Parshat Noach

Torah Reading for Week of October 18-24, 2020
“Noach: In Living Color”
By Rabbi Neil Blumofe, ’09
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.
Previously published on in 2014.
In this week’s portion, our Torah teaches that God told Noah that there will be a rainbow in the clouds to recall the eternal covenant between God and all of us.  Our tradition reminds us that this is no ordinary rainbow, refracting light – rather the rainbow is a burst of spiritual light, demonstrating the different colors and potentials that each of us have to pursue meaning in this world, by our deeds.  How do we come back after setback?  After anger and embarrassment, how do we reset expectations and find a way forward with our family and our friends?  After trust has been compromised, how do we continue and even improve a fraught relationship?
The rainbow that is revealed in the clouds after the flood brings wonder and the presence of God back into our lives.  After despondency and violence – after wandering down blind alleys and having times of crisis, we can abandon our heaviness and our hopelessness and see for even a moment, rays of light that remind us that as we still live, all is not lost.  We may then shuttle our disappointments to one side and realize that we don’t have to be overwhelmed by the flood of self-doubt or trouble that may regularly rain down upon us – that we can take that one moment of witnessing a beautiful phenomenon and let that be enough for us to participate in a covenant that while not guaranteed, is marvelous in its surprising beauty.
We know, as the artist Paul Cezanne writes, that we live in a rainbow of chaos.  How can we describe what is in our sky to encourage our confidence? May this fleeting moment that we have, enliven us.  By this jolt of connection – this powerful, elusive reminder – may we be impelled to rededicate ourselves to receiving our inspiration and purpose, amid destruction.
Let us look past gathering storms and see the rainbow that lines all disenchantment.  Secure in claiming our part of the covenant, we are able to keep calm and assess what is important and of value, even without possessing full understanding.  Let us look for a break in established cynicism and see a fleeting colorful spectacle that invites us to new challenges while instilling in us pride, determination, and relief.