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Noah: The Flood and the Rainbow
Video 6 of 22
We've also suggested that these worlds are different from each other, they are not actually the same. One of the principle ways in which they differ has to do with our relationship to the environment and principally, our relationship to the animal world. In world number 1 we have dominance over the animal world but we can't eat them, in world number 2 that changes, we're allowed to eat animals. We were wondering what accounts for this difference? How come these two worlds are different?
So I want to suggest to you a theory - a theory that was first shared to me by a friend and colleague of mine, Rabbi Simcha [Baer 1:14] who lives in Baltimore. Let me - if I can - just build up to you some of the evidence for the theory without - before sharing the theory with you as to why these two worlds are different and why it is that the differences manifest themselves as they do. In order to that I want to entertain another question with you and it's a difficult question, it is this. In the aftermath of the flood G-d promises that He'll never again destroy the world - the text for that is right over here. G-d says in His heart, I won't again curse the ground anymore for man's sake, because the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth. G-d sort of concedes that mankind is just going to be evil and that's sort of the way it is. The question is, how does G-d know that we're never going to be that bad again that would necessitate complete destruction? If G-d did it one time who is to say that He won't do it again? How does G-d know we'll never again become that bad?
Now if we look more carefully it actually seems that G-d is not promising that we're never again going to become that bad, G-d actually is saying that no matter how bad we become He's not going to destroy the world. I will not again curse the ground anymore for man's sake, because I just realize that mankind's heart is evil from his youth. I can see that that's the way it's going to be.
But here's the problem, let's look at G-d's original reason for destroying the world, if you go back before the flood and examine what the Bible has to say about the reason why G-d destroyed the world, you'll find a fascinating thing. G-d says; The L-rd saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart were only evil continually. G-d looks at mankind's heart and said, gee, boy they sure are bad. G-d saw how evil man was, saw that evil was something which preoccupied man and decided because of that to destroy the world. Well here's the problem, the reason for never again destroying the world seems to be virtually the same. G-d says in His heart, I'm never again going to curse the ground anymore, because the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth. How could the reason for never again destroying the world be the same reason for destroying the world? Like if you knew that that was the reason to never again destroy the world, then why did you destroy it in the first place? This is a very, very perplexing question. If G-d is willing to concede to man's evil over here, then why destroy mankind because of that evil?
So Rabbi Baer's theory is that the answer to these questions has to do with the nature of the worlds. The world has changed, it's almost as if you can split the world in two, this world is a different world than this world. The difference is not just in whether or not we can eat animals - that's what we saw before - there's another difference too. This world, the world of creation, is susceptible to destruction because of mankind's sins. This world, the world of re-creation, is not susceptible to destruction because of mankind's sins. There's something about the world that means it's not going to be destroyed because of what we could do. Why? What is it about the world that doesn't allow it to be destroyed? What happened? How come this is so much more of a fragile world than this is? How come this world has so much more endurance?
You know one possibility could be that when this didn't work out so G-d said I better make a hardier world, I'd better make a world that's stronger in order to endure the effects of mankind's sins. You could say something like that.
But I think a more subtle, fascinating possibility may well be warranted here, and let me try to build the case for it. Let's go to another little piece of evidence here. I want to take a look with you at some dates here, at a progression of dates. Some dates that mark the coming of the flood. Take a look at this verse; this verse which sort of pre-announces the flood. V'Noach ben shesh-me'ot shanah vehamabul hayah mayim al ha'aretz - Noah was 600 years old when the flood of waters was upon the earth. That's statement number 1. Here's statement number 2. In the six-hundredth year of Noah's life, in such and such a month, in such and such day, on that day all the fountains of the deep were opened and the windows of the heavens were open, and the flood came upon the earth. Here's date number 3, after the flood, the drying up of the waters. And it came to pass on the six-hundred-and-first year of the first month, in the first day of the month, that the waters were dried up from upon the earth and Noah removed the covering of the ark.
In each one of these dates we keep on talking about these 600 years, and yet there's a fascinating difference, there's a progression in how we're treating those 600 years. I want you to look at this, see, can you find this progression? How is the way that the 600 years are being treated differing from one date to a second date, to a third date? What is developing here?
Okay so how are these dates different? Verse number 1; Noah was 600 years old when the flood of waters was upon the earth. What are you focusing on? What you're focusing here, what you're telling me about, is you're telling me about Noah, how old was Noah, Noah was 600 years old. Then you're telling me this event happened, there was a flood. Over here you're not telling me about Noah, you're telling me about the flood. In the six-hundredth year of Noah's life, that's when the flood happens. So the subject of this verse is the flood, the subject of this verse is Noah. All of a sudden the time stamp for the flood is the six-hundredth year of Noah's life. If you want to find out when the flood happened, flood happened in the six-hundredth year.
This kind of process of moving away from Noah to an objective account of the time stamp of the flood reaches its culmination in the third date; And it came to pass on the six-hundred-and-first year, in the first month, on the first day of the month, that the waters were dried up. Hello? What happened to Noah? Where's Noah? The six-hundred-and-first year of what? From creation? No. Not from creation, from Noah. But you don't even have to bother telling me Noah, we know we're talking about Noah. What's happened is that Noah has become the standard. Noah has become the standard for time itself. Time is now judged - the objective marker of time, sort of that atomic clock sitting there in Geneva, is now Noah's life. In the world of creation you counted time from creation, in this world you're counting time from Noah.
So now the question is why would that be? Why all of a sudden are we counting time from Noah? Is it just that he's the only one around, so he's a convenient marker of time? Could be, but it also could be that something more fundamental is happening. And again, Rabbi Baer says, take a look this. Who closes the door on the ark before the flood? Somebody has got to be the last one to turn out the lights, who closes the door on the ark right before the flood, when the rain starts coming? Well if you look at the verse; And they went in male and female and all flesh as G-d commanded them and the L-rd shut them in - Vayisgor Hashem ba'ado. So G-d over here is the one who closes the door on the ark. Who opens the doors on the ark after the flood? And it came to pass on the six-hundred-and-first year that Noah removed the covering of the ark. Noah opens the ark. G-d is the one who closed the ark. Why?
Perhaps the answer is, it depends whose world it is. Rabbi Baer wants to argue the fundamental difference between the worlds is, this is G-d's world, this is Noah's world. G-d is going to close the door on His world; Noah is going to open the door onto his world. in order to put it a little differently, G-d's world is then destroyed, the new world is a world that belongs to Noah, it's as if Noah is now the landlord; no longer just the tenant but somehow he's got the keys, he's got the keys to the world, it is his world. He opens the door onto the ark and opens onto a world that is newly his. In this new world time is reckoned differently. Time begins with Noah, Noah is the standard. He's the standard because he's the center. It's what you might call an anthropocentric world, a world that revolves around man, where Noah becomes what it's all about, becomes the center.
You can see it by the way in the purpose of the world. In the first world, in Eden, mankind's role - if you look at the text - was to work the earth and to guard it. It was G-d's garden, our job was to guard that garden and to make sure that we kept G-d's garden pristine, as it were. When we failed, mankind became exiled from that world. But we were still not in G-d's garden but in G-d's world. That world could also become corrupt. When it became corrupt because of us then that world - G-d closed down that world as well, exiled us, as it were, from that world forever and gave us a new world, our world, mankind's world, a world that would never be destroyed because it's our world. If we want to corrupt it, it's up to us.
In the first world we were co-tenants; the world of creation we were co-tenants in this world with animals, that was our relationship to the environment. We were here, us, animals were here, and both us and the animals could eat vegetation. It was a world in which G-d was the landlord. That changed in the world of re-creation. The world of re-creation, in Noah's world, we became dominant, we were able to eat the animals like we used to eat vegetation, we became the landlord. The old world was perhaps more fragile, more pristine, it was a world in which the connection between mankind and the world was such that we could elevate the world or we could perhaps corrupt it, and when we corrupted it, it would get shut down. In the new world if you corrupt the world you corrupt the world, we are the ones that have to live with it, it's our world, we are the ones with the keys.
Bottom line, we've seen how the creation story mirrors itself and we've talked about what it might mean this mirror in the post-flood world. Genesis Chapter 8 mirroring Genesis Chapter 1, the re-creation of a world, but a different world, a world that would be mankind's world, a world in which we would be front and center, in which we would have the keys. The sixth day, the blessing of the sixth day, be fruitful and multiply, also, as we've seen, mirrors itself in Noah's world, there's a sixth day over here as well, or what we might call a sixth day. A day in which we're also given our mandate vis-à-vis the environment; be fruitful and multiply, but it's a world in which the animals will fear us and a world in which we need to live in no matter what we do to it.
I think the next intriguing question is how far can you keep on reading the story of creation, Genesis Chapter 1 and perhaps Genesis Chapter 2 - how far can you continue reading that in relation to the post-flood world? We've seen how each one of these days of creation, all the way through the sixth day, has its counterpart in Noah's world, does that continue past the sixth day? Does that continue into the seventh day? Is there a "seventh day" over here in mankind's world? The seventh day here is the Sabbath, the next $64,000 question is, is there a Sabbath, so to speak, in Noah's world? What would that look like? What could that mean?
Stay with me and we'll talk about that next.
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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