And after the flood, God
   said to Noah: Behold, I
  establish My covenant with
   you, and with your seed
     after you; and with
    every living creature
  that is with you: the fowl,
  the cattle and every beast
   of the earth with you....
      (Genesis 9:9*1 0)

 
Help rebuild the world
Excrement power

 
Sometimes "I told you so" just doesn't feel good. Not that Noah had many people to say it to after the event. Before the flood he tried repeatedly to warn his neighbours but they laughed in his face. Even as the rain was falling, Noah still called on the mockers to repent but still they laughed. Had they done so, according to Rashi, God would have turned off the tap and a cataclysmic flood would have been  reduced to a refreshing shower, But they were so insulated from reality they couldn't see disaster looming ahead. Some mistakes in life are big ones and they don't get much bigger than that.
 

Our commentators tell us that the society in which Noah lived was not a healthy one. It was riddled with corruption, a world where everyone was out for themselves.
Worse still, it was a violent society. Robbery was commonplace. Greed and callousness had led to the most fundamental breakdown in
relations between people.

 And after the flood, God
   said to Noah: Behold, I
  establish My covenant with
   you, and with your seed
     after you; and with
    every living creature
  that is with you: the fowl,
  the cattle and every beast
   of the earth with you....
      (Genesis 9:9*1 0)


Latest news

Coffee morning raises £300


 
Breaking through to Mufkara
An alternative view


 
Youd think that once these cynics had been swept away in the flood, humanity would stick to the straight and narrow. But we are not good at learning from our mistakes. Just flick a few pages on in your Chumash and there is humanity messing up again. This time they're trying to build a tower to reach heaven. In their arrogance, they believed that man-made technology could challenge the fundamental order of the world. But surely we have progressed since ancient times? After all, we have science, knowledge and foresight. We modem sophis- ticates couldn't fall into those traps. We wouldn't arrogantly risk our world for the sake of material goods or convenience. Would we?

Throughout Jewish history, there have been warning bells that we, as other peoples, have ignored at our peril. Some- times it has been difficult to spot them. At other times, however, they are as clear as the acid rain falling on your head. It is now widely acknowledged that we are creating a variety of crises in the natural world.

We can see it in our own lives. Food scares such as BSE which lead to fatal human diseases; hormone-disrupting chemicals in our homes which appear to be bringing down the age of puberty in girls and reducing fertility in men; global warming which seems to be creating extreme weather condi- tions around the world and may eventually turn London as cold as Vladivostock,

The consequences of our actions are many but what drives us to act has not changed much since that earliest time. Despite the most obvious and dire warnings, it seems we will do any- thing to make our lives yet more luxurious, regardless of whether that leads to immense inequalities between people or to the widespread destruction of the natural world on which we depend for our existence. Like those who embarked on the building of the Tower of Babel, we are arrogantly creating technologies which alter the very building blocks of nature.
 


 
We produce genetically modified organisms despite having no idea what the consequences of their production will be; we turn a blind eye to factory farming where overuse of antibiotics is undermining their ability to treat disease in humans. We all know the warnings are there. We all know the types of things we should be doing to minimise further damage, but we find it hard to really take that knowledge on board. Yet we are all descendants of Noah and each of us has that spark of moral strength he carried. Even if we cannot find it in ourselves to act for our own generation, couldn't we manage a little effort for the sake of our children and grandchildren? To- day, as throughout the year, Noah is talking to us. Let's listen.

           Building the new Ark
Once we have found our own piece of `inner Noah' we must then get on with building the ark. This ark will differ in that it will include all and will be built by all. And as in the building of the Beit Ha'rnikdash, the temple, each one of us will bring something to it no matter how big or small.

It could be a small action like ensuring we turn off the light when leaving a room, or washing clothes on a cooler cycle to save energy. It could be something bigger like not driving for short journeys but walking instead. (This would probably also cut down on the need to go to the gym!) It can be hard to break the wasteful habits of a lifetime so pick one thing in your daily routine and work on that for a few months. Then add another. Maybe it could be separating the rubbish for re- cycling or finding alternatives to the many harmful chemicals we use in our homes and gardens.

An essential element in building the new ark, however, is to open our eyes and appreciate the natural world around us. It is beautiful, it is complete, it is holy, and it is our home. Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai said, `Three things are of equal importance - earth, humans and rain'. Rabbi Levi ben Hiyyata said, `...to teach that without earth, there is no rain, and without rain, the earth cannot endure, and without either, humans cannot exist'. Genesis Rabbah 13:3
 


 
 
About "The Noah Project"
The Noah Project was founded by a group of Jewish environmentalists and was formally launched in January 1998. We work across the Jewish community integrating an awareness of Jewish tradition with our con- cern for the environment, promoting our beliefs through education, celebration and action. We act as resource, providing educational materials for both adults and for young people in religion schools as well as running seminars and debates on topical issues such as GM foods. We publish a quarterly newsletter and keep our supporters up to date with national and international campaigns through regular e-rnails, We organise Tu B'Shevat sederim and nature walks to celebrate Pesach and Shavuot and last, but not least, undertake occasional hands-on practical action projects such as our recent river clean-up. Please check out our website for more details or contact us at the address below.

The Noah Project is an independent, not-for-profit project, run by volunteers and
funded solely by donations.
 


 
The Noah Project
Jewish Education, Celebration and Action for the Earth
PO Box 1828
London W10 5RT

E-Mail info@noahproject.org.uk
Tel. 020 8747 9518

www.noahproject.org.uk

Home