Don’t Miss the Boat: Noah 2022

by Adam J. Rosenbaum

Pre-Game Chatter: Have you ever been advised to “read the room”? In other words, have you said or done something reasonable only to find out that it was not the time or place to do so?

While Noah’s family must have been gratified to know they would be saved from God’s flood, their celebration needs to be limited:

The Pitch: “But I will establish My covenant with you, and you shall enter the ark, with your sons, your wife, and your sons’ wives.” – Genesis 6:18

Swing #1: “As commanded by God at the time of the great flood, Noah’s wife accompanies her husband, her sons, and her son’s wives into and out of the ark. Having already had children, her fertility was not the reason for her survival of the flood; she comes as part of the family unit, and her inclusion shows the importance of companionship in the biblical concept of marriage. Noah’s wife is not mentioned after the flood.” – Tikvah Frymer-Kensky in Women in Scripture, Carol Meyers, ed.

Swing #2: “Mourning is necessary in the aftermath of loss or tragedy. The text appears to be saying that it is neither natural nor healthful to ‘just move on’ without experiencing grief. Instead of executing an instantaneous switch between the old and new worlds, God gives Noah and his family a transition period.” – Rabbi Eli L. Garfinkel, The JPS Jewish Heritage Torah Commentary

Swing #3: “At a time when the entire human species is being wiped out, it is not appropriate for the survivors to indulge in physical pleasures. All they were allowed to do was to eat enough in order to keep themselves alive and well.” – Radak

Late-Inning Questions: What do our commentators believe is the proper frame of mind of survivors? To what extent should they celebrate, and if so, when? To what extent should they react with humility? How do we determine when it is “a time to dance and a time to mourn”?

On-Deck at Temple Beth Tzedek: Join us at Temple this Sunday at 10am for coffee and to learn more about the partnership between Jewish Family Services of Western New York at TBT.

The Big Inning at the End: Speaking of being appropriate for a specific moment, is it relevant to play a national anthem before a sporting event that does not involve national teams? Or does that ritual add some gravitas to the moment?

Shabbat Shalom!