“Where are you going?” It was a question I was asked by many of my friends. And each time, the answer was the same. “I don’t know. But something is compelling me. I just have to go.” Invariably, when I returned, the first question was the same as the first, “Where did you go?” My answer? “Where I was supposed to.”
“Lech lecha”, go forth, comes the call from God to Avram, and with that begins a journey that, to paraphrase Neil Armstrong thousands of years later, was “one small step for a man, one giant leap for humanity”. Even more than humanity’s conquest of space and landing on the moon, the journey of Avraham Avinu, Avraham our ancestor, has influenced the subsequent course of human events.
Preparing for a journey of any kind can be daunting. So many questions guide our steps: With whom will I be travelling? What is the purpose of the trip? What will I need for my journey? What will the weather be like? Should I bring the laptop or escape from technology? The answer to each question leads to additional questions and actions to be taken. Until we have answered the questions and completed the actions, we cannot begin the journey.
A few years ago, some experts decided to degrade a planet which mythologically ruled the underworld, and reduced its dignity to a mere asteroid. Why? Because its orbit was erratic, a bit shifted and more elliptical than its other celestial brethren.
By: Rabbi Nir Barkin and Smadar Bilik, DOMIM – aLike Israel-Diaspora Project, a joint initiative of the Diaspora Ministry of the Israel Government and the Israel Movement for Reform and Progressive Judaism (IMPJ) The story of the Tower of Babel, which appears toward the end of this Torah portion, marks the end of the series […]
By: Rabbi Danny Burkeman, Rabbi at The Community Synagogue in Port Washington, NY. He is a previous member of the WUPJ Board and was formerly one of the Rabbis at West London Synagogue. He has a weekly Torah commentary “Two Minutes of Torah” available on iTunes and you can read more of his writings on his […]
We are all dismayed and appalled by the bad news coming out of Syria. Assad’s regime has most likely gassed its own people using Sarin gas. Its chemical formula was developed in 1939 by the Ig-Farben laboratories, the same which has developed Zyklon-B of cursed memory. “There is nothing new under the sun”, says Qohelet (1:9).
“Torah around the world” should be the name of this week’s Parashah, rather than simply calling it Noah. The colour and creativity of the story of Noah often overshadows the later elements of the portion which describe the settlement of the world by the children of Noah in chapter 10 of the book of Genesis. In fact, in the Reader’s Digest Condensed Bible (a real work, published in 1982), the chapter is removed in its entirety. However, this chapter is of much more than genealogical importance. It reminds us that we are here to connect with and learn from each other.
Parashat Noach tells us two stories that have haunted the Western imagination for over two thousand years, and remain chillingly relevant now. The images are iconic. Noach rides the flood with the entire gene pool of the planet huddled in the darkness beneath his feet, while the wreckage of the world floats in his wake. And the thwarted architects of the great City and Tower of Babel shout vainly into a blizzard of meaningless words, before scattering blindly in panic and despair, refugees of God’s displeasure.
The United Nations General Assembly has just completed its annual meeting in New York. It should be seen as a time when people come together to speak about common goals and peace. Inside the UN, some speakers call for cooperation, while others stoke the flames of hatred.