Parshat Noach

Torah Reading for Week of October 7-13, 2018
“The Flood We Need”
by Rabbi/Cantor Eva Robbins, ’04 & ’15
The views expressed in this drash are those of the author. We welcome Torah insights and teachings from all viewpoints, and encourage dialogue to strengthen the diversity of our academy.

It is Thursday, September 27, and I am riveted by the Senate hearing testimonies of Dr. Ford and Mr. Kavanaugh. More remarkable are the senators, divided by their political motivations – one side requesting a deeper investigation, the other satisfied that their candidate had demonstrated all they needed to know. Having been violated 3 times in sexual assault I resonated with the insidious life-long impact on Dr. Ford and appalled by the un-judicial manner of her alleged assailant. In my emotional and moral outrage I must write my drash. OK, after a good night’s sleep I will tackle the portion.
Friday morning, I am once again glued to the TV, shocked that a vote is scheduled. I couldn’t help think about the perversion and lack of morality as the foundation for the critical events of Parshat Noach as I watched history in the making. Depressed and outraged by the ‘senior’ men holding our country in their hands, I watched Democrats, one by one, make a last ditch effort to influence the process. Then, in an astounding moment, a reprieve reminded we must never give up hope.
Yet a week later reality sets in. Those hell bent on ‘bending’ the courts to their own vision of the world vote and seal the country’s fate, while 60% of us have all been overpowered and assaulted. Demoralized I reread the prelude to Parshat Noach, which sets the stage for G-d’s decision to destroy all people and something stood out, “The sons of rulers…took, for themselves, wives from whomever they chose.” Talk about expressions of power – taking whomever you want to be your wife? Of course one can say that Parshat Bereishit teaches that women were punished for defying G-d’s command not to eat the fruit of the Tree, “…he shall rule over you.” The Hebrew says, “V’hu Yimshal Bach.” My translation of bach is ‘in you,’ alecha is used in Kings 17:15, “to rule over you.”
This now takes on a very different meaning for me, especially as we’ve seen men express their power with women in relationships, in work settings, and in sexual assault. My translation teaches us that we often let men have power – they rule ‘within us.’ #Me Too is shifting the balance of power with women coming forward and expressing their rage, suffering, and humiliation of internalizing, ‘bach,’ the power of the other. Noach was righteous for his time, so must we be righteous for our time. “Where there are no worthy persons, strive to be a worthy person.” Pirkei Avot 2:6
G-d’s response to the aggression, violence, corruption, and perversion is to destroy everything yet expresses one of the most poignant statements in Torah, “V’yitatzeiv el-libo,” “G-d felt sadness and is grief-stricken in His heart.” For many of us, we too are grief-stricken in our hearts.
Why a flood, when later in Torah G-d opened the earth to swallow the sinful? Water, which we depend on for sustenance, for nourishing all that needs to grow, for its transformative power of Mikveh and the ceremony of Tashlich, for its purifying and healing potential a well as its holy cleansing capacity (both in ancient times for the priest before entering the Holy space and our tradition of preparing the dead before burial) is incredibly powerful. The flood cleanses the earth of its horrific violators.
We need a ‘flood,’ a ‘wave’ of transformation, purification, and healing of the horrific violence and abuse of power. Just as Noach represented new potential for humanity with the rainbow of light as a sign, so too we must bring light and healing into our world for the many who have suffered silently far too long, and for a society divided.