by Rav Yaakov bar Nahman
“How long can you tread water?” or “Now what did he mean by that?” and there is that song from a few decades ago “Rain drops keep falling in my head” (anyone remember what it appeared in?) [Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid - Devo.]
Noahh’s name means “comfort” or “comfortable”. That’s cute but why would a child be given such a name? Can you imagine yourself calling your newborn son “Comfort”? Imagine the kids are outside playing ball with friends and you want your boy to come home. “Comfort, come home now.” Or how about the child’s first day in school and the teacher is asking everyone to tell his name and it goes like this, Moshe – Johny – Fredy – Abe – Shimon – Comfort and then there a moment of silence in the room before the rest of the class is rolling on the floor in laughter……
So why did his parents do it?
In last week’s parshah the very ground had been cursed by HaShem regarding mankind/ The Midrashim (ancient mystic sages’ commentaries) teach us that on top of that mankind was stuck with the fingers of his hands connected side by side, instead of freely movable individual fingers. This made farming and many other works difficult. When Noahh was born his father saw that Noahh’s hands were different. His fingers were separated from each other, individually movable. From that he realized that the curse was ended and said, “This (boy/man) will be our comfort”. Thereby the otherwise odd name.
That is quite something on its own. Yet there is even more to learn from the name and its implications. The reprieve of the Divine double curse was a boon for mankind. But, mankind had fallen under yet another curse and made things worse.
In last week’s parshah we had, [6:] 2 “that the ‘sons of God’ saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives, whomsoever they chose. 3 And the LORD said: 'My spirit shall not abide in man forever, for that he also is flesh; therefore shall his days be a hundred and twenty years.' 4 The Nephilim were in the earth in those days, and also after that, when the ‘sons of God’ came in unto the daughters of men, and they bore children to them; the same were the mighty men that were of old, the men of renown.”
Those ‘sons of God’ were members of a race of Angels who had gone down to earth for the purpose of trying to prove to HaShem that mankind is a worthless, unreliable creation and they are so much better. However to go down to earth and mingle with mankind they had to downgrade their “vibratory state” and become physical beings. They were soon to discover that not only were they no better, but they were even less moral and moral deviant and lustful etc. than mankind. To boot they taught mankind various “tricks of the trade’ that we would have been better off without. Among others, the art of warfare, the art of political intrigue, con-artistry, makeup for women and the art of the temptress to make them more alluring and able to control and play intrigues.
The Nephilim were powerful giants who had inherited the lustfulness etc. of their fathers.
From all that developed the violence and decadence we read about in the beginning of this week’s parshah. The Wild West, Chicago in the reigns of Al Capone Joe Bananos etc, all wrapped together were small potatoes compared to what went on back then.
Noahh’s father, who was one of the few decent people around in those days, got a glimpse of info from heaven - not just that Noahh’s arrival into the world signified an end of the Divine double curse, but also the end of the reign of terror and hyper-decadence that was so rife. What he did not get to see was that the end of the mess was to come about via the end of almost all of life on the planet.
The repair and rebirth of life forms' existence could only come about by the destruction of the decadent life forms and then to plant a new start. That HaShem did this by using a core of symbolic survivors of world wide destruction was in a way mercy on his creation. The only other option was to totally destroy the entire creation and start totally anew as had been done before Adam.
This eradication of evil and a second chance given to the world was also a “comfort”/Noahh.
Then to give mankind a set of rules that, by them, mankind would have guidelines to help prevent again falling into the hyper-decadence and violence of the destroyed generation..... HaShem gave the 7 Noahide Law Covenant. This too was a “comfort”.
Would that mankind through the ages had kept to that covenant, comfort would have been the order of the day, instead of the disease, warfare, famine etc. etc. that we have been experiencing all these millennia.
But mankind was still suffering from the poisoned mind set of the fruit of knowledge of good and evil.
They all laughed at him. However there came the day when the rains started: at first drip–drip then a drizzle, then actual rain. “See I told you so”. “Oh you crazy old fuddy duddy we have rains many times a year every year what are you dithering about? In few hours it’ll stop as usual.” But it didn’t stop. Instead it got harder and harder, heavier and heavier. Then Noahh hit the steam whistle and told his family and private zoo “All aboard that’s goin’ aboard”. Then all the ‘invited guests’ scrambled in and HaShem shut and sealed the door. The rain got heavier and people started singing “Raindrops keep falling in my head”. The panic started. They realized “Crazy old Noahh” was right after all. A major destructive extinction level deluge was coming. “Hey we give up we’re ready to repent” “Too late folks the ship's leaving harbor, time for repenting was before the rains began, the time window for reception of repentants is closed.” “What can we do now?” “How long can you tread water?”
Okay all joking aside. That is a funny way of describing what went down. But we need to learn from that, as our ancient sages have warned us, the final end game will be like that. There will be “natural” warnings; there will be those who warn verbally. Those who listen will be saved, those who won’t – won’t. Pay attention that in the soon-to-come final cleansing there will be a time when it will be too late.
Folks don’t miss the boat.
I feel it’s also worth mentioning another point about the 7 Noahide commandments. Would that most, even not all, non-Jews observe properly those few commandments this world would be so much better a place. I’ll tell you something I feel is really sweet and beautiful. There are 7 Noahhide Covenant commandments and 613 commandments given to the Jews in the Sinai Covenant. Add that up to 620 which is gematria (numerology sum) of the Hebrew word Keter which means crown.
Understand the importance of that seemingly little point. Both covenants are between HaShem and mankind. HE is THE KING and humans are HIS kingdom subjects. When we together follow his Covenant Commandments we are recognizing HIS KINGSHIP by making HIS crown (620/Keter).
When you, yes little ol’ you, wherever you are, whatever you feel your status in the world is, can by merely making the commandments that are relevant to your covenant nation’s with HIM of the two, you – yes you – are partaking in the coronation of HaShem. Isn’t that great? Wouldn’t it be a pity to miss out on that? Wouldn’t it be great to be a part of that?
With those tidbits as food for thought I send to all of you my precious brothers, sisters, friends and students my blessings for
Shabbat Shalom Umevorakh and for a good new month.
Rav Yaakov B