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עשה תורתך קבע – אמור מעט ועשה הרבה

Ruach Elohim – We need it now

Posted by rabbiart on November 3, 2016

In the first verse of chapter 8 we read that HaShem remembered Noach.   Because HaShem remembered, HaShem caused a ruach elohim to blow across the earth and clear out all the waters.  Somewhere somebody sometime must have written a drash that goes like this, but I haven’t managed to find it…

What is the flood?  Might there be a flood of biblical proportions in our day? In our story, the pshat is that the waters come to cleanse the earth (lots of killing in the process) of all that was wrong in creation, and create the conditions for a  fresh start. The flood ends, because the ruach elohim ends the flood. 

Suppose we turn a part of the verse on its head.  In this version the waters do not cleanse, rather they symbolize how the planet has become filled with all sorts of – let’s just say – really bad stuff. (I cleaned up that last word for you, gentle reader.)  The waters, in our version, stand for all the bad stuff. Stuff that might be literally drowning our planet -and us -right out of existence.  Let’s go from the pshat to the drash…

In Noah’s time – and it feels like in our time as well – the planet is drowning in violence, corruption and any of the next five big bad nouns you might care to add in. Sometimes it feels like no matter how hard we swim, either as individuals or societies, we can barely keep our heads above water.  And whatever ark we have managed to build for ourselves and our families is very fragile indeed, barely keeping afloat. In our text this Shabbat the drowning is stopped through the intervention of ruach elohim – the divine spirit. In our flood story, the ruach elohim acts as a physical force, beginning to clear the waters away.

For many people on the planet,  the flood is not just a Bible story; it’s their lives.  Sometimes, its death by actual water, often it’s by the flood of violence, or the drought of human caring. Just as in our Torah story, we need ruach elohim to clear away our flood.  Just as HaShem remembered Noach, we pray for HaShem to remember us, and cleanse us.  Preferably with a very limited amount of water, and also…bimhera b’yamenu

Post script:  It’s a privilege to sit in Yerushalayim, study some Torah, and write a simple drash.  Hopefully, it’s coherent. If not, you try it after 14 hours on a plane and 30+ hours with almost no  sleep and let me know what you think this  week’s Torah  portion is teaching us.

Shabbat Shalom

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