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Daniel D. Stuhlman

Parashat Noah — Was Noah Calm?

(courtesy)
(courtesy)

Parashat Noah Oct. 28, 2022

The parsha is named for Noah, the main character.  His name, Noah, comes from the root, <לנח>, meaning “to rest” as in being calm or taking a nap.  Did you wonder how someone given a task by God that had never been done could remain calm?  There are people who can’t be calm when they take airplane or train trips.  There are people who are not calm when they entertain their friends.  Yet we don’t read about the psyche or state of mind of Noah?

In today’s busy world did you consider this morning, “When will I catch a break?  Will I ever get a vacation from life’ struggles?  When will the day arrive that I can go to bed, sleep through the night, wake up in the morning and just have a normal, calm day without any drama and people asking me to do more tasks than can be done in the available time?  When will I get a chance to get through the day with calmness and a clear head without feeling anxious, nervous, or without demands on my time?”

Do any of these questions sound familiar?   If not, congratulations, Mazel Tov, you are a supremely gifted person, a hero, or a child.  But if any of the questions connect to your life, then, you need answers, support staff, a parent, or lots of good news.

Noah—yes, the man who survived the flood—will be today’s example of a calm, well rested, superhero.  Yes, more like a comic book hero than a man with a mission from God. I can only imagine how nervous his wife was when she heard of the plan to build an ark to save the world.

Reflect on Noah’s life.  God was concerned that the world was corrupt, and he wanted to destroy the world.  Noah was righteous and designated as the one to save humanity and animal life.  Noah was not a random survivor and none of the chaos or the flood was his fault.  Noah knew that God wanted to make the world a better place. Noah’s save the world mission, was designed to restore a type of calm.  The evil people were destroyed and Noah’s second mission to repopulate the world

The business lesson is that in order to remain calm you must believe that the long-term goal is worth the effort. If the goal or mission is unclear, the process will be frustrating. Noah went through an extreme trauma. Hopefully we will never have a test that will require a world changing event. This week is the anniversary of my bar mitzvah parashah. While not world changing, it was a major life cycle change. Also, not earthshaking is this is the last week for the shul that I have davaned since 1976, KJBS. We are closing and the building has been sold. I do not know where everyone will be on Shabbat morning next week. I will be a shul closer to home. I will not have to walk for 20 minutes or more to get to shul.

KJBS traces its roots to the old west side of Chicago. When the minyan started in the Peterson Park neighborhood it met in someone’s basement. I will remember all the happy and sad occasions that we shared and the regular, normal times.  I remember when we did not have enough chairs and when we struggled for a minyan. My business lesson will not work because we have uncertainty. The organization has no plan. Can we remain calm?  We have options for other places to daven and hopefully we will find our places.

Discussion questions

1. Do you think the Noah story was edited to remove Noah’s struggles and frustrations?

2. How would you write into the story more about Noah’s frailty?

3. Give examples from your life that indicate how you remained calm?

Note:  After discussing this davar Torah with friends, I was reminded that Noah was depressed after the flood.  That is why he got drunk.

KJBS Oct 23, 2022 (Photography by Daniel D. Stuhlman)
About the Author
Lives in Chicago, Illinois USA. Academic and synagogue librarian for more than 40 years. Graduate of Columbia University in the City of New York, Jewish Theological Seminary, and Jewish University of America. MHL and DHL in Tanah. Gabbai Sheni of Kehilath Jacob Beth Shmuel in Chicago for more than 40 years.
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