The Eternal saw a world filled with wickedness and acted to remove the evil with a flood After the flood God presented mankind with a series of laws (Noahide Laws) to help create a better world.
Since my last Torah message I observed two, seemingly unrelated events; the massive flooding in South Carolina and part of the discussion we had in our Torah study class. I saw relevance in both events to this week’s parsha Noach.
I am writing this after attending Torah study class where we discussed B’reishit. In B’reishit we read that God observed the chaos that existed before the world was formed. There was darkness and God said “Let there be light” and there was light. But, we know that the sun and stars didn’t exist until the fourth day…. Without the sun, this light couldn’t have been sunlight. So, what is the light of the first day? The sages of past concluded that this light was KNOWLEDGE … light for the mind.
So before creation, there was no KNOWLEDGE in our world, only DARKNESS or a lack of knowledge. Now the Eternal didn’t just change the DARKNESS into LIGHT. The LIGHT was slowly mixed into the world of DARKNESS. Slowly the KNOWLEDGE grew … just as with the sunrise every morning where the light of day replaces the darkness. Gradually, more and more of the world becomes visible as more light replaces the darkness….. With this in mind, one must realize that darkness is the natural state. The light is added – and can be removed – Then darkness returns.
It is the same with KNOWLEDGE. The empty world is the natural state. KNOWLEDGE is added and can be removed. Without the addition of KNOWLEDGE, there is DARKNESS.
Adam and Eve ate of the “Tree of All Knowledge” and saw all that was good and evil. But, their children didn’t see the light of “All Knowledge” and the result was the killing of Abel. After this incident, God punished Cain and the world knew that murder was wrong.
As the generations continued there was growing DARKNESS/lack of knowledge in the world. There was no power that told the people what was right and wrong. Mankind made more and more choices based solely on selfish desires…. Every man and women acted as if only personal desires mattered with no concern for the good of the community. This is the natural state of mind…. It is the way children act until they are taught the value of following rules and acting as a community.
This brings us to this week’s parsha, Noach. Noah lived in a world without rules. People did what was natural. Every man and woman acted only in their self interest. They saw Noah building an ark. They didn’t care…. Even if the knew the reason for this construction project…. They did nothing to change. It wasn’t in their immediate best interest….. When the rain came, they only tried to save themselves. They didn’t repent or work to save others.
This flood came to mind last week as I saw news reports of the flooding in South Carolina. It was called a “thousand year rainfall.” Sure, the water didn’t cover the total world… But, it was destructive and covered homes in many areas. It swept occupied cars and trucks into fast moving streams of water. It was a deadly force to anyone caught in its path.
But the reactions of the people in the modern world was different. Every effort was made to ensure the safety of the affected communities before the waters came. Most people used this knowledge to flee. But, others stayed and acted to save those in danger. In some cases, people took personal risks to rescue those in danger. The community acted as a community …. The laws, teachings, and actions of individuals saved lives…. I saw newscasts where people rescued from submerged cars actually called their rescuers angels.
Back to Noah’s world…. The Eternal saw that the world needed rules … KNOWLEDGE was introduced into a world filled with DARKNESS. This knowledge took the form of the Noahide Laws. All of the laws show below – with the exception of the sixth (Dietary Law) were introduced to Adam and Eve, but forgotten because they were not stated as laws or commandments. In this week’s text, the Dietary Law was introduced and the others were reintroduced as the world began again with Noah and his family.
Following are the laws designed to create a better world – the Noahide Laws….
- Prohibition of Idolatry: You shall not have any idols before God. (Gen. 2:16)
- Prohibition of Murder: You shall not murder. (Gen 4:11; 9:6)
- Prohibition of Theft: You shall not steal. (Gen 2:16; 6:11)
- Prohibition of Sexual Promiscuity: You shall not commit any of a series of sexual prohibitions including adultery, incest, bestiality, and male homosexual intercourse. (Gen. 2:24; 20:3)
- Prohibition of Blasphemy: You shall not blaspheme God’s name (Gen. 2:16)
- Dietary Law: Do not eat flesh taken from an animal while it is still alive. (Gen. 9:4)
- Requirement to have just laws: Set up a governing body of law (i.e. Courts) (Gen. 6-11-13) (Source Wikipedia)
As we continue through Torah, we see that light/KNOWLEDGE is replacing ignorance/DARKNESS as the Eternal guides the actions of the people toward a better world. This is the story of Torah…. This KNOWLEDGE is very evident and demonstrates the difference between the world of Noah’s flood and the world of the South Carolina floods of 2015.
Artwork from:Gustave Doré – The Holy Bible – Plate I, The Deluge -, first edition -1866