Cantor’s message for the Temple Newsletter for October 20th, 2023
Which Noach will save us this time?
This week’s Torah portion, Parshat Noach, contains the Hebrew word Hamas twice:
And the earth had become corrupt before God, and the earth had become full of HAMAS. And God saw the earth, and behold it was corrupted, for all flesh had corrupted its way on the earth. And God said to Noah, “The end of all flesh has come before Me, for the earth has become full of HAMAS because of them, and behold I am about to destroy them from the earth.” (Genesis 6:11-13)
We can translate that term as, violence, corruption, evil…
Another silly coincidence is that in Spanish, Hamas means, “never again”.
But, leaving these coincidences aside and speaking of Tikkun Olam, the improvement of the world on a humanistic level, it seems that there was never a flood, it seems that the earth was never cleansed of Hamas. Right? I mean, it seems as if humanity has gotten stuck in these 3 first lines of the Parsha, and we are living the same thing for millennia, like a loop in time.
This week the world has witnessed the crudest horror. It is easy to recognize the Hamas of our days, because in fact not even the name has changed. But… if history repeats itself in such a similar way, who then is the Noach who will cleanse the world this time?
Well, I feel that thinking that another Noach should arrive is a mistake. In any case, Noach’s figure is quite questionable: why didn’t Noach defend his people before the flood? Why didn’t he do like Moshe who asked for salvation for the people after the episode of the Golden Calf? So, God says “I’ll destroy your world” and Noach just answered, “no worries man, I have my hammer and wood ready, let’s build an ark!?” How is this possible coming from a righteous person?
A possible answer is in the Book of Zohar, which says that Noah didn’t correctly understand the meaning of the famous phrase from the Mishnah: “For me the world was created”.
A Rabbi and friend in Argentina used to say that we should all carry that phrase in one of our pockets, to see it daily and be thankful and happy for being alive and enjoying this world. But in the other pocket, we should have “For dust you are, and to dust you shall return” (Genesis 3:19) so as not to be selfish and petty.
The world was created for me, but also for you, for your neighbor, even for people who do not agree with you. There is no way that any type of fanaticism or terrorist extremism exists, understanding the value of these words, understanding that we all came from dust.
Honestly there is not much more I can add, my friends. These days have been devastating. The Clergy, we have been providing pastoral support 24/7 these days. And we will continue doing it as long as necessary. From a personal point of view, my goal at this time will continue to be to sow light, warmth and hope. Even when we feel overwhelmed with so much fury and meaninglessness.
In the name of our dead, in the name of those tortured and those still missing in Israel, we cannot turn a deaf ear to the call for justice. Justice that is far from revenge. Well, as the torah says
“You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against your people. Love your fellow as yourself: I am יהוה” (Leviticus 19:18).
The Jewish people have never taken revenge, but rather built. After the Shoah there was NEVER a massive attack by armed Jews against civil society. It would be unthinkable for us! We have not yet been able to demographically recover the 6 million souls that have been stolen. Instead, we decided to build a free, democratic and sovereign state for all the Jews of the world, so that we could live in peace.
This should be an example for future generations and for the entire world. Our people move forward, our people build. Our people only take up arms to defend themselves, not to destroy or cause harm to others.
May this month of Cheshvan that has just begun bring console, healing and kindness to our hearts.
Adonai oz l’amo iten, Adonai Yebarech et amo bashalom. May God grant strength to all God’s people; May God bless us with peace.
Am Israel Chai!