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October 23, 1987 - Image 35

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1987-10-23

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established 1919 ‘ Li

The Symbol Of Hope
For A Better World


Special to The Jewish News


once saw an unusual
painting in the famed
Tate Museum of London
called "Hope," by G.F. Watts.
Hope is depicted as a woman
with a bandage over her eyes,
sitting bowed in what looks
like an empty universe, try-
ing to make music on one
string of a broken lyre. It is an
exquisite painting that could
well be used as a trademark
of the "Hope Ship," which
goes tounderdeveloped coun-
tries, full of doctors, dentists,
nurses and medicine.
But there is a more ancient
symbol of Hope recorded in
Genesis. At the end of the
catastrophe of the Flood, a
rainbow of hope is seen shin-
ing across the sky. Noah and
his family, with all their
animals, two by two, had
escaped the great Flood
because he had built an ark,

Shabbat Noah:
Genesis 6:9-11:32,
Isaiah 66:1-24

lived in it for 40 days and 40
nights, until the dove brought
back the olive branch in-
dicating that the waters had
receded and the flood was
The ark was a gigantic zoo,
with little partitions for some
2,00& animals, many of whom
went into hibernation during
the long floating period of the
flood. The ark had three
- levels. The top level had the
living quarters for Noah and
his family. The second level
housed the animals. The
third deck down was the hold
for food and storage.
The ark had tremendous
cubic space and was highly
floatable, able to withstand
the flood waters churning
about. The dimensions of the
ark were specified: 300 cubits
long, a beam of 50 cubits and
a height of 30 cubits, without
a rudder, without oars and
designed not to go any place,
only to keep afloat. That
meant the ark's tonnage was
over 40,000 tons — quite a
good-sized modern passenger
ship. "
The tradition of a great
flood that engulfed much of
the ancient world is preserv-
ed in the memories of many
ancient peoples. We know
from archaeology that around

Dr. Hertz is Rabbi Emeritus of
Temple Beth El.

3,800 BCE a great flood
engulfed the ancient world.
Other literatures, like the
Babylonian, record a flood
story, but the meaning of the
Bible's flood story is not
meant to document any scien-
tific phenomenon. Rather, the
Bible's interest focuses on the
ethical and religious value of
the great Deluge as a Divine
judgment upon an age in
which might was right and
human depravity degraded
the dignity of man.
The deification of power and
pleasure, the selfishness that
drove men to sin, were marks
of that age. Among these men
of violence, the Bible says, one
man alone walked with God:
Noah. He had tried to warn
his people that injustice could
not be tolerated. No one
listened. When the Deluge
came, the Bible tells its story
to stress the eternal truth
that the basis of human socie-
ty must be justice. Any socie-
ty devoid of justice deserves to
perish. Noah alone was saved
because he was worthy of
God's approval. Noah saw an
entire generation of iniquity
swept away. He lived to see
the rainbow of promise, the
first rainbow that was to
mark the beginning of a new
and better world.
Buy why Noah? The rabbis
questioned his ethics, his
morality, his faith. Genesis
says, "Noah was a righteous
man in his generation." In his
generation, most men were
wicked. By comparison to
them, he may have seemed
righteous, but not by com-
parison to really decent,
honorable men.
The Bible says, "Noah
walked with God." That seem-
ed like a compliment. But
don't righteous men walk
with their fellow men? Today
we hear on TV about men
who claim to walk with God
but whose self-righteousness
and holier-than-thou attitude
give them away. A good com-
munity is made up of all
kinds of people, not just those
who think of themselves as
righteous and everyone else a
Why didn't Noah question
God's decree to destroy
everyone in a flood? A truly
righteous man might have
questioned such a decree.
Abraham questioned. When
told that Sodom and Gomor-
rah would be destroyed,
Abraham challenged God. He
pleaded for the cities, even for
the sake of a handful of good
people who might be found in
those cities.
When the flood was- over,



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takes pleasure in inviting you to its

Special Gifts Luncheon


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Tuesday, November 3rd
11:30 a.m.
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Contribution: $100 minimum per
person to B'nai B'rith Women
Youth and Services Appeal

Lucille Gersten, President
Rhea Rowe, Special Gifts Chairman .
Evelyn Levine, Luncheon Chairman
Soralee Broida, Services Appeal Chairman

Congregation B'nai Moshe

cordially invites you to attend

Shabbas "Lunch with
Rabbi Allan Meyerowitz"

a series of
provocative, probing, challenging lectures and discussions

October 24 — Surrogate Mother:
Is One Jewish Mother Enough?
November 14 — On The Brink of Nuclear
Holocaust --The Jewish Response.
December 12 — AIDS in The Jewish
Community: Denial or Self-Help?
January 23 — Abortion and Federations:
Do We Fund Our Own Destruction?
February 13 — Black-Jewish Relations:
Can We Get Past Jesse Jackson?
March 5 — Suicide and Euthanasia — When Is Life No Longer Life?
June 11 — Violence and Sex In America: Whichs Is More Devastating?
Call Congregation B'nai Moshe office 548.9000 for reservations.

Soon to begin at Congregation B'nai Moshe:

Torah for Tots
Shabbas Family Service
The Torah Club


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