Each week a different section or parsha of the Torah, that is Hebrew Bible or five books of the Torah, is read. This week is the Noah parsha. There have been innumerable interpretations of the Bible, and it is, in particular, this feature that makes this text such a wonderful piece of writing to study. Let me offer my take on this segment of the Bible.
As we all know, Noah and his immediate family are forewarned by God to build an ark that will save them from the flood. Subsequently, God creates a rainbow in the clouds as a reminder for him to deal better with His own anger and to never again destroy the entire human race. God’s anger cast upon the world serves as a wake-up call for humans to recognize the danger of uncontrollable anger. As a cognitively trained therapist, I do not believe in the cathartic release of anger as a healthy coping mechanism. Anger can be avoided in most situations, if people do not suppress the daily stressors of life, but rather deal with them as they arise. It is far better to discuss disagreements with one’s partner, openly, rather than to keep them inside oneself only later to explode.
Generations after the flood waters recede, the people erect the Tower of Babel with the goal of reaching up to the Heavens. It is a time epitomized by human hubris when human life is less important than the clay and brick materials used to erect the Tower. God does not destroy those that are blasphemous like he chose to do with the more extreme evil that existed before the Flood. Rather, he will disperse all of humanity throughout the earth causing them to speak different languages. Perhaps the lesson here is that one opinion, exemplifying uniformity, held by the creators of the Tower is not the best way of adapting to the daily challenges of life. Diversity brings an increase in the ways that people can approach common barriers or problems.
America was founded on the principle: E Pluribus Unum. This Latin phrase means out of many one. It was the guiding foundation that brought the colonists of the original 13 states together to declare their independence from Great Britain. No doubt those from the North and the South had very different temperaments and dispositions, but they understood the importance of uniting as One, if they were to free themselves from British rule.
We are currently facing a conflict between the political Right and the Left where neither side wishes to engage in meaningful talk with one other. Social media is inflammatory inasmuch as it packages the news in a way that confirms preexisting biases resulting in exacerbating our differences. This makes bridging our polarities that much more difficult to do. The late Rodney King asked: “Can we all get along?” I am not ruling out that possibility but, as George Orwell put it, “in a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.” My hope is that the election will bring America a leadership that will allow for greater transparency and honesty than what we are presently experiencing. If this occurs, an act of revolution will not be necessary to change the structure of our government that was founded on democratic principles.