Noach – The Rainbow Connection
This week’s Parsha describes two generations of people who sinned and were punished for it, the Dor HaMabul – Generation of the Flood, and the Dor HaFlaga, Generation of the Dispersion. The Dor HaMabul, of course, was the generation lost in the great flood during which God told Noach to build an ark to survive. What was their sin? The Torah describes how the people lost their fear of God and were behaving with depravity and immorality — killing, stealing, a total societal breakdown. The Dor HaFlaga was the generation of those who built the Tower of Bavel – a great tower through which they aimed to surpass God. For this, their punishment was God changing their languages to all be different from one another, and they were consequently dispersed from one another, to scatter all over the world.
Reading this, we might ask the same question that numerous commentators raise: Why did the Dor HaMabul receive the harsher punishment of being destroyed and wiped off the face of the earth while the Dor HaFlaga, who rebelled directly against God, was only spread throughout the world? Wouldn’t it make sense for them to deserve worse?
The commentaries explain that as wicked as they were, the Dor HaFlaga lived peacefully and in harmony with one another. However, the Dor HaMabul was filled with crime and robbery, with a total collapse of the social order. The unity the Dor HaFlaga displayed with one another resulted in a more lenient punishment, showing us the greatness of the value of building peace between people.
The flood concluded with a sign from God that God will not destroy the world again – a rainbow. The rainbow has many different colors, joining together to create a greater beautiful whole. This teaches us that the key to achieving peace in the world and preventing further destruction is working to bring together the different “colors” of humanity, that were so long ago dispersed, into a unified whole. Each summer, we are privileged to create this kind of unified world at Yavneh.
Questions for the Shabbat table:
- Think of a time in your life when you worked on a group project to create something. What were the rewards and challenges of the experience of working together with other people toward a goal?
- Can you think of a time at Yavneh you worked together with someone very different from yourself? What did you learn from the experience?
- What do you think is the best way to work together with someone from whom you are very different (language barrier, different interests or background, etc.)?