I think I am going to keep the Tree of Knowledge Poll (see last week's post) open for a little while longer
The divrei torah in the foreseeable future will probably be shorter, unless I go on a rant or a tangent (which is likely).
In honor of Parashat Noach and the first anniversary of the first-ever coed busserfest I present: Evils of Vegetarianism
HereÂs my theory, sort of in jest. When humanity was created they were told they could eat only fruits and vegetables. The animals were only there for them to care for. People quickly became evil. Finally God decided to destroy them. After hanging out with smelly animals on an enclosed ark for an entire year, the first thing God told Noah and sons is that they can eat meat. Lack of meat is a cause of pent up evil. Only by eating meat can humanity get rid of their primal evil (or should I say primeval? No. No, I shouldn't).
DonÂt think Judaism is unique with its story of the destruction of humanity through a deluge. Most ancient cultures have their own flood stories, most famously the Epic of Gilgamesh told by the ancient Mesopotamians. I wonder if Iraqis still name their children Inkidu... or Utnapishtin
Well, I donÂt know of any Jews that name their kids Maher-Shalal-Chash-Baz (Isaiah's son, "Swift booty, speedy prey"). Um, anyway, I suggest you check out the other flood legends
Noah was righteous for his generation, but then again every other person in his generation was so wicked and depraved that God decided to destroy the world. He wouldnÂt hold a candle to Abraham or anyone else. Noah blindly followed God's commands without an argument. Noah, although the progenitor of all of humanity (due to the fact that he and his family were the only ones left) could not have been the first Jew. Abraham and Jacob (and to some extent Isaac) showed that they were able to argue with God. I will probably discuss this in two weeks time when I write the Dvar Torah on Parashat Vayera I will be delivering at my synagogue. Israel is not about submission. We have realized throughout history that we need to argue with injustice and not allow tyranny to bring us down. Abraham and Jacob struggle with God and end up with victories, Abraham's is verbal, JacobÂs is physical. But Noah does not challenge God's injustice. Instead he lives with it. After the rainbow promise and the Seven Noahide Laws are enacted, Noah discovers wine and suddenly becomes exceedingly drunk. This is righteous in his generation? Maybe the reason Jews hate pork so much, Noah's son Ham does something to Noah, anything from looking at him in his inebriation to taking too large a gratuity from a circumcision (gratuity: syn: tip. He Bobbitized his father, Okay?! (I'm not including a hyperlink for this one, if you don't understand, you're gonna have to look this one yourself)).
The Tower of Babel is interesting because it is an attempt by humanity to be closer to God. We as Jews try to emulate God all the time, such as in medicine (you shall be healers because I the Lord, your Healer) and in holiness ("You shall be holy because I the Lord am Holy"). Why then did God come down on the people of Babylon? My feeling is that they were seeking a physical God. Are the heavens directly above us or do they transcend the world as we know it? Since we discovered flight (and perhaps hot-air balloons count here) we have gone through the clouds. We don't run down winged angels playing harps; the plane gets a little wet and there's the inconvenience of turbulence. God was pissed at the people for thinking that He was like them, that they would be able to comprehend Him. The reason I use the pronouns He and Him are for lack of a better term. I too cannot comprehend God. Through the eating from the Tree of Knowledge last week (read last week, occurred many millennia ago) we gained the ability to know certain things without actually knowing them, such as the existence of a Creator. This is why we can "believe with perfect faith" certain things. We are able to rely on empirical evidence and blind faith. Nimrod and the residents of Babylon needed to know for sure. This is why they could not continue on their crusade of truth.