AND AFTER THE FLOOD…
I have been a rabbi for a lot of years. During that time, many urgent issues have appeared on the scene. And the rainbow has often been the “hook” upon which many of these issues have found their Jewish connection.
At one time, it was nuclear proliferation.
At another time, it was rain forest deforestation.
And global warming.
Each was a dire message of what was happening to the world.
For in this week’s parasha, we read the story of Noah. We all know the tale. The world is corrupt. The people are wicked. God decides to destroy the world. God chooses Noah to build an ark, to put two of every animal in the ark, along with his family. God brings a flood for 40 days, destroying all living things. After the flood, Noah releases a dove is released and brings back an olive branch, indicating that the waters are subsiding. When the ark hits solid land, the animals are released. God promises never again to destroy the world by flood. And God offers a rainbow as the sign of that covenant.
That’s the rub.
Never again would God destroy the world by flood. But God didn’t promise that it wouldn’t be destroyed by destroying our forests or nuclear armageddon or global warming or ecological disasters or…
So in the 80’s and 90’s and 00’s and 10’s of my rabbinate (and in the 50’s and 60’s and 70’s as I was growing up and going to school), this Torah portion was a constant reminder of the dangers we face. Not that God would destroy the world.
But that we would.
We are our own worst enemies, at times. We pollute our skies, our earth, our water. We brandish weapons with the power to – literally – wipe all humanity off the face of the planet. We permit our technology to destroy the delicate fabric of our earth’s atmosphere. We are on the brink of destruction equally massive as the Biblical flood of which we read.
We need a new covenant.
Perhaps the time is now for us to choose another symbol…a double rainbow. God offered one. We need to match it with another. This rainbow needs to be created by you and me. This rainbow shows that we are created in God’s image. Just as God offered a rainbow as a promise of life…so should we.
We need to commit to not destroying our world. Perhaps each of us should choose ONE effort to which we will dedicate efforts towards saving our world…however we understand that to be. Let us work on that for which we have passion. We don’t need to do it all. But we cannot sit by waiting for another (or God) to intervene.
I’m not sure what worries me the most. But I am going to think about it. And I will choose something to do, as my piece of the work towards saving our earth. What will you do?