Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Parashat Noah

G!d Learns

By Akiva The Believer

Verse Per Verse

Whaddya mean, G!d learns?
I thought G!d was perfect.
That everything is preordained.

I was taught that even though WE believe we have free will, in fact, G!d supposedly knows HOW we will respond.
And He knows it BEFORE we do anything. He sees all and knows all.

Excuse me, but that is NOT what the Holy Torah says. Not in THIS parasha.

Parashas Noah is my favorite portion of the whole Torah. Here we have the first inkling that the Torah is not just about us, the humans. It is also a journal about G!d.

G!D grows?

Let us go to the text:

"Now the earth had become corrupt before G!d." (Genesis 6:13.) Usually "corrupt" is explained as idolatry, immoral behavior and even robbery.

(Let us not stop to debate the pros and cons of what corrupt means. Let us grant that we humans somehow displeased our Creator in a fundamental way.) What is HaShem's solution?

"The end of all flesh has come before me...and I am about to destroy it (all flesh) from the earth." (Ibid.)

Great. We sin. We die.
Along with all living creatures, except the fish who couldn't drown.

Try explaining this to any child. They just look at you with wide uncomprehending eyes. Remember, not just the "sinners" drown. All living flesh ends. All. Every newborn, every puppy, every cricket, all. Some commentators try to tell us that in fact all flesh was, by this time, sinning. Not very believable.

Some folks, at this point, throw up their hands, in disgust, and say "I'm outta here. Keep your punishing G!d. I'm going East or maybe out of the religion racket altogether."

The key, I think, to this riddle, and to many other riddles, occurs AFTER the flood. After what is really the first Holocaust.

"G!d places a rainbow in the sky. "And G!d said,'This is the sign of the covenant that I give between Me and you and every living being that is with you, to generations forever......
"I will remember my covenant...
"And the water shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh." (Genesis 9:12-15)

I believe these words come to teach us that G!d has regret. That G!d acts, as we do, hastily, rashly and without full understanding.
I know this is very radical. But it explains so much.

Doesn't G!d flash anger and nearly destroy all of us all right after the Golden Calf? Doesn't Moses have to talk G!d out of doing just that? Again, G!d seems to show signs of regret or remorse.

I believe this is "Young" G!d. Or "Early" G!d. The G!d of black and white. The G!d who destroys as a way of teaching. The G!d of Judgment without Mercy.

So the rainbow is not just a reminder for us that the covenant exists. It is also for G!d. G!d is learning.....

Are we not in G!d's image? Why wouldn't our G!d, then be like us, learning, growing even suffering?
One of the reasons we pray is to offer solace or comfort to G!d.
That's why praying should always be done with kavana and not just by rote.

Do you wish everyone "Shabbat Shalom" or "Gut Shabbos" on Friday evening? What about G!d? Ever look G!dward and wish a silent blessing to the resting G!d?

When I wish Gut Shabbos to G!d I affirm that rainbow, that covenant. The Promise that reminds us all of Mercy, of Love, of Learning and of Growth.


  1. Lovely piece Akiva. Thank you. We're not sure however, that YHWH learns. She seems as capricious and hot-headed in Hazinu as in Noah.

    We say the gods are just quick tempered and violent, like the humans who created them.

  2. To my Holy friends Aaron & Sharon,

    I agree. Still pretty hot-headed by Hazinu. That's why
    every minute counts, every prayer counts. Every human counts, every creature counts.

    In the next instant there is always the hope for clarity, for insight, for growth for collaboration and one day, for Peace.

    Love, AkivaTheBeliever