Last week’s Parsha was pretty uplifting at first. We see the emergence of Light from Darkness and the magnificent unfolding of Creation. We learn about the harmoniousness of the Garden of Eden being the radical and disturbing evolution of human awareness. We hear the warnings associated with the Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. The author gives humans both the taste of harmoniousness and a taste of responsibility and challenges. We are reminded of the struggles between the eco-agrarian competitors, the farmer, Cain and the shepherd, Abel. That struggle lead to violence. That struggle continues today.
This week’s Parsha, Noah, takes us through the mud, of discord and evil, into a new level of understanding and hopefulness.
From Genesis 6: 11 Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight, and the earth was filled with violence. 12 And God saw the earth, and behold, it was corrupt, for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth. 13 And God said to Noah, l have determined, to make an end of all flesh, 3 for the earth is filled with violence through them. Behold, I will destroy them with the earth. 14 Make yourself an Ark of gopher wood.4 Make rooms in the Ark, and cover it inside and out with pitch…
We see the beginnings of a new creation story where it is a righteous person, working with the Creator, who saves the earth, Life and humanity from utter destruction. Parshat Noach puts the ultimate responsibility in our hands. After the flood, an example of radical climate change, brought about by the wickedness of humanity, the Creator no longer takes responsibility for such calamities. It is now up to us to get our act together, to fulfill the rainbow covenant and see the dove holding onto olive branches.
It’s hard work. This morning I attended a meeting of a new Jewish organization that has received significant funding to address the human and corporate transgressions that are at the root of the climate crisis. It’s called the Jewish Climate Leadership Coalition. Hosted by Hazon, one of now several Jewish environmental organizations, who are birthing a new and coordinated effort to address the climate challenges of our times. -Reb David