Are you a watcher?


I saw the movie,


Spoiler Alert: A flood comes. The world is destroyed. Noah, his family, and two of each animal survive. The movie ends with a rainbow!

Leaving cinematography critiques to others, I was taken by a specific “midrashic” interpretation by the director.

In Genesis, it speaks of “b’nai ha-elohim,” literally “the sons of the God.” In the movie, they are portrayed as fallen angels, who call themselves, “watchers.”

In one scene, a Watcher tells Noah, “Strength comes from the Creator.”

I found it to be a compelling thought.

Both in the Biblical tale and in the movie, the world is corrupt. People saw their own strength and took whatever they wanted. The result was – as the Bible describes – lawlessness.

They – and so often, we – feel that strength comes from ourselves. We are all powerful. Some say: “We control our destinies. We can do whatever we want.” Others say: “We know what God wants. And we must do whatever God wants.”

I believe that God disagrees with both positions.

Now, I know there are many who do not believe in an omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent God. And to be truthful, my own ideas on God are complicated and filled with struggle.

But this I do believe: Real strength comes from both within and beyond. That strength of character that tells one what is truly right – not expedient, not self-promoting, not deceptive, but actions that are good and noble and serve to lift another’s plight. That strength comes from the Creator (whatever that might be).

In the movie, the Watchers (former angels) are condemned to lives encrusted in rock, horrible caricatures of their former selves. Only when they act selflessly, protecting Noah and his family, are they freed of their entombment and permitted to ascend back to the Heavens.

As we approach the holiday of Pesach, the story of freedom from slavery, what will we do to exhibit that strength of character? What will we do to cast off that which entombs us and keeps us from ascending to the heights of human dignity?

A Noah P.S.

Tradition has it that April 1 is April Fools’ Day because it was on this day that Noah sent doves from the ark to check for dry land before the flood had completely abated. (Actually, it was the first of Nisan, the first month of the Jewish year and roughly equivalent to our April.) This first dispatch, of course, was a wild goose chase, to use a fowl metaphor. Even though Noah might object to the implication that he was just fooling, the doves’ frustrated mission is commemorated in the April Fools’ tricks of today.