Parashah Noach 2019 (Noah) Genesis 6:9 – 11:32

In this second parashah of the annual Torah reading cycle, we read about one of the best known biblical stories, one which is found in nearly every civilization: the Flood.

If you prefer to watch a video, click on this link: Watch the video.

God is fed up with the evil things mankind has been doing and finds Noah to be the only righteous man, so he tells Noah to build an ark and that he and his family will collect all the animals of the earth to save them from a flood God will send. The flood comes, the people are destroyed, and after about a year or so Noah and his family, as well as the animals that were saved, can come out of the ark and repopulate the earth.

The lineage of the sons of Noah is given, leading to the story of the Tower of Babel. The parashah ends with the lineage from Noah’s son, Shem, to Abram (not yet called Abraham) and his brothers, and the names of the wives they took while they were still living in Ur.

Here are a few interesting notes about the flood:

  1. Before the flood there was no rain;
  2. Before the flood people and animals were herbivores; and
  3. Noah didn’t have one pair of every kind of animal: he had one pair of unclean animals but 7 pairs of clean ones.

We all know this story and I feel led to talk about something that is a lesson we can learn from it regarding parenting skills.

In Chapter 9, we read how Noah, drunk from wine, passed out and was in a compromising position, meaning he was not just “four sheets to the wind”, but he was also butt naked. Now Ham, the youngest son, sees this and laughs about it with his brothers. Instead of showing respect for his father as he should have and do what his older brothers did (which was to cover their father), he made a joke about it.

For this show of disrespect, he was cursed by Noah and from his line of descendants, we have the perpetual enemies of the Jewish people.

I read in my Chumash that Noah may have become drunk because this was the first wine ever made, and Noah was ignorant of the intoxicating effects of it. Personally, I don’t by that for a moment. What I see in this part of the parashah is a lesson for all of us, and especially for those who have children still living with them.

What we do as parents, whether on purpose or accidentally, will be seen, remembered and probably repeated by our children. We shape them with everything we do and say, and if we don’t show them how to respect and compassionately treat others, they will grow up and have a very difficult time in society.

Parenting is the greatest challenge anyone can face. Besides the handicap we all face, which is either trying to be like or be unlike our own parents, the lessons that were imprinted on us from the moment we were born are not only difficult to overcome but sometimes nearly impossible to recognize.

My mother was a strict disciplinarian and believed in corporal punishment, but my father did not. Consequently, there were arguments between them and often I felt this was my fault. Children always think it is their fault when their parents are arguing, especially if it is over something that has to do with the child. I remember sometimes my Dad taking me to the garage, slapping his belt on something and telling me to cry out, so that my mother was satisfied and he was, too; obviously, I thought that was a really good compromise.

Noah’s actions resulted in Ham being cursed and his descendants, for all time, serving his brothers. Now, of course, Ham isn’t blameless, and the fathers can’t be held totally responsible for their son’s sins (the Bible tells us this in Ezekiel 18), but we can’t totally absolve parents of responsibility for what their children do because we, as parents, are the ones who are responsible to train them.

In today’s world, mostly in the last 40 years or so, parents have lost track of their obligation to properly train their children by wanting to be friends to their children instead of parents. They try protecting them from stress and problems, tell them they are OK no matter what they do, and even deny that the children are “problem children.”

How many times have you seen a news report where a young man has brutally attacked someone and the police report that he is well known for doing this, yet the mother says her boy is a good boy? Parents who enable their children and don’t have the time to spend with them because they are so tired from working has led to a society of uncaring, discompassionate and sinful children. And they grow up teaching their kids the lessons their parents taught them.

This has resulted in our society becoming what it is today: composed of self-centered, ignorant and overly sensitive youth who feel entitled to whatever they want. If I want something, not only am I entitled to it but you have to make sure I get it. And if you say something that bothers me, you are wrong; it doesn’t matter if it is true or if you are saying it for my own good, if I don’t like to hear it, you are wrong.

The world demands people to speak compassionately, but it doesn’t want to listen compassionately,

I will not delve into all the different proverbs about how the wise person receives criticism well because we all know that is true. The way we tell people something that might be distasteful to them should be done with respect and compassion, and when someone tells us something about ourselves, we should listen with respect and compassion, understanding that if they say something cruel or nasty or just too frankly, maybe they are having a hard time, too.

Parents influence their children, who influence not just their children, but every single person they will ever meet for the rest of their lives. The way we treat each other is something like a geometric progression, growing and spreading out like hametz in the dough. If my parents don’t teach me respect, then I will not respect others and my children probably will live the same way. As will their children, as will theirs, ad infinitum or until someone breaks the mold.

Maybe this is why God told Moses that he will punish the children for the sins of their parents down to the third or fourth generation. I think God isn’t saying that the children will be caused to sin, but that their parent’s sins will be learned by them and this might take three or four generations before the cycle can be broken.

Always be aware of how you treat your children, as well as when they see you interacting with other people; listen as you would want to be heard, and if you know you have bad habits you have picked up from your parents, try to overcome them.

Remember all that God has done for you and always try to act in a way that will please him because although the third or fourth generation will suffer for your sins, he also told Moses that he will have compassion on those that obey him to the thousandth generation.

Thank you for being here and please subscribe to my YouTube channel and my website.

I wish you all Shabbat Shalom and until next time, L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!


Parashah Tatzria (She Delivers) Leviticus 12 and 13

These two chapters continue in the sections of Leviticus that deal with cleanliness and uncleanliness. Chapter 11 started with food, Chapter 12 deals with the cleanliness of a woman after giving birth and Chapter 13 with skin disorders, specifically leprosy (in Hebrew it’s called Tza’arat.)

Chapter 12 says that a woman is unclean after giving birth just as she is considered unclean during her time of Niddah. Chapter 13 says that when someone is suspected of having Tza’arat, they must go to the Cohen to have him inspect it, he will determine if it is Tza’arat or not (the chapter outlines the diagnostic methods), then (if and) when the person is declared clean, what sacrifices are to be made to allow them back into the community and the Temple.

I am not going to discuss the specifics of what is discussed in these chapters because there is a more important issue that these mitzvot (laws) have generated over the centuries. That issue is about our questioning the reason for these laws. We ask why these laws are given; we ask if they are for health reasons (physical) or for religious reasons (ceremonial); we even ask if they are valid or necessary now that we have better standards of inspection for disease with regards to meat being sold and better methods of disinfection and disease control.

What I want to know is why?- why do we think we have the right to question God? What makes us think we can ask God “Why” He gives us laws, and even worse, question if God’s laws are really necessary or valid anymore.

I am not saying  we shouldn’t ever question God. That’s just silly. Job questioned God (of course, the answers fell on him like a ton of bricks, but he did get answers), Gideon questioned God, Moses questioned God, Abraham questioned God, ….get the point? The point is that all these great men questioned God, but not in a manner that raised doubts about whether or not God had the right to do what He did or whether or not what God said was valid or really necessary.

There are good questions for God, and there are bad ones. The good questions could be:

  1. Why do bad things happen to good people?
  2. What do you want from me? How can I better serve you?
  3. When will you answer my prayers?
  4. Who is the Messiah?

Then there are the bad questions:

  1. Why do I have to do this?
  2. Is this law really necessary anymore?
  3. Who are you to tell me I have to do this?
  4. If I am saved by the blood of Jesus why do I still have to obey these “ceremonial” laws?

Can you see the difference between these questions? If not I didn’t do a good job of giving examples- what I want to show is that we can question God about His plans and what He is doing and why He does things but when we question the validity of His laws or His authority to issue them, we are out of line.

Shaul (that nice Jewish boy from Tarsus who makes the tents) addressed this in his second letter to Timothy, 3:16:

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.

And in the Gospels, John 14:21  Yeshua tells us what it means to love Him:

Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them

And Yeshua also told us in Matthew 24:35:

Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away

All these scriptures point to the fact that God doesn’t change, and His word doesn’t change, and if we love Him we will do as He says not because it’s healthy, or for some arcane religious ceremonial need, but because we love Him. We do what He tells us as a labor of love, not as a forced activity to prevent going to hell. We do what God says without questioning His authority or reasons for giving these laws to us because He is God and we are not; He’s the boos, He’s the Man! He’s the one who leads, we are the ones who follow.

Isaiah 45:9 also addresses this issue of wrongful questions to God :

Woe to those who quarrel with their Maker, those who are nothing but potsherds among the potsherds on the ground. Does the clay say to the potter, ‘What are you making?’ Does your work say, ‘The potter has no hands’

We need to do what Yeshua said we should when He told us to change and become like little children, otherwise we will never enter the Kingdom of God (you can look this one up yourselves.) What He meant was that we need to accept, unquestioning and faithfully, what God tells us to do. How many times in the Tanakh do we read how Moses told the people to obey God to receive His blessings and life? Not just for them, but for their children, too!

I ask God a lot of questions, but I never ask Him to justify what He does or what He has told me I should do. That is just plain disrespectful, and certainly not faithful.

Do you love someone a lot? I mean, “fall down on your face and kiss the ground they walk on” love them? If you do, and they asked you to do something for them, would you ask them why you had to?

God gives us laws, regulations, ordinances and commandments- what’s the difference? Who cares? If you love Him and trust Him to tell you to do only what is good for you, then faithfully obey, do it as a labor of love, and trust that whether you can understand why God says to do something or not, He always tells us what to do because it is good for us.

Thessalonians 4:7-8  says this:

God has called us to live holy lives, not impure lives. Therefore, anyone who refuses to live by these rules is not disobeying human teaching but is rejecting God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you

Question God all you want about how to do those things He says to do better; question God all you want in order to serve Him more completely; question God all you want to help better understand His plans for you. But don’t question His authority, don’t question the validity of His commandments, and certainly don’t question God’s right to tell us what we should do.

God is our Father, we are His children, and children should do as their parents tell them. Proverbs says that when we teach our children what to do they will always return to that path. Believe it when I tell you that God only wants what is best for His children, and show that trust and love by doing as He says without questioning why.


Why Do You Love God?

Maybe we should ask, “Why do we love, at all?”

What is it that can create both a strong attraction, and then an equally strong revulsion, often at the same time, and with the same person?

Before we can answer why we love God, we first need to know why we love.

I guess that’s it for today, then…I have no idea how to explain, define or even make a guess at why we love.

Let’s try this from a different angle: let’s ask , “How should we love the Lord?”

I think I can do this one, especially because God tells us exactly how to love Him: we love the Lord by obeying Him. In Yochanan (John) 14:15 through to 14:26 Yeshua tells His Talmudim (Disciples) that if they love Him they will obey Him. He further says (I paraphrase here) that the love they show Him will be shown to them by God, and they will all be together. Also they will receive the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) as a comforter.

Let’s not get confused here, with regards to chronology: God loved us first and foremost.  Yeshua said that when we love Him we show our love to God, which makes sense since He also said, throughout the Brit Chadashah (Gospels, or Good News) that when we look at Him we see the Father, and to know Him is to know the Father. Loving Yeshua is loving God, but it was, always has been, and forever shall be that God, who forms us and knows us while we are still in the womb, loves us before we are even born.

God gives us Grace, forgiveness, and the rules telling us how to live and treat each other: these rules aren’t given so God can control us, they are given so we can become more holy and, thereby, be with God for all eternity. His laws and commandments aren’t really restrictions; in fact, they are the path to freedom and joyfulness. God blesses us when we obey (check Deuteronomy 28)  and His blessings are never ending. Maybe one of the reasons we love God is because of all the love He shows us. It is hard to dislike someone who constantly does good for you and shows you love and compassion.

However, since He is also the righteous Judge, when He disciplines His children (as all loving parents should do) we often turn against Him, reject and even curse Him.

I know when I was growing up my parents did the best they could for me- they had their own “demons” to overcome from their parents, and as I grew up I was very difficult, rebellious, extremely disrespectful and I did not feel love for them in any way, shape or form. It took quite a while, but when I was old enough and mature enough to understand them and where they were “coming from”, it made forgiving and appreciating them much, much easier. And I felt better about my relationship with them, too, because it had been reconciled. They are both gone now, but for years before they died they knew, and heard me say, I loved them. And for that I also love God, because He was a big part in my spiritual growth and maturity, and He showed me how to love. My love for the Lord is based on who He is and what He has done for me.

Loving God is not (and I think should not) be a romantic love- that’s just weird. As I said, I can’t define absolutely why we love someone or something, but I do believe the love we feel for God should be ‘above’ human love. It should be with respect and awe (doesn’t the one you truly love often inspire you, and sometimes just make you feel so proud to be loved by him or her?) and appreciation for all that He has done. We also need, as I did, to mature, emotionally and spiritually, so that we can begin to glean a little of the reasoning behind why God allows bad things to happen in the world, and bad things to happen to good people. It takes a very high level of spiritual maturity to accept that the gold must be refined through fire. Even though going through the fire is just a little less enjoyable than root canal without the benefit of anesthesia, those who love God with a mature, unselfish and spiritual love understand that the suffering and pain can be overcome by maintaining their loving trust in Him, which comes from the faithful understanding and acceptance that God only wants the best for us. It is that faithful trust and the love we feel for Him that strengthens us and enables us  to endure.

Why do you love God? If you haven’t asked yourself that question, you should. Is it only because of what He does for you? Do you feel love, or thankfulness? Do you accept God’s judgements, do you allow Him to make judgements and wait upon the Lord (as Proverbs says we should do?) or do you cry out for justice? Is it justice or revenge?

Or, would you rather be able to forgive as God does? As God commands we should?

Do you love God or do you just love what you want from Him?

The way God will know how much you love Him is to count how often you obey His commandments (He is talking about the ones in the Torah.) If you are obeying more than rejecting, then you are loving God. If you reject more than you obey, well….time to reflect on how much you want to love the Lord.

How many people scream out, “I love you, Jesus! Oh Lord! My God! How I love you!”, then they go home and do whatever they feel like doing, eat what they want to eat, and rationalize their sins.

I used to be a sinner who rationalized my sins; now I am a sinner who regrets my sins. It is that regret, my personal T’Shuvah, that enables me to obey God, and it is my obedience that demonstrates my love for the Lord. And it was His love for me that I (finally) came to recognize and accept, that made me want to love Him back.

Do you love the Lord? If you say, “Yes”, the next question you need to ask yourself is: “Does my obedience to the Lord show it?”