Shalom y’all and welcome to this week’s episode of Better Know a Parsha.
This week we’ll be visiting Noah: The fightin’ boat builder!!
Like Bereshit, this is an action-packed Parsha, so hold on to your hats!
If you want to fully experience this episode, press play and then read while listening to the glory of my preschool days:
Noah, in Hebrew: Noach (with a good kh on the end), comes along 10 generations after Adam and Eve, and much like the Millenials, his generation sucked.
However, Noah is described as being “righteous in his generation.” The rabbis disagree as to whether Noah was really a great person or simply not as terrible as everyone else around him.
So God comes to Noah and tells him that because everyone is awful he’s got some major plans brewing.
Noah’s first task is to try to get everyone on board with the whole “God’s going to destroy the world” thing. This goes poorly:
So under God’s orders, Noah starts a major construction project:
As I learned in preschool, Noah built an Arky Arky as instructed by God and then brings one pair of every unkosher animal and seven pairs of each kosher animal on board. In case you were wondering, they went on by two-sy two-sies.
Once Noah and all the animals were on board, God really let it rip with the rain.
It rained for 40 days and 40 nights, washing away everything on earth
But Noah and all his animals were just straight chillin:
Once it stopped raining, Noah was still stuck on this floating zoo until the earth air dried (about 150 more days). He would periodically send out birds to see if they could find any signs of life.
Eventually, a dove he sent out came back with an olive branch, and then the following day didn’t come back at all, signifying that he had found a place to stay and the earth would be dry and inhabitable soon, which is a good thing, because you know by that point everyone had to be all.
So Noah gets off the boat and God makes a rainbow, which to this day serves as a covenant with man meaning that we’ll never be totally wiped off the face of the earth again:
Side note: this is also the part in the Torah where God tells us to be fruitful and multiply. So enjoy this rabbit attempting to follow God’s commandment:
Once off the boat, Noah has his priorities clearly in order. First, make sacrifices to God and get the whole rainbow thing sealed. Second: Plant a vineyard and get wicked drunk.
Here’s where the parsha turns a little dark. One of Noah’s sons, Ham, saw his father sleeping after a little too much wine and in biblical terms “uncovers his nakedness.” It’s unclear exactly what happened, but safe to assume that Ham assaulted his father in some way.
His other two sons, Shem and Yaphet, approach with their backs turned and cover their dad up so he can sleep it off. When he wakes up, Noah curses Ham and blesses Shem and Yaphet, especially Shem.
According to tradition, Jews, Arabs and other Middle Eastern peoples are all decedents of Shem, which is where the term “Semite” comes from. This week, with everything happening in the Middle East, it’s especially important that we remember we’re all one family. I’m not going to get political here, but I hope you can all join me in praying/hoping/wishing for an end to the senseless violence that is taking the lives of Israelis, Palestinians, Syrians, Iraqis, Turks and others in the region.
Okay, so now we’ve arrived at the end of the parsha where we get a bonus totally non-sequitur story: The Tower of Babel!!
So the people of Earth decide they’re super cool and they want to build a tower up to heaven to battle God.
But God was all:
So while previously everyone had spoken one language… he switched them all up, so it sounded like they were babbling at each other. GET IT???
Without a common language, the building didn’t go so well:
And that’s where we end our parsha!
Tune in next week for the next episode of… As the Torah Turns: Lech L’cha!
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What's a Parsha?
Jews read a bit of the Torah (Five Books of Moses/first five books of the Bible) every week in synagogue/temple. Each section we read is called a Parsha.