Noah Redux — it’s happening in real time, and the EU Tower of Babel

We all know the joke about the stubborn rabbi who, when warned to evacuate his synagogue because of an impending flood, chooses to remain at his house of worship.  He is resolute in his faith in the Almighty who will surely rescue him.

A police jeep comes by as the water begins to overflow the riverbanks, urging the rabbi to leave his shul, but he refuses.

As the surging waters flood the sanctuary, an emergency rescue boat pulls alongside the window. Urged to board, the rabbi once again declares his faith in G-d, and ascends up to the women’s gallery.

By now the water has reached the ezrat nashim and the rabbi climbs up to the roof, grabbing hold of the Star of David which decorates its peak.

A Coast Guard helicopter swoops down, dropping a ladder — the pilot pleads with the rabbi to board the chopper. But the rabbi remains adamant, and the helicopter departs

Finally, as he is drowning, the rabbi calls out to G-d: “ Dear G-d how could you abandon me when I showed such unshakeable faith in your benevolence?  And a voice from heaven responds; “Idiot, who do you think sent the jeep, the boat and the helicopter?”

An apt joke now that we are reading Parshat Noah, in which a flood figures rather significantly.

The waters of the flood in Parshat Noah were both devastating and benevolent.  Devastating to the evildoers in which they drowned; benevolent to Noah and his congregation who were both lifted and carried by the water — and which no doubt provided the ark’s passengers with everything they needed for drinking and bathing during their 40 day cruise to Ararat.

ותגברו המים ותשא התיבה ותרום מעל הארץ

“And the waters increased and they carried (va-yis’u) the ark, and it was raised (va-tarom) from the earth” (Genesis 7:17)

This is a strange phrase. After all, logically the vessel should first rise from the earth and only then be carried forward. The sequence of the narrative seems to be off.

I would like to suggest that the word for raised (ותרום) is not referring to any physical elevation.  Indeed such lifting would more likely use the root גבה “va-tigbah”.

The word “רום” implies a spiritual elevation. Indeed fresh, running water is the medium for purification and elevation, and no doubt served this very purpose in its purifying and elevating Noah and his community — even as the very same water served as the graveyard for a corrupt humankind. Hence the physical ‘carrying’ of the ark precedes its spiritual ‘elevation’.

And now back to our joke.

Why did G-d choose water as the means of destroying the wicked? There are vastly more efficient ways to wipe out sinners.  In Sodom, the Almighty deploys fire and brimstone.  In Egypt, He simply slays the firstborn. For Korach, He sponsors an earthquake. Why a watery death for the דור המבול, generation of the flood — when water is slow and highly inefficient?

To understand this it helps if we attempt to visualize what actually occurred. Here we have Noah with his ark — the doors are wide open, all are invited in, no tickets necessary.  Yet no one boards except for the immediate Noah family and their animals.

Now the rain did not come down all at once. It rained for 40 days and 40 nights. Which means humanity did not drown instantly. Indeed, the process was slow, giving people a chance over the course of 40 days to have a change of heart and, for at least some of them, to seize a life ring and make it on board the ark.

Yet not one person did so. In a sort of inverse act of emunah, they behaved like the rabbi in our joke, clinging to their belief in themselves, convinced they could survive on their own, persisting in their narcissistic stubbornness until the last of them was terminated.

Today things are a bit different.  Once again it is raining out there — although this time it isn’t water. And once again there is an ark, only this time it isn’t a boat.

It’s raining in America and it’s raining in Europe, especially for Jews — terror, crime, pathological materialism and greed, economic anarchy, emotional and biological illness, the rapid and irreversible erosion of reason and stability. And now, of course, the flooding of Europe by millions of refugees who are likely to change life in Europe forever.

To those of us with a more theological bent, this is a reprise of the Noahide flood, as a righteous God punishes 2000 years of murder and mayhem against the Jewish People culminating in the Shoah for which Europe clearly has shown no remorse.

The ark is, of course, the State of Israel.

It may seem paradoxical that Israel, of all places, is the safe haven. After all, the blame for so much of the world’s sickness is placed at Israel’s doorstep.  If only Israel would give up territory ….  If only Israel would stop mistreating the Arabs …  If only Israel would relinquish its nuclear arsenal …  If only Israel would allow Hamas to have free access to weapons …

Israel’s irrational insistence on protecting itself is rewarded with everything from near-universal condemnation to threats of annihilation.  Yet, in truth, Israel is the safest place to be. Yes, Israel may be the unwilling catalyst for the brewing global storm that is already underway. But in strategic terms, this means Israel is the eye of the hurricane – ultimately the only relatively calm and safe place to be as the rest of the world succumbs to the tempests.

(And, let is be noted, Israel actually has the jeeps, boats and helicopters. And if this is not a miracle, what then is? For Jews to have the means to defend themselves is a miracle because it goes against nature. No wonder the nations hate us. They KNOW that Jews and guns are as unnatural together as mink coats in the tropics. They know that the era of wheedling nudnik shtadlanim bowing and scarping for scraps of survival is over. Hence they understand, in their dim and benighted way, that they are in trouble with these latter day Jews, which explains their renewed anti-Semitism. Now if only Jews would recognize the miracle for what it is.)

Sadly, our fellow Jews in the Diaspora are divided between those who echo the wicked citizens of Noah’s time and those who echo the idiotic rabbi in our joke.

The former believe in themselves, in reason, in assimilation, in intermarriage, in their ability to blend out to the extent that their genetic coding will go unnoticed even if this requires self-hatred in extremis, as is so common today in Europe and the UK.

The latter believe that, between their money and their faith, G-d will save them, or at the very least enable them to flee to Israel at the very, very last minute — after they have sold their businesses and homes; after their children are too old to be drafted into the IDF; or at the very least, after they have enough money saved up to set themselves up for life in “Eretz Yisroel”. But ask them how much is enough and they can never seem to come up with a figure.

The picture isn’t pretty. Our people are divided between the ‘dor ha-mabul’ (the generation of the flood), and the fools who believe that miracles have to look like miracles rather than come disguised as jeeps, boats and helicopters. And Israel certainly does not look like a miracle, unless you stop and think about what it is and how far it has come, and where it stands in terms of quality of life and quality of Jewish life.


And now a few words about the Tower of Babel…

As the parsha tells us, the different nations were living in what we would consider utopia.  They all spoke the same language and were united as one in their effort to build the ziggurat that would reach the heavens.  One would think G-d would love this. Can there be a better example of peace on earth and good will among men?  Why would the Almighty rock the boat? Why wreck a good thing?

Yet what does G-d do?  He scrambles their tongues and makes them unintelligible to one another.

We, today, live in the post-modern era.  The mantra is “one world”.  Europe, after thousands of years of cross-border wars, inter-tribal hatred, and regular orgies of mutual mass murder, has emerged into the sunshine of unity. Now there is a European Union and a single currency to unite most of these once-warring barbarians. Everyone has kissed and made up. They have reverted to the pre-Babel utopia.

Or have they?

The beauty of our world is in its diversity. Would we want a single species of flower or a single genus of trees, or a single style of architecture for the entire world? Obviously not.  Differences, like competition, are what make life interesting and progress possible.

The “alle Meschen wurden Bruder” liberal Zeitgeist, which almost overnight re-defined the European mindset (and concomitantly resulted in the unleashing of a new and extremely virulent strain of anti-Semitism, one which even afflicts many secular European Jews), is fraying and unraveling as quickly as it appeared.

Even as I write these words, France is predicting terrorist attacks in England, while England predicts the same for France and Germany.  Sweden is already sinking under the twin-burdens of its problematic immigrant minority and an arch-liberal ethos that prevents them from doing anything about it.  Ditto for Germany and France where the velocity of the immigrant takeover is just a tad slower.  Little Holland is finally showing some gumption, and attempting to stick its finger in the dyke to prevent itself form drowning in a tsunami of Islamo-fascism.  But it is likely too late. England, which perfected the art of appeasement, is saddled with a homegrown mob of Islamist extremists who are no longer controllable by Scotland Yard or the vaunted British Intelligence. A desperate British nation — especially its liberal Labor faction ­- resorts to pandering to Israel’s g in the hope against hope that this ultimate act of appeasement will spare them.  But it won’t.

And so the neo-kumbaya spirit of rallying around a single flag and a single currency with its headquarters in Brussels is coming undone because this not the way G-d wants things, and it is against His People.

Which brings us back to the eye of the hurricane; Israel. Not that I expect any of what I’ve said to have the slightest impact. Sadly, the liberal Jews are increasingly on the Israel-bashing bandwagon, while the frum ones are too busy counting on God to protect them.

About the Author
J.J Gross is a veteran creative director and copywriter, who made aliyah in 2007 from New York. He is a graduate of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and a lifelong student of Bible and Talmud. He is also the son of Holocaust survivors from Hungary and Slovakia.
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