Torah Portion: Noah B’resheet (Genesis) 6-11
Haftorah Reading: Isaiah 54:1-10
Tonight we discuss the Torah portion Noah, a man described by Torah as a just man, perfect in his generation. (Genesis 6:9) The word translated as just is Tzadik in Hebrew. It can also be translated as righteous and the word translated as perfect is Tamay, also meaning pure. This gives us the picture of a man of principles, a good man, not swayed by the sin around him. He was able to maintain his connection with G-d even in the midst of a sinful world. This speaks to us about how we live in our world today. Are we swayed by what we see and hear each day or can we maintain our balance? Especially in our world today this is an important question we all face.
I would like to start tonight with my question of the week. I asked for your opinion on the similarities between Chapter 1 and Chapter 9 of Genesis, especially the two words good in chapter 1 and covenant in chapter 9. Both words appear 7 times in their respective chapters. I asked also about the difference between the creation of man in chapter 1 and then in chapter 9.
In chapter one we read of G-d creating and each day His creation was good, there were no imperfections. When we call something good we are speaking about how it is in itself on its own merits. However, when we use the word covenant in chapter 9 we are talking about relationships, a moral bond between two entities or people. G-d makes a covenant between Himself and us. He does everything to set it into motion, the only act He requires of us is to enter into it and to agree with the terms.
This brings me to the difference in the creation of man as told in chapter 1 and in chapter 9. In Genesis 1:26-27 we read where I am in the image of G-d while chapter 9 is written to bring out that the other person is also in the image of G-d. The other person has the image of G-d in them and as such limits are set. It is wrong to murder. Why? It is wrong because the victim carries the same image as we do. This is why the word covenant is used in chapter 9.
Without a grasp of this principle it is tempting, maybe even inevitable that we begin to think of ourselves as better, more deserving than the “other.” This attitude leads us where? We find ourselves on a path leading to violence and destruction because somehow we are better than the other. G-d is telling Noah and us as well, that all people carry the image of G-d. We should respect and deal justly with everyone. G-d is asking us to see other people in His image and not in our own image. We are not to associate only with people just like us. The question is, “Do I see a trace of G-d in the face of a stranger?” Or do I avoid him because he is different.
I would like to end with another word that is somewhat misunderstood in our thinking. This word is “ark.” In Hebrew the word we translate as ark is Teva. The meaning of this word is chest, box or even coffin. In modern Hebrew it is even used to describe your mailbox.
Given this information what does this say about the ark? It was basically a floating box, not the picture we often see artists portraying as a sea faring boat. So this box-like craft that Noah was told to build was to save him and his family from the flood. It had no rudder, no sail, no navigation system Noah could not steer the ark even if he wanted to. This makes a powerful connection with the word covenant. Noah was completely dependant on G-d. His only obligation was to enter into the ark He was totally dependant on G-d for the whole voyage – the entire storm. G-d even shut him and his family in. So once the ark was built Noah did nothing except sit out the flood. His deliverance was not dependent on him at all but only on the will of his Heavenly Father. Noah only had to build a box that would float and everything else he put his faith in G-d to take him through what would come.
Sound familiar? This ark can be seen as a physical picture of the covenant that Noah entered into with G-d. In Hebrews 11:7 we read that by faith Noah constructed an ark for the saving of his household. To know the salvation of G-d we must enter the ark of His covenant and be in that covenantal relationship with Him. Covenant provides the way for salvation. Trusting G-d, entering into that relationship with Him, through His Son, our Messiah and emerging into life in a new world.