Oct 27, 2006

No'ach: A rough sketch.

This is, in essence, what it looks like when I study Torah. Comments, short excerpts and things that catch me off guard that I pen for future examination. I'm trying to go throughout the year, keeping up with the Torah, it's commentary and haftarah readings. My text is Etz Hayim: torah and Commentary, which is a Conservative text. Additionally, I have a full Hebrew-text Tanakh and the Jewish Study Bible. So, basically, I've got my bases covered. Although I did not write remarks on last week's Parhsha (or dedicate nearly as much time to it), it's there. I haven't gotten to this week's haftarah reading, and I am saving that for tomorrow morning. So here you go, this is the thought pattern of Amand for the No'ach Torah portion (B'reishit 6:9-11:32).

+ 7:22 -- Was G-d concious of sparing the life of all marine animals? Why? All creatures on "dry land" are swept away in the flood, but not marine life. Curious ...

+ Amazing that locations in such early biblical and near Eastern stories can be pegged (8:4).

+ Olive branch is bitter? I had no clue ... but what irony, eh? The dove and the olive branch have come to symbol peace. We refer to leaders passing or sharing the olive branch, but how appropriate that it has a bitter taste, for all compromises tend to leave a bitter taste in one's mouth.

+ "The fear and the dread of you shall be upon all the beasts of the earth..." (9:2) -- Is this an attempt to quell the desire of humans to reach a higher eschelon of superiority? Is this meant to put humans in a position of power so that they don't seek to unseat G-d? The commentary suggests that this was in response to the human idea (when man was commanded to be vegetarian) that men could behave as animals. Thus by G-d differentiating the power and dietary restrictions ... man no longer could behave as animals, because they were "above" them. Interestingly, I'd have to disagree. Other commentators?

+ "I have set My bow in the clouds, and it shall serve as a sign of the covenant between Me and the earth. When I bring clouds over the earth, and the bow apears in the clouds, I will remember My covenant between Me and you and every living creature among all flesh, so that the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh." (9:13-15) -- (prayer for rainbows! ... keeping promises, recited after seeing a rainbow) Wow. I had no clue that there was content regarding rainbows in Torah. I almost feel cheated ... the magnificence has always been something I appreciated, but I had no idea that it was tied to a sort of convenant reminder with mankind. It almost makes the beautiful sight MORE magnificent. This also is curious re: when rainstorms produce no rainbow.

+ (10:2) -- Great grandson of Noah is named "Ashkenaz" ...? Does this have any bearing to the term "Ashkenazic" ...? The commentary suggests that the people of the Ashkenaz line were island people of Greece, etc., but says nothing about the common belief that Ashkenazic Jews are those descended of Eastern Europe, Germany, Poland, Austria, etc. In fact, if I'm not mistaken Greecian Jews were considered Sephardic, if anything, not Ashkenazic. I must investigate!

+ (10:8) -- How did Nimrod go from being the first man of might on Earth to being a name called of someone who is a complete idiot? Also, in commentary says he was the first to "misuse" his talents, killing first animals and then humans because of his bloodlust. Interesting and amusing.


Alex said...

Noah is a great animal-rights parsha. Note that the rainbow is not just a sign of a covenant between humankind and G-d, but between all flesh and G-d. That animals can be party to a covenant, a kind of religious legal agreement implies some kind of rights or at least, some kind of theological standing. The sixth of the seven laws of Noah is a prohibition of animal cruelty. It is in this Parsha that humankind is given permission to eat meat, but with stipulations and responsibilities.

Unknown said...

You know what's really cool about the Rainbow? Read Genesis 1 6-7:

6 And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.

7 And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so.

Before the Flood, the earth was uniformly tropical, sort of like a big greenhouse, because of this "firmament" that was basically a layer of heavy moist air in the atmosphere. This environment allowed animals to thrive, lizards to grow to massive sizes, and people to live much longer. It also made it impossible for a rainbow to form, since the light from the sun was scattered and diffused by the firmament. The Lord released this firmament during the Flood, after which the earth experienced many different climate zones and other after-effects.

With no more firmament, the sunlight is now able to hit the earth more directly and, consequently, become scattered when it hits precipitation from rainclouds. In essence, rainbows were not even possible before the Flood, but now they are, thanks to the ingenious way the Lord designed our planet. :)

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