We must ‘go forth’ in love

Published November 16, 2016

by Ari Plost, Rabbi, Congregation B’Nai Abraham

As we go forward in our journey, some of us are afraid, some hopeful, and we are everywhere in between. During such times, it is sometimes helpful to look backwards in order to look forward.

Last week, we Jews found ourselves in a section of Torah where we read of the great flood. What lessons from this difficult stage of last week may have led us to hear this week’s call to Abraham, “Abraham, go forth to the land I will show thee?” What did we learn from the flood, that brought us to the dawn of optimism?

Noah, despite all of his efforts and planning, does not enter into the ark until the first drop of rain had fallen. The sages debate why does Noah wait until that first drop? Does Noah not believe that the deluge will come?

It is one thing to build an ark. It is another to know you are going to have to use it.

With all of our incredible achievements to better our world, with all of our might and intelligence, we sometimes may need a reminder that we are indeed on a sacred pilgrimage.

We might ask why is Noah selected by God from those of his generation for his chosen task? One ancient commentary suggests that God chooses Noah because of his awesome ability to care for all the creatures. One commentary shares how little sleep Noah received and how challenged he was by all their eating habits. Another teaches how a lion bit him when he was late in his feeding.

As awesome as the work of building an ark, maybe Noah had some humble awareness that taking care of his fellow creatures was a truly daunting task. Noah might well have been aquainted with the prayer that begins, “When we are weary and need of strength, when we are lost and sick of heart…” We creatures of the Divine Image have very earthly needs and Noah believed he was responsible for them all.

We are each other’s protector and shield. We are each other’s brother and sister. We are each other’s keeper.

Today, as we take a step towards the future, some dreams may feel more remote than yesterday. It is the empathy, love and support that Noah demonstrates in the ark towards God’s creatures that eventually leads to the repair of the world. Without Noah’s compassion and care, would Abraham ever have heard God’s promise?

All who are inheritors of the book of Genesis are both the children of Noah and of Abraham. We are all God’s children even while we have a purpose that is our own. This is something to remember as we come together despite our differences.

The drop of rain has fallen. Let it be both the tear that comforts us and the sustaining force that guides us to, “Go Forth!”

God Bless.

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