United Hebrew Congregation, 13788 Conway Road, St. Louis, MO 63141 | 314-469-0700

October 23, 2020 – Noach

Shabbat Message from Rabbi Brigitte Rosenberg

Parashat Noach, Genesis 8:15-10:32

This week’s parasha, Noach, is a familiar one to most of us. It is the story of Noah (Noach in Hebrew), the man called upon by God to build an ark. We are told that Noah was righteous in his generation and that God was concerned with the behavior of the world, so the decision was to destroy it with a great flood. Noah builds the ark, brings aboard his family and at least a pair (actually many more, depending if the animal was “clean” or not) of every animal, bird, bug species on earth. When I tell the story, I focus on the 40 days and nights that it rained, always assuming that the occupants of the ark were able to disembark shortly thereafter.

As I read through the parashah this week, I was struck by the actual amount of time that they were all on the ark. Yes, it rained 40 days and 40 nights, but from start to finish – getting on the ark to getting off it, it was about a year and a month!! Can you even imagine?!?!

What strength, resilience, and patience they all must have had to get through that time in their lives, that of being on the ark and of imagining what the post ark world would be for them. Did they have days where they absolutely hated being on the ark? Being stuck with their small family of 8 and what I assume were thousands of animals (if we’re thinking about every species and multiple sets)? I’m sure. And yet, there were probably times that they were so thankful they had each other, and perhaps times they were even thankful for the distraction of the animals.

I would venture to guess that after the past seven months, most of us can imagine what Noah and his family must have felt being on that ark for so long. Perhaps on the ark the initial 40 days and 40 nights were filled with excitement and adrenaline.  Many of us experienced a bit of that as the pandemic began, but after the initial storm, like Noah, we’ve been riding the waves, moving toward an unknown future, wondering, “what’s next?”

When Noah and his family emerged from the ark, it was their task to rebuild the world. This, too, is our task. What will the post COVID world look like? Will it look as it did seven months ago? Or have we changed and now imagined new and different possibilities for ourselves and our world? We don’t have to have the answers right now, but instead of looking backward, toward the world that was before. . . maybe it’s time to take a step or even a leap forward, dreaming and thinking about what could be?? Almost anything is possible when you put your mind to it!

As we welcome in Shabbat, I share with you “The Keep Going Song,” by the Bengsons, which has been in my head all week. It leaves me filled with a sense of hope – that no matter what I’m feeling day to day, there is always tomorrow, if I just keep going, moving forward.

May each of us keep moving forward, in whatever way we can. May we not only dream and imagine the world as we want it to be but do the work, step by step, day by day, to make that world a reality!

Shabbat is a perfect way to pause, reset, and then move forward into the future. I hope you’ll join us tonight for services, Saturday morning for Torah study, and then morning services. Tomorrow afternoon a new Mussar class begins, and finally, we end Shabbat with Next Week, Now.

Shabbat Shalom.