Torah Portion: Noah B’Resheet (Gen.) 6:9-11:32

HafTorah: Isaiah 54:1-55:5

Tonight we read the Torah section of Noah. In it we look at a few points that I hope will allow us to change our lives with the help of G-d. Let us first look at the word in Hebrew for ark, tevat. Like many Hebrew words this one carries more than one meaning. It can also mean “word.” If we look at this as its meaning what could this story be telling us?

Sometimes we can feel like life is a series of storms. The waves look to overwhelm us. Sometimes these storms especially threaten our spiritual life. This can cause us to stumble and put us in danger of falling. What can we do to help us through these storms of life? Psalms 32:6 gives us a good insight as to where our true help lies. Is it in our own ability to tough it out? No, like the word of G-d in the form of a wooden boat saved Noah, so it will us. If our time is spent poured out in getting to know Him who formed us from the dust of the earth and gave us life, then no matter what storm comes we are okay. In John 1 Yeshua is compared to this word of G-d. Just as Noah was the one to save mankind with his ark/word, so does Yeshua do the same for us. However like Noah we have to work to make sure that ark/word is built strong enough to weather the storms. We must put in the time and effort through our own study and prayer to build our ark. When we do then it will lift us above the waves and carry us through. Don’t depend on someone else but make the effort each day to add another plank to the ark.

Our biggest challenge can be our own words. Our words can build an ark that will sink and destroy us as well as others, which brings me to my other question.

In B’Resheet we read in 9:20-28 about the incident where Noah became drunk and probably passed out in a state of being physically exposed. First, his son Ham saw him and reported back to his brothers what he saw. The two brothers covered Noah with care taken to not look on his nakedness. Ham was cursed. Shem and Japeth were blessed. Why? Ham’s response was first to gossip about his father’s condition rather than doing something about it. In fact that is all he did. The other two brothers sought to cover their father without even glancing at his condition. In fact the Torah is usually very conservative in the use of word but here makes a point that we see the extent they went in not judging their father. They took action to help without talking about him. How could he have done this? We thought he was better than this? What a spectacle? They just helped him.

Jean and I had an interesting experience this week that really brought this to bear for me. We were talking to someone we know well and, kind of out of the blue, this person asked us about something that someone had told them about us. Jean asked who said this and got no answer, just a repeat of the allegation. So what is the problem with this situation? Does it qualify as gossip? Does it matter if the information was true or false? What does this story about the son’s of Noah teach us?

At the end of this I will give you a list of verses about gossip, idle words, judgment, but for now consider this quote, “When you see ill in your friend, it is your own ill you are observing.” The problems we think we see in others are usually the problems that are in our own lives. What does the New Testament say about judging? Matt. 7:1-11. Usually when we see a flaw in someone it is G-d’s way of gently telling us to take a look inside.

Now we might comfort ourselves by thinking that we are helping a person see the errors of his ways. Don’t take too much comfort in this thought. One way to discover our true motivation might be when you see something or hear something if your first impulse is to judge and then try to help you are the one who will be judged. But, if you first see the need to help, like the two sons of Noah, then you are looking at a window of opportunity not a mirror that reflects your own faults. I pray we each are like Shem and Japeth and not Ham.

Verses: Psalms 41:7; Proverbs 25:23; Leviticus 19:16; Proverbs 11:13; Romans 1:28-32; II Corinthians 12:20