical that never made it to Broadway. The first act is about Creation, the second act is Noah. After Noah builds the ark, God makes it rain, and the forty days are up, Noah and Mrs. Noah are tired, confused, and feeling very alone. The rain isn’t stopping. Finally, in a creative plot twist, Shem and Ham decide the reason the rain hasn’t stopped is because Japheth’s love Yonah (“dove”) is from the marked line of Cain, and they want to throw her overboard in order to calm the waters. Noah waits for God to tell him what to do next, but no guidance comes:

MAMA (spoken)
He doesn’t speak to you anymore, does He? Not since before the rain?

NOAH (spoken)
No. And now…I don’t know what Father wants.

(spoken) You must be the father now.
(singing) The spark of creation,

that’s all you’ve got left now.
The spark of creation will have to be your guide.
If no outer force will show you your course,
you’ll have to look inside.
Your only illumination, the spark of— (creation)

Of all the gifts we have received,
one is most precious and most terrible
The will in each of us is free.
It’s in our hands.

And if someday we hear a voice;
if He should speak again, our silent Father—
All He will tell us is the choice . . .
is in our hands.

Our hands can choose to drop the knife.
Our hearts can choose to stop the hating
For every moment of our life . . .
is the beginning.

There is no journey gone so far,
so far we cannot stop and change direction
No doom is written in the stars

Noah chose for empathy, inclusiveness, that change can happen. It’s in our hands. “We can choose to drop the knife and choose to stop the hating.” Yes, I bolded those lines above. This week, we need to hear this more than ever.

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