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Noah: The Flood and the Rainbow
Video 17 of 22
All three of these things, one, and two, and three, when things really work well all three of these things are working in concert with one another. So we've spent some time right now looking at the intertextual parallels between the rainbow and the Sabbath, we're going to come back to that. We spent some time looking at chiastic patterns in the rainbow and Sabbath, we're going to come back to that too. Let's spend some time looking at the content of the Sabbath, and just kind of asking these questions about it and let's try and attack it from then. Then I think we'll be able to come back and look at these structural elements and see how all of this kind of flows together.
Let's begin with some questions on the idea of the Sabbath as it's portrayed in the Biblical text, and I just want you to kind of lay back and imagine if you never heard of this idea of the Sabbath. And there was this notion that okay - let's say you accepted the Bible's portrait of things, that the world was created in six days by this omnipotent G-d, this all-powerful G-d, and then there's this holiday, G-d takes off and celebrates this holiday. The holiday is on the seventh day G-d rested and then forever more in the Torah, in the Bible, G-d commands His people that they're going to rest every seventh day like G-d rested after G-d finished creating the world. So if you just think about that notion there are some strange things about it. Here are some strange things.
Idea number 1 is why would an infinitely powerful G-d really need to rest after creating the universe? Was G-d tired? As difficult as this seems, as immense as the universe is, each one of these stars, millions of times the size of our earth, and this thing seeming huge and amazing and our insignificance is something which is something to shudder at. If you think about it, someone once gave the analogy - I think correct - but if you filled the entire Grand Central Station with dust, we would be - our earth would be one speck of dust, hardly one speck of dust in the universe. But if you would imagine how difficult would be for an infinitely powerful G-d to create such a thing, it wouldn't be difficult, you're infinitely powerful. So does G-d really need to take a breather? Does G-d really need to rest after creating the universe? It just doesn't sound like something an all-powerful G-d would need to do. So why did G-d feel like He had to take a break after six days? So that would be question number 1, why would an infinitely powerful G-d need to rest after creating the universe?
What other questions are there? What other questions do you have when thinking about the idea - the Biblical idea of G-d taking a break and resting and having this day off after creating the universe and celebrating that day off?
You play G-d for a moment. Let's say you created a universe in six days, and let's say you wanted to make a holiday that you're going to command these poor, mortal human beings you've created that they're going to celebrate this holiday. They're going to celebrate the idea of your creation. You've created this universe, you want them to always remember that you were the creator, you created the universe. They're going to have some sort of holiday to celebrate that. How would you ask them to observe that holiday? One day a week you're going to do what G-d did, you're going to remember G-d having created the universe, what should people do on that one day a week?
Well, I don't know about you, if I was playing G-d, if I wanted to celebrate my creating a universe I would ask them to create something in commemoration of what I created. You can have everybody making these papier-mâché globes and once a week everyone would make these papier-mâché globes and they'd finish, they'd hold them up and they'd say, wow we created this. It's the symbolic representation of the whole earth and yay, look at us. We'd all put that as a centerpiece on our tables, we eat this great feast. Something like that, it would be nice, it would be inspiring and everyone would think - no one would think this is crazy, everyone would think this would be a great idea.
But if you think about what we're doing instead, we're doing exactly the opposite of that. Instead of asking people to create something symbolic, we're asking people to rest. Why? Because G-d rested. Rest because G-d - and maybe that sounds normal because that's just the way we come to understand what the Sabbath is, but it is kind of strange. If you take it out of the theological context for a moment, you make an analogy from normal, everyday life. Let's say that we were a city council and we were all getting together and we want to celebrate something like Rosa Parks Day, that day that Rosa Parks courageously resisted the racist policies of her time forcing blacks to sit on the back of the bus, and she stood in the front of the bus and sat there. We wanted to do something like we are all going to have a Rosa Parks Day, so one day a week or one day a year the city council says everyone is going to get together and do some sort of symbolic act to commemorate Rosa's heroic ride. What would we do?
Right, so you can imagine the city council debate, people would say, well, why don't we have everybody get on these buses and crowd onto these buses and crowd onto the front of the buses, and no one is going to sit in the back of the bus. Then these buses, careening all over the place, laden down with people in the front of the bus, and no one sitting in the back of the bus and that's what we would do. [Would it 6:39] make a lot sense. It wouldn't be so good for the buses, it would cause some traffic problems. But it would make sense as a way to commemorate Rosa Parks Day.
But imagine some guy in the back of the room, some guy over here says, no, I have a great idea, here's what we should do for Rosa Parks Day. Instead of having everybody stand up on these buses and stuff we should actually have people go home and take naps. Why should they take naps? Well it turns out that after Rosa's historic ride, Rosa was very tired, Rosa went home and she actually took a nap. So we too should be like Rosa, let's take naps because Rosa took a nap after her ride. I mean, we would think this is crazy, this is insane, this makes absolutely no sense. But this actually wins the day. The nap wins the day. This is actually how Rosa Parks Day is celebrated. This is actually the Sabbath. G-d, after creating the world, so He went and took a nap, so we too should take naps. It seems insane. We're not celebrating the nap, we're celebrating the creation. It just doesn't seem to make any sense.
So the answer to this question, I think, is something equally astounding. I'm going to give you an answer but the answer is just every bit as astounding as the question. The answer is that if we think about it carefully - actually if you look back at the Biblical text - the Sabbath actually does not commemorate G-d's creating the world, it is not about G-d's creating the world. If you look at the text that is not what the Sabbath commemorates. The Sabbath commemorates something else. Here's the text, read it carefully, what does the Sabbath really commemorate?
Well; Vayechulu hashomayim veha'aretz v'kol tzeva'am - the world was finished - I'm reading that from Genesis Chapter 2 - the world was finished; Vayechal Elokim bayom hashevi'i melachto asher asah - G-d finished on the seventh day and He rested on the seventh day from everything that He made. Now listen carefully; Vayevarech Elokim et yom hashevi'i vayekadesh oto - and G-d blessed the seventh day and He sanctified it. Now you're about to get the reason; Ki - because - it's going to give you the reason. The reason that G-d blessed that day and sanctified it; Ki bo shovas mikol melachto asher barah Elokim la'asot - because on that day He rested. The reason why G-d treats this day so special is actually because G-d rested. G-d is actually commemorating His rest on the day, not actually the creation. So what the Sabbath actually commemorates is not G-d's creation of the universe, interestingly enough, but G-d's rest. G-d Himself is commemorating His rest.
But then the question is, well what is so important about rest that it should be commemorated? Who cares about rest? I would say it's theologically significant that G-d created the world, you want to have a holiday that G-d created the world makes a lot of sense. A holiday about G-d resting after creating the world, that's the incredible thing that we're celebrating? Why celebrate rest? It doesn't seem to make any sense. What is the big deal about rest?
That, I think, is the great question that we need to figure out to understand what's happening at the most basic of levels in the Sabbath. There are a couple of other questions which I want to entertain with you about the Sabbath, let's come back and put them all together, I'll see you in our next video.
1. Water, Water Everywhere
2. Parallel Universes
4. The Sixth Day
5. Brave New World
6. Noah's World
7. Is There a 'Sabbath' in Noah's World?
8. Sabbath Echoes
9. Rainbows Have Seven Colors
10. A Bow In the Clouds
12. Chiasms: More Than Just a Pretty Face
13. Colors of the Rainbow
14. Numeric Centers; Thematic Centers
15. Taking Stock: Where Are We Now?
16. Sabbath's Center
17. How Tiring Was It To Create a World?
18. Rest As the Purpose of Work?
19. Positive Rest
20. What If a Parent Never Lets Go?
21. Conclusion: Two Ways to Destoy a World
22. Epilogue: Why the Rainbow Covenant is a Two-Way Street (Premium)
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