Noah (Genesis 6:9-11:32), Shabbat Rosh Hodesh (Num. 28:9-15)

A funny thing happened to me when I chanted the haftarah for Bereishit last week from the Etz Hayim book.  It was long.  First page.  Second page.  By the third, I wondered what had possessed me to volunteer to do this when I would still be zonked from the holidays.  Fourth page.  Wait a moment, what’s Noah doing in the Bereishit haftarah?  Oops.  I had continued chanting past the end of the haftarah into the beginning of the following week’s Torah reading, Noah (guttural “h” in Hebrew).  The congregants were amused. 

This week, it really is time to read about Noah.  It also happens to be the beginning of the month of Cheshvan (aka Marcheshvan, the 8th month by the Biblical calendar), so we read from a second scroll (Num. 28:9-15, sacrifices) and read a special haftarah, Isaiah 66:1-24 (repeat v. 23).  We are usually told that “Marcheshvan” is really “Mar” (“bitter”) + Cheshvan, since Cheshvan includes neither holidays nor fasts.  That is probably just a play on words. “Mar” can also indicate “rainy.”  Rabbi Ari Enkin wrote ( ):

The name “Marcheshvan” is probably derived from its position in the calendar. In Akkadian (Babylonian/Assyrian), the “w” (vav) and “m” (mem) sounds can interchange. As a result, Marcheshvan which is from the two words “m’rach” and “shvan,” would have been “warh” and “shman” in Akkadian, corresponding to the Hebrew “yerech shmini,” – the eighth month. Indeed, in the Yemenite tradition, the name of the month is pronounced “Marachsha’wan” which is much closer to the original than the Ashkenazi pronounced “Mar-Cheshvan”.

As you recall, the Lord has become fed up with corruption in the world and so decides to kill all the humans and animals by flood, except for one family, a pair of each type of animal for breeding, and some additional animals for post-flood sacrifices.  Noah isthe at-least-relatively-good guy who is chosen to build an ark for saving his family and the animals.  After about a year in the ark (40 days rain + a lot more for drying out), they leave it and Noah is given instructions (9:1-3) that parallel those given to Adam (1:28-30), but humanity will now have different relationships with the earth and animals.  Adam’s descendants had already done a lot of subduing the earth, so that was left out of Noah’s charge.  Adam was commanded to live in harmony with the animals, and he and they were to be vegetarians.  Noah is told the animals will now fear humans, who can now eat all of them.

Noah’s next big discovery is wine.  Although it results in a nasty experience for Noah, wine is regarded as a generally positive contribution to human life.  We sanctify all sorts of occasions with wine – holidays, weddings, circumcisions.  We use wine to welcome the Sabbath and to see it out.  Rashi (1040-1105), the seminal commentator on Torah and Talmud, reportedly made his living as a vintner.  It’s interesting to see who else in history were vintners.  For example, Chaucer’s father and grandfather were involved in the wine trade (; 14th century England got significant tax revenue from imports of wine from, e.g., Spain, Cyprus, Capri, Portugal, and France.  And Thomas Jefferson has been called “America’s ‘first distinguished viticulturist,’ and ‘the greatest patron of wine and wine growing that this country has yet had.’” ( ).

Although humanity now has a fresh start, it’s difficult to tell from the text that behavior is improving.  Or maybe it was just so really bad before that “normal” is almost angelic by comparison.  At least now humans are getting along with each well enough to cooperate on ambitious (arrogant?) building projects like a tower (better, ziggurat) to heaven.  That is soon quashed by divine interference, as everyone starts speaking a separate language and nothing more gets done.  A bit like Congress.  Finally, we read a genealogy of Noah’s descendants.  Among those of his son Shem is Abram, whose wife is Sarai.  Their story begins next week.

Shabbat shalom,

Noah’s ark

And the Lord said unto Noah, “Where is the ark which I have commanded thee to build?”
And Noah said unto the Lord, “Verily, I have had three carpenters off ill. The gopher wood supplier hath let me down – yea, even though the gopher wood hath been on order nigh upon 12 months. What can I do, O Lord?”
And the Lord said unto Noah, “I want that ark finished even after 7 days and 7 nights.”
And Noah said, “It will be so.”

And it was not so. And the Lord said unto Noah, “What seemeth to be the trouble this time?”
And Noah said unto the Lord, “Mine sub-contractor hath gone bankrupt. The pitch, which Thou commandest me to put on the outside and on the inside of the ark, hath not arrived. The plumber hath gone on strike. Shem, my son who helpeth me on the ark side of the business, hath formed a rock group with his brothers Ham and Japheth. Lord, I am undone.”

And the Lord grew angry and said, “And what about the animals, the male and the female of every sort that I have ordered to come unto thee to keep their seed alive upon the face of the earth?”
And Noah said, “They have been delivered unto the wrong address but should arrive on Friday.”

And the Lord said, “How about the unicorns, and the fowls of the air by sevens?”
And Noah wrung his hands and wept, saying, “Lord, unicorns are a discontinued line; thou canst not get them for love nor money. And fowls of the air are sold only in half-dozens. Lord, Lord, Thou knowest how it is.”
And the Lord in his wisdom said, “Noah, my son, I know. Why else dost thou think I have caused a flood to descend upon the earth?

The Great Flood

tph dinosaur-noah-311208


April 24, 2007 at 11:20 pm
Deadly Virus 

There is a dangerous virus being passed around electronically, orally, and by hand. This virus is called Worm-Overload-Recreational-Killer (WORK).

If you receive WORK from any of your colleagues, your boss, or anyone else via any means DO NOT TOUCH IT. This virus will wipe out your private life completely.

If you should come into contact with WORK put your jacket on and take two good friends to the nearest grocery store. Purchase the antidote known as Work-Isolating-Neutralizer-Extract (WINE) or Bothersome-Employer-Elimination-Rebooter (BEER). Take the antidote repeatedly until WORK has been completely eliminated from your system.

July 30, 2006 at 8:17 pm
For Wine Connoisseurs…..


Wal-Mart customers will soon be able to sample a new discount item–Wal-Mart’s own brand of wine. The world’s largest retail chain is teaming up with Ernest & Julio Gallo Winery of Modesto, California, to produce the spirits at an affordable price, in the $2 – $5 range.

While wine connoisseurs may not be inclined to throw a bottle of Wal-Mart brand wine into their shopping carts, “There is a large market for cheap wine,” said Kathy Micken, professor of marketing at R. Williams University in Bristol, R.I. “The right name is definitely important.”

So, here we go…The TOP 12 suggested names for Wal-Mart Wine…

12) Chateau Traileur Parc

11) White Trashfindel

10) Big Red Gulp

9) Grape Expectations

8) Domaine Wal-Mart “Merde du Pays”

7) NASCARbernet

6) Chef Boyardeaux

5) Peanut Noir

4) Chateau des Moines

3) I Can’t Believe It’s Not Vinegar!

2) World Championship Riesling

And the # 1 suggested name for Wal-Mart Wine…

1) Nasti Spumante

11 Untranslatable Words From Other Cultures

By Ella Frances Sanders, Intern at Maptia
Date added 21 August, 2013   Location Taghazout, Morocco

(See the website for introduction and artistic renderings) 

1 | German: Waldeinsamkeit
A feeling of solitude, being alone in the woods and a connectedness to nature. Ralph Waldo Emerson even wrote a whole poem about it.

2 | Italian: Culaccino
The mark left on a table by a cold glass. Who knew condensation could sound so poetic.

3 | Inuit: Iktsuarpok
The feeling of anticipation that leads you to go outside and check if anyone is coming, and probably also indicates an element of impatience.

4 | Japanese: Komorebi
This is the word the Japanese have for when sunlight filters through the trees – the interplay between the light and the leaves.

5 | Russian: Pochemuchka
Someone who asks a lot of questions. In fact, probably too many questions. We all know a few of these.

6 | Spanish: Sobremesa
Spaniards tend to be a sociable bunch, and this word describes the period of time after a meal when you have food-induced conversations with the people you have shared the meal with.

7 | Indonesian: Jayus
Their slang for someone who tells a joke so badly, that is so unfunny you cannot help but laugh out loud.

8 | Hawaiian: Pana Poʻo
You know when you forget where you’ve put the keys, and you scratch your head because it somehow seems to help you remember? This is the word for it.

9 | French: Dépaysement
The feeling that comes from not being in one’s home country – of being a foreigner, or an immigrant, of being somewhat displaced from your origin.

10 | Urdu: Goya
Urdu is the national language of Pakistan, but is also an official language in 5 of the Indian states. This particular Urdu word conveys a contemplative ‘as-if’ that nonetheless feels like reality, and describes the suspension of disbelief that can occur, often through good storytelling.

11 | Swedish: Mångata
The word for the glimmering, roadlike reflection that the moon creates on water.


(A Few of) 22 Maps That Show How Americans Speak English Totally Differently From Each Other

WALTER HICKEY JUN. 5, 2013, 12:24 PM 33,001,790 1319

Everyone knows that Americans don’t exactly agree on pronunciations.
Regional accents are a major part of what makes American English so interesting as a dialect.
Joshua Katz, a Ph. D student in statistics at North Carolina State University, just published a group of awesome visualizations of Professor Bert Vaux and Scott Golder’s linguistic survey that looked at how Americans pronounce words. (via detsl on /r/Linguistics)
His results were first published on Abstractthe N.C. State research blog.
Joshua gave us (Business Insider) permission to publish some of the coolest maps from his collection:
Everyone knows that the Midwest calls it “pop,” the Northeast and West Coast call it “soda,” while the South is really into brand loyalty.tph united-states-dialect-map-language noah 5

Most of America realizes that New York really is “The City.”

tph united-states-dialect-map-language noah 3

Philadelphia is just making it up as it goes along.

tph united-states-dialect-map-language noah 4



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2 Responses to Noah (Genesis 6:9-11:32), Shabbat Rosh Hodesh (Num. 28:9-15)

  1. Pingback: Noah (Genesis 6:9-11:32), Shabbat Rosh Hodesh (Num. 28:9-15) | Torah Portion Humor Weekly

  2. Pingback: Bereishit (Genesis 1:1-6:8) | Torah Portion Humor Weekly

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