Ariel Ben Avraham

Parshat Noach: Idolatry as corruption, love as life

“The Earth was corrupt before God, and the Earth was filled with violence. And God saw the Earth, and behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted their way upon the Earth.” (Genesis 6:11-12)

What could be so damaged before God that its corruption is denounced three times in these two verses? It was life and its purpose before the eyes of the Creator. As we have said many times, life is the manifestation of God’s love, and its mission is also to be love manifest in all its dimensions.

This is what the Creator wants from us, to be and manifest His light, His will, His love. This is sealed in His first two commandments of the Decalogue.

“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall not have other gods before Me.” (Exodus 20:2-5, Deuteronomy 5:6-9)

When one denies this truth also denies his/her own existence and freedom, because in this denial other gods are acknowledged as real. These gods are ego’s fantasies and illusions that trigger negative trends and trends in consciousness as the idols that corrupt life.

Corruption means decay and decomposition associated with death. We can say that before the eyes of love, as the material manifestation of God’s love, corruption is indeed death. The first two blessings of the central Jewish daily prayers somehow reflect the first two commandments mentioned above. They refer to the Creator as “our God and God our fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob” (…) who is our “King, Helper, Redeemer and Shield. Blessed are you Lord, the shield of Abraham.”

These are some of love’s ways and attributes: to help, to redeem and to protect. Our patriarch Abraham is exalted in this blessing as the epitome of the loving kindness with which the whole creation is sustained.

The second blessing praises His might to “revive the dead, You have the power to save (…) You sustain the living with loving kindness, You revive the dead with great compassion (…) Blessed are You Lord, who revives the dead.” It is clear that the opposite of life is death, and God’s love removes death caused by corruption derived from idolatry.

In the times of Noach, his generation was dead before God because living in the illusions of idolatry does not make sense in the eyes of love as our true essence and identity. We have mentioned that our mystic sages say that water and fire represent cleansing, purifying and transformation, and not necessarily death or destruction as many of us believe.

We said in our commentary on Bereshit that the purpose of creation is to discover the Creator, and to know Him through His love as His light that created everything that exists. Then, why destruction should come from Him? We must understand that we have to go through transformation in the process of knowing the Creator, because revealing His concealed presence in the darkness also requires revealing Him in our consciousness.

If we don’t find Him within us, how can we find Him in His creation? In this context we must understand the Flood, the waters that cleanse our consciousness in order to know what is the truth.

The generation of the Flood was corrupted and already dead before God, and this kind of death had to be removed from the Earth. Even knowing that He is the “King who puts to death and restores to life, and causes redemption to flourish”, God wants us to choose life when we exercise our free will.

Even when He cleanses us by restoring life to us, He still endows us with freedom of choice; and free will makes possible to choose the idolatry of the lower levels of consciousness, after the Flood. Love as the material manifestation of God’s love is the permanent connection with Him, symbolized by the rainbow.

“And the bow shall be in the cloud; and I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is upon the Earth.” (Genesis 9:16)

Our humankind that flourished on Earth are the descendants of Noach.

“And the sons of Noah that went forth from the ark were Shem, and Ham, and Japheth; and Ham is the father of Canaan.” (9:18)

A new human being emerged with three main levels of consciousness. Shem represents the highest awareness of our connection with the Creator, symbolized by Jerusalem and its temple, and the Levite priesthood. Japheth represents the mind and thoughts related to the material world. Ham, “the father of Canaan”, represents the lower aspects of consciousness that we have to conquer and subjugate in order to be and manifest love’s ways and attributes.

“(…) a servant of servants shall he [Ham] be unto his brethren. And he [Noach] said: Blessed be the Lord, the God of Shem; and let Canaan [Ham] be their servant. God enlarges Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem; and let Canaan be their servant.” (9:25-27)

Let’s note that Japheth shall learn from Shem because all levels and dimensions of consciousness must follow our highest awareness of the Creator and His love.

As we have said in this blog, every aspect and expression of our consciousness was created to discover, to know and to proclaim the glory of God which fills all the earth. Our mission is to be aware of this principle.

Free will once more was exercised by this new emerging humankind, and ego’s agenda was again their choice.

“And they said: ‘Come, let us build us a city, and a tower, with its top in heaven, and let us make us a name (…)” (11:4)

A city and a tower that represent a consciousness of their own, with a mentality of their own separated from the Creator. Some of our contemporary sages define this period of history as the birth of the totalitarian mind that conceives ideologies such as Nazism, Fascism, Fundamentalism, and fanaticism related to political, religious or cultural beliefs that pursue the elimination of diversity in the human spirit.

“And the Lord said: ‘Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language; and this is what they begin to do; and now nothing will be withhold from them, which they purpose to do.” (11:6)

This is exactly what the Nazi ideology and other totalitarian regimes want, to impose a lifestyle that does not recognize God, but only gods of flesh and bones that they would call “the perfect superior race”.

The portion ends with the birth of two extraordinary human beings that redirected the course of humankind: Abraham and Sarah. Our oral tradition tells us that Abraham recognized the oneness of the Creator at the age of three, and ever since he rejected idolatry amid a family of idolaters, and under the rule of idolaters.

Abraham’s keen intelligence led him to conclude that everything comes from one Creator and sustained by Him. Hence we owe our existence to Him and none else, and Abraham was willing to die for this truth.

The midrash says that his own father accused him in a court of law for denying and rejecting idolatry, and Abraham was sentenced to death in a crematory chamber. Then man’s love meets God’s love, and God saved Abraham from the flames in front of his executioners.

God chose Abraham for His covenant, the covenant with Israel, his descendants. With Abraham and Sarah our history, Israel’s history, began.

About the Author
Ariel Ben Avraham was born in Colombia (1958) from a family with Sephardic ancestry. He studied Cultural Anthropology in Bogota, and lived twenty years in Chicago working as a radio and television producer and writer. He emigrated to Israel in 2004, and for the last fourteen years has been studying the Chassidic mystic tradition, about which he writes and teaches. Based on his studies, he wrote his first book "God's Love" in 2009. He currently lives in Zefat.
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