Sunday, October 3, 2021

Noach: Reconciliation

For this year’s E-Torah cycle, we will approach the weekly portion as a springboard for a learning conversation.  Each week will offer a brief commentary, followed by a prompt for discussion, which you can do with a family member or a friend—or on your own as a sort of internal dialogue/reflection.


I have set my bow in the clouds and it shall be a sign of the covenant between Me and the earth.  When I bring clouds over the earth, and the bow appears in the clouds, I will remember My covenant between Me and you and every living creature, so that the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh.  (Genesis 9:11-15)

After the flood, there is vast repair work to be done. The ravaged land will slowly heal and the rescued pairs of animals will reproduce and replenish the earth.  But for Noah and his family, the psychological damage is devastating.  Their relationship with the Holy One is surely strained to the breaking point by the destruction they witnessed and the despair they bore through the raging storm.

How does God begin to heal that breach?  With the sign of the rainbow, a tangible symbol of the Divine promise to never again destroy life on earth.  But why a rainbow?

Ramban (Nachmanides, 1194-1270) suggests that it is an inverted war bow.  He explains that in the ancient world, where battles were fought with bows and arrows, when one side was ready to surrender, they would lift an inverted bow, much as today they might wave a white flag.  Thus, the Ramban notes, the inverted bow in the skies represents God’s gesture of appeasement.  It is, in short, a divine peace offering.

Conversation Question:
In this still-new year, can you identify a conflict in your own life that you would like to resolve?  What kind of gesture might you make toward that end?

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