I remember learning in seminary about the story of Noah and the flood, and being surprised about how much nuance and depth there was to the story. It really was not at all about a great flood or a person, but the rebooting of a creation, by first undoing creation, only to recreate it. At its core, it’s a story of hope.
The real first lightbulb moment for me was the realisation that according to many sources, creation was simply an act of separation (light from darkness, water from heavens, water from dry land, etc.). Therefore, any act that undoes those separations is unholy because it undoes the very work of God and creation.
We humans set up our society in ways that seek to build on creation, separating things to create order from chaos, just as God did in the story of creation that we read last week. Elements in our lives like law and order, civility and morality, compassion and empathy are all ways that we attempt to create those boundaries between us and the barbarism and tumult of living without order.
When the order is upset, or chaos is allowed to invade our lives, sometimes we have a visceral reaction of panic, despair or anxiety. Sometimes we attempt to hide ourselves from that chaos, hoping that it will pass us by.
If we’ve learned anything in our long history as a people, it is that the order, harmony and holiness of creation, that order which we strive for, is fleeting. It must constantly be attended to, and worked on. Holiness and creation are not things we achieve, but ideals to struggle for.
These past 2 weeks, watching our home, Israel, be overrun with the brutality of violence directed at innocents, I cannot help but feel despair and hopelessness as I watch the work of creation undone, elements of holiness departing the world as we watch, seemingly helpless to intervene.
But then I open my eyes and see, the even now in the midst of suffering and pain, our community, as it has done so many times in our history, rallying together to once again bring the holiness of creation back to the world through incredible acts of generosity and love, giving of our time, money and love. If you are looking for ways to help or support, please visit https://emanuel.org.au/resources/
The story of Noah and the flood is a story of hope. It reminds us that even in the darkest of times, there is the potential for a brighter future. Just as Noah emerged from the ark to witness a rainbow, a symbol of God’s promise, we must believe that a time of peace and prosperity will come to Israel.
As we pray for the resolution of conflicts and the healing of wounds, let us hold fast to the lessons of Noah: to be righteous, to persevere, to nurture hope in our hearts and to always remain committed to the continuing act of creation. May we, like Noah, bring about a new beginning amidst the chaos of our world.
In the words of Psalm 34:15, “The eyes of God are upon the righteous, and the ears of God are open to their cry.” Let us pray for the righteous and for the restoration of peace in the land of Israel. May hope, like a rainbow after the storm, one day shine brightly over the Holy Land.
Rabbi Rafi Kaiserblueth