So, I decided to give you an abbreviated pictorial history of the story of NOAH! with illustrations from the Raise Your Spirits production of NOAH! Ride the Wave! for which I was producer and one of the co-lyricists, along with Arlene Chertoff and Toby Klein Greenwald. (Music by Mitch Clyman)
Ten generations after Adam and the creation of the world, "the earth had become corrupt before G-d" because it was filled with robbery and immorality. The immorality extended from the people to the animals, and even, some say, to the plants.
BTW, we are told that G-d despaired because of the robbery, which in Hebrew is the word, Hamas. Hm, coincidence??
There was someone who found favor in G-d's eyes. His name was NOAH, and he was a good person. G-d decided to create the world anew with Noah (above left) and his three sons and their wives (above right).
Hashem commanded Noah to build a giant ark (which took 100 years) and gather a sampling of every species in the world (below) into the ark.
Not one species was overlooked, and that was a miracle in itself (although there are plenty of jokes that the dinosaurs and unicorns missed the boat...). In fact, the animals walked into the ark two-by-two just like you've heard since you were a kid. It really happened. Another major miracle.
All the while Noah was building his ark, he was telling the locals that he was building an ark because G-d was going to bring a flood and destroy the earth because of man's evil, but Noah's warnings fell on deaf ears.
After sending the dove over a period of a week, finally the bird returned to Noah with an olive leaf in its bill.
The flood was over. A new world would be born. That olive branch has been a symbol of a peaceful new world since the time of Noah.
When Noah left the ark, he brought up an offering to Hashem from the kosher animals in the ark (that were brought along in greater numbersspecifically for that purpose).
Now, G-d gives Noah and his sons and all creatures the famous blessing (which had been given to the world in the time of Adam), "Be fruitful and multiply and fill the land." He also establishes a covenant with man and beast, never again to destroy man by the waters of a flood. The sign of that covenant is the rainbow. We look at the rainbow and appreciate its delicate ethereal beauty. However, G-d looked at it as a warrior's bow aimed away from the earth, as a symbol of His repressed anger. Every time we see a rainbow, it is a message to us that G-d is displeased with man, but He will not again destroy all life.
In addition, when we see a rainbow we should say, "Blessed are You, Hashem our G-d, King of the universe Who remembers His covenant, is trustworthy in His covenant and fulfills His word." (The "word" of not destroying the world - comforting to know that mankind had again done something that could have warranted extinction, eh?)
In the story of Noah, G-d gives man another chance. He is still giving us chances, and He is still hoping we will live up the expectations that He has for us. I hope we will too.
Now as we begin what we hope will be the wet wintery season in Israel, we pray for rain - not as much rain as Noah received, but a good geshmakt-shpritz now and then would be very appreciated.
(I believe the photos above all came from my camera. However if there's anything really fabulous, like the photo at left, which is of me in my role as the Giant Og, King of the Bashan, then it was taken by Rebecca Flash Kowalsky of www.imagesthroughtime.com .)
Happy Parshat Noah, everyone.
If you think those gals of Raise Your Spirits are wonderful (which they are), get ready for their new show, JUDGE - The Song of Devora (lyrics by Toby Klein Greenwald & Yael Valier, music by Mitch Clyman). It premieres at the end of this month, and you can find out more here: http://www.raiseyourspirits.org/.